Biotech entrepreneur, Harvard prof Verdine adds WuXi startup player to CV

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Serial biotech entrepreneur and Harvard professor Greg Verdine can add another title to his lengthy resume: venture partner and biotech startup point man for WuXi Healthcare Ventures.

The onetime CEO, CSO (until a month ago) and co-founder of Warp Drive Bio combines a deep knowledge of the science of drug discovery with some of the best connections in biotech, globally. WuXi's parent organization--a sprawling, fast-growing CRO and manufacturing empire--is helmed by Ge Li, who’s driven the company’s fast growth.

Verdine tells me that his close relationship with Ge Li prompted the move. 

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“The Founding Partner, Ge Li, is a very close friend of mine and is a visionary company-builder,” notes Verdine in a message to FierceBiotech. “I just simply love to work with him.”   

Reason number two: “There are extraordinary opportunities for biotech companies to team up with entities in the Asia-Pacific region, and both WuXi AppTec and WuXi Healthcare Ventures (which are entirely separate but closely allied corporate entities) are exceedingly well-positioned in this area--I strengthen the US / Boston / academic community connectivity.  

“My main interest in terms of future investment and company-building lies in next-generation therapeutics,” Verdine cites as reason number 3. “WuXi Healthcare Ventures offers me a young vibrant, internationally-oriented platform from which to launch multiple new companies focused in this space.”

Verdine has ample experience in that area. He co-founded a U.S./Japanese biotech--WaVe Life Sciences, which raised $84 million from RA et al--at the beginning of last year. There’s another startup in the works in Boston called Fog Pharma. And his list of earlier startups includes Enanta, Tokai, Eleven and Aileron.

That kind of background makes Verdine an ideal partner for a player like WuXi's venture arm, which put together a $290 million venture fund late last year. WuXi's first foray into VC, a $63 million fund debuted in 2011, bought the CRO stakes in 18 companies including U.S. biotechs Juno Therapeutics ($JUNO) and Agios Pharmaceuticals ($AGIO), plus Chinese upstarts Hua Medicine and Adagene.

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