Star biotech analyst Schoenebaum, loved for his humor as much as his work, dies

Schoenebaum was known for his speed, firing off assessments of the biopharma industry before other analysts. (Dimitri Houtteman/Pixabay)

Mark Schoenebaum, the longtime biopharma analyst admired as much for his personality as for his work, died over the weekend, wrote Umer Raffat, an Evercore ISI colleague that Schoenebaum mentored, in an email Sunday evening. He was 46. 

The cause of death wasn’t specified, but he had taken medical leave from Evercore in 2016, ultimately leaving the firm in 2017, according to Bloomberg. 

“We’ve all looked up to him as the very best equity research analyst there has ever been on Wall Street.  But that was only part of who he was: he was an absolute standout individual who touched so many lives, and whose strength of character showed in his sheer humility despite his absolutely unprecedented success,” Raffat said in the email. 

Schoenebaum was known for his speed, firing off assessments of the biopharma industry before other analysts.

“He was always the first analyst to put out any kind of note. So fast. A journalist’s dream on deadline,” said Tracy Staton, Editor-in-Chief of FierceBiotech and FiercePharma. But Schoenebaum wasn’t all work and no play. 

“He was a model of hard work and talent, leavened with warmth, grace, humility & a delightfully sly sense of humor-@roncohenshair owes him a special debt. Condolences to his family and all of us who admired & loved him,” wrote Acorda CEO Ron Cohen in a tweet Monday morning. 

Cohen's Twitter handle is a product of the “Best Hair in Biopharma” competition, created by Schoenebaum and run by BioSpace in 2014 and 2015. As the race continued, Schoenebaum wrote—in an investor note, no less—that "Bristol-Myers Squibb SVP of Public Affairs] John Elicker's hair was simply incredible," adding, "Sorry Ron Cohen, but you've got some serious competition. Who do you think wins?" 

A doctor by training, Schoenebaum spent nearly 20 years as a biopharma analyst. Before joining Evercore in 2010, he worked for a decade as a biotech analyst at Deutsche Bank, Bear Stearns & Co., Piper Jaffray and CIBC, BioCentury reported

Schoenebaum came back to work in January 2017, announcing his return with an email titled, “I’m back...with a beard.” 

“I can't thank you enough for your support during my time away,” he wrote. “I received text messages and emails from more than 1,500 individual clients and company execs—and it meant the world to me... I'll be spending a few weeks getting up to speed, but happy to catch up socially during that time.” 

“And, finally, the rumors are true—I now have a beard.” 

A client welcomed Schoenebaum back with a poem referencing that beard, among other things. True to form, he sent along for others to enjoy: 

“My computer starts to quiver, 
It needs more RAM and ROM 
Its storage cannot measure up, 
To the flood from Schoenebaum,” the poem reads. 

Though optimistic about his return, Schoenebaum took another leave of absence in March and eventually resigned from Evercore.