BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Vida Ventures (“Vida”), a next-generation life sciences venture firm, announced today the closing of Vida Ventures II, LLC (“Vida II”), raising $600 million in an oversubscribed fund. Vida II will be used to further the firm’s life sciences platform, which began building a successful track record of investing with its inaugural fund by focusing on companies that change the paradigm of care for patients. With the close of Vida II, Vida has approximately $1 billion under management in less than two years since inception. Vida II fund investors include members of the Vida team, investors from the inaugural fund, top-tier endowments, foundations, family offices, funds-of-funds, and notable individuals across the U.S. and overseas. In anticipation of Vida II, the firm also announced the expansion of its team of experts with Helen S. Kim, Rajul Jain, M.D., Heba Nowyhed, Ph.D., and Eric Trac, M.D.
Vida leverages its scientific and clinical skills, extensive industry network, operating and investing experience to build life science companies and provide funding for companies across research and development stages. Formed in late 2017 by Arie Belldegrun, M.D., FACS, Fred Cohen, M.D., D. Phil, Leonard Potter (representing Wildcat Capital Management), Arjun Goyal, M.D., and Stefan Vitorovic, Vida has seen its unique investment strategy drive significant impact in the space. Under the first fund, which closed in November 2017 with $255 million, the firm has built a robust life sciences portfolio of 14 companies, of which three have completed initial public offerings (IPO) and one investment exited via acquisition, Peloton Therapeutics, which was acquired by Merck for up to $2.2 billion in 2019.
“The successful fundraise for Vida II and the speed with which we were able to close the fund reflects Vida’s high-quality team and the success of our inaugural fund,” said Arie Belldegrun, M.D., FACS, Co-Founder and Senior Managing Director. “Life sciences has become one of the most dynamic industries and a focal point for venture firms. Vida maintains a unique advantage by combining a best-in-class investment team with first-hand business and scientific expertise that directly applies to our portfolio investments. With the added expertise from our newest team members, we are positioned better than ever before to add value by identifying and investing in meaningful science that ultimately has the potential to help patients in need.”
Fred Cohen, M.D., D.Phil, Co-Founder and Senior Managing Director continued, “Our platform allows us to be flexible in our investment style. As a result of our deep and varied network, we are able to see a vast pipeline of investment prospects and the opportunity to back market leaders in achieving their next phase of development. This incredible support we have received from our investor community for Vida II will enable us to further our mission to transform biomedical innovations into therapies.”
Vida has played a significant role as a pre-IPO investor or lead investor in two recently high-valued companies, Allogene Therapeutics (Nasdaq: ALLO), a clinical-stage biotechnology company pioneering the development of allogeneic CAR T (AlloCAR T™) therapies for cancer and the second largest biotechnology IPO of 2018, and Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc. (AskBio), a developer and manufacturer of Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV) gene therapy therapeutics for patients with rare and generally untreatable genetic disorders. Vida most recently co-led the $105 million Series A financing for Kronos Bio, a pre-clinical company dedicated to the discovery and development of first-in-class therapies that modulate historically undruggable targets. The firm’s other portfolio companies include A2 Biotherapeutics, Bait Therapeutics, Homology Medicines, Kadiant, Neogene Therapeutics, Oyster Point Pharma, Pionyr Immunotherapeutics, Praxis Precision Medicines, Precision Medicine Group, and Sutro Biopharma.
Vida has assembled an industry leading team with representation from biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, academia, and venture capital, as well as critical support from strategic advisors such as Joshua Kazam, David Tanen and David Chang, M.D., Ph.D. It currently has offices in Boston, MA, Los Angeles, CA and San Francisco, CA. The newest additions to the team include:
- Helen S. Kim – Managing Director. Helen has over 27 years of experience in leadership roles in biotechnology. Most recently, Helen was a Partner at The Column Group. Prior, Helen served as Executive Vice President of Business Development at Kite Pharma, Inc. where she led all business and corporate development initiatives including the acquisition of Kite Pharma to Gilead in 2017. Previously, Helen served as Strategic Advisor of NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. from January 2012 through November 2014. Ms. Kim served as the Chief Business Officer at NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. from August 2009 to January 2012. Prior to NGM, she was the Chief Executive Officer and President of Kosan Biosciences where she restructured and repositioned the company prior to successfully selling the company to Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2008. Helen's additional industry experience includes executive positions at Affymax, Onyx Pharmaceuticals and Chiron Corporation. Helen received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University and a M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. Helen currently serves on the Board of Directors for Assembly Biosciences, Applied Molecular Transport, Exicure, A2 Biotherapeutics and Neogene Therapeutics.
- Rajul Jain, M.D. – Director. Rajul is a physician-scientist by background and was most recently leading the Development organization at Kite, a Gilead company where he oversaw a team of approximately 200 people developing engineered cell therapy products to treat a variety of blood cancers and solid tumors. Rajul joined Kite in 2014 and was instrumental to the company’s growth and success, including the global approvals of Yescarta® (axicabtagene ciloleucel). Previously, Rajul was at Amgen where his last role was Global Development Lead. There he oversaw the development of small molecules and biologics in the oncology and bone health therapeutic areas and was instrumental in advancing the R&D pipeline including regulatory approvals of Xgeva and Prolia. Rajul completed his BA in chemistry and biochemistry at Rice University, and MD and Internal Medicine internship and residency at UT Southwestern Medical school. He completed his post-doctoral training in biophysics at Rockefeller University, and fellowship training at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Rajul was previously a volunteer Attending Physician treating underserved patients at UCLA Harbor Medical Center and is a standing lecturer to graduate students at the UCLA Business of Science Center.
- Heba Nowyhed, Ph.D. – Senior Associate. Heba has over 13 years of experience in Immunobiology, and over three years of combined experience working with the business development group at LJI and with the OCR office at Yale. She received her Ph.D. at Yale University where she focused on identifying key drivers of autoimmunity across various disease settings. She completed her Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Inflammation Department at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in late 2015. In 2016, Heba joined the Research group at Kite Pharma as a Scientist and later went on to become an Associate Director where she successfully established key cross functional collaborations between Research and Product Sciences, leading the Assay and Automation group and the team developing next-generation products for Kite's solid tumor programs.
- Eric Trac, M.D. – Associate. Eric received his SB in Chemical-Biological Engineering from MIT and his M.D. and MBA from Stanford University. Prior to Vida, he was a summer associate at Vivo Capital where he was involved in healthcare venture capital and private equity. Eric also has experience in public investing through Mythos Biotech Fund. At Stanford, Eric was an HHMI Medical Research Fellow and investigated phage therapy for cystic fibrosis in the laboratory of Steve Quake. During graduate school, he cofounded a medical device company focused on preventing ventilator-associated pneumonia. At MIT, Eric conducted research in the laboratory of Robert Langer to develop biomaterials for scarred vocal folds in collaboration with laryngeal surgeons at MGH.
About Vida Ventures
Vida Ventures is a next-generation life sciences investment firm founded by a group of scientists, physicians, entrepreneurs and investors passionate about building and funding breakthroughs in biomedicine. Together they form an independent, bold investment group bound together by a simple word – life. Its mission is to bring science to life and advance transformative biomedical innovations that have the potential to make a meaningful difference for patients. Vida has a bicoastal presence and currently has approximately $1 billion under management. For more information on Vida Ventures, please visit www.vidaventures.com, on LinkedIn or follow on Twitter @Vida_Ventures.