George Golumbeski - Celgene

The flexible dealmaker puts his stamp on partnering

Name: George Golumbeski
Title: Senior vice president, business development, Celgene

A few days ago, as Celgene ($CELG) executives were running through the company's annual numbers, the general focus was on another big jump in revenue followed by some more bullishness on sales projections. But if you drilled down into the numbers, you'd find that the R&D budget at Celgene had jumped about a half-billion dollars, to $2.2 billion.

Most of that increase, the company remarked, could be directly attributed to upfront payments for new collaborations.

With Revlimid sales going and blowing, and new drugs like Pomalyst charging ahead, the company has had the cash needed to finance one of the most ambitious partnering efforts in the industry. As a result, the business development team under George Golumbeski--working with R&D chief Tom Daniel--has heavily influenced the value of cancer drug research, a factor that has influenced a wide set of buyers in the market today, including some teams from the pharma giants.

Celgene has earned a reputation as one of the industry's most preferred--as well as one of the most prolific--partners because of its flexibility on deal design. The company may want to invest in a biotech to get a front-row seat to something new in the industry. It may construct a buyout option or add R&D support early on to give a company a chance to really explore the potential of a new approach. But Golumbeski and his team aren't out there trying to dictate terms and simply muscle their way in cheap.

"We do a better job listening to what a partner has to say," Golumbeski told FierceBiotech at the J.P. Morgan conference in January. 

"Good assets are like good houses," he adds. "They are hard to find." And that's particularly true after the 2008 financial panic winnowed out the ranks of biotech players and the pace of new company creation slowed. For those that are left, Celgene plays an outsized role.

When Celgene decided to go deep into epigenetics, Golumbeski put a significant deal together with Epizyme ($EPZM). With Agios ($AGIO), the team was ready to meet shortly after the company had been formed.

Altogether last year Golumbeski helped put together 21 deals. There's no quota on deals. No magic number. But he's also been happy to hum along at that rapid pace. In the process, Celgene is playing a direct role in fostering new technology development as well as company development. It is the company to watch in the deal space, and Celgene owes a lot to Golumbeski for making that happen.

-- John Carroll (email | Twitter)

For more:
Billionaire Soon-Shiong ties a $75M knot with Celgene, vows R&D revolution
Celgene chips in $20M to extend Agios cancer deal
Celgene taps biotech Forma for drugs in hot field of protein homeostasis

George Golumbeski - Celgene
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