Launching a drug development company with novel technology from academia
Our corporate group has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs at this stage to help them optimally and efficiently select and form the appropriate legal entity
This past fall, Faber launched a major initiative to build capability in the San Francisco market, opening a new office and hiring senior talent. “Given the firm’s focus on the life sciences industry, a lot of our clients are located in California, and we see significant growth opportunities,” explains Greg Ikonene, who recently joined the firm and is leading its Bay Area office.
"Over the past few years, the firm has supported more than 70 California-based drug development and personalized medicine companies, negotiating clinical trial agreements, structuring key research collaboration agreements and advising on a wide range of corporate and transactional matters. Clients have included Adverum Biotechnologies, Atara Biotherapeutics, Heart Metabolics, MyoKardia, NeuroVia, Personalis, Pliant Therapeutics, Portola Pharmaceuticals, Puma Biotechnology, and Zogenix. But this work has been handled primarily by lawyers and contracts specialists on the East Coast, and our clients have encouraged us to build a West Coast team."
Greg comes with 20 years of biopharma and agbio experience, as general counsel for multiple venture-backed companies, former head of corporate development and CEO of Mendel Biotechnology and one of the partners in the life sciences transactional practice for a leading California-based law firm. He will focus on helping clients structure and negotiate complex product and platform collaboration agreements, fundamental IP licenses from academic institutions, and a range of corporate matters. With more than ten years’ in-house experience in both legal and business roles, and trained in chemical engineering, Greg understands the challenges facing biotech executives and corporate boards, as well as how properly structured agreements and key business decisions can impact a company’s strategy and accelerate value creation.
“Given the depth of the practice at Faber, we understand how our clients’ prospective partners approach and negotiate transactions – whether they’re CROs, leading research universities or large biopharma companies – and we can leverage that knowledge to structure agreements more effectively, “ says Greg.“Clients want practical advice from lawyers who understand their intellectual property and technology platforms, who know how biopharma companies operate, and who can leverage a large network of business development, clinical, regulatory and other consultants who can help them achieve their goals.”
Elizabeth Keegan has been working with the firm for over a decade, and is now located in the Bay Area. Liz’s work with clients includes research and development, licensing, and clinical matters. “One of Faber’s real strengths is helping drug development companies thoughtfully and cost effectively conclude contracts that drive daily operations, like master agreements for various services and manufacturing relationships,” she says. “I’m involved with this part of our practice, and I also help lead our large integrated team of lawyers and contracts specialists, who assist our clients in launching clinical trials by negotiating agreements with CROs and with the clinical trial sites that will enroll patients.”
Porcia A. Thurston is the firm’s newest Bay Area employee, joining Faber’s clinical trial team as a contracts specialist. She previously worked in-house for a number of large pharmaceutical firms, including Genentech, Gilead Sciences and Impax Laboratories. She has significant experience negotiating and administering clinical study agreements, as well as drafting consulting and vendor contracts.
“At Faber, I’m finding much more global experience in clinical trial contracting and a focus on carefully customizing template-based contracts to match a client’s unique study protocol and IP protection strategies,” she says. “We work hard to help make sure the clinical trial agreements are negotiated efficiently to speed enrollment, but we’re also careful to match the client’s clinical development strategy.”
The firm intends to expand Faber’s new office and is looking to hire additional corporate and transactional lawyers, as well as contracts specialists with experience working in biopharma and other science-based sectors. “We’re interested in individuals looking for intellectual rigor in an environment that values work/life balance,” says Greg. “We offer a collegial culture committed to providing pro bono service and making significant contributions of time and money to the communities in which we live and work.