Overcoming a Bad Job Market, Finding a Path in Biotech: Sabah Oney on The Long Run

Today’s guest on The Long Run is Sabah Oney.

He’s the chief business officer of South San Francisco-based Alector.

You could be excused if you’ve never heard of Alector or Sabah Oney. Neither makes a lot of noise. But Oney is an up-and-comer, and the company has been on my radar for some time.

Alector is a serious drug discovery shop working on novel targets for neurodegenerative diseases, including the biggie – Alzheimer’s. The targets were identified with genome-wide association studies (GWAS), and the team has considerable antibody engineering expertise to go after them. Alector has a partner, AbbVie, that shelled out $205 million upfront last October for the right to co-develop just two of Alector’s drug candidates at the point of proof-of-concept.

Sabah Oney, chief business officer, Alector

Oney, age 36, worked closely with CEO Arnon Rosenthal to close that mammoth partnership with AbbVie. Last summer, he and Rosenthal were at it again, raising a $133 million Series E venture round. The easy thing to do in this IPO go-go year would have been to strike while the iron is hot, and go public, even in the dicey preclinical stage. But it opted to stay private a while longer, so they could amass a pile of data from early clinical development that will help it stay independent for the long-term.   

In this show, Oney talks about his upbringing in the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, and emigrating to the US for a scientific education in genomics. Graduating at the time of the financial crisis, you’ll also get a sense for his resilience and hustle. He cleverly found a way to get a foot in the door of the biotech industry during the industry’s lean years.

Now, join me and Sabah Oney for The Long Run.

You may also like

Writing in the Language of DNA: Kevin Ness on The Long Run
Blazing a New Trail in Psychiatry & Women’s Health: Jeff Jonas on The Long Run
Life of a Scientific Entrepreneur: Bob Langer of MIT on The Long Run
Seeing Lots of Single Cells, Up Close: Serge Saxonov of 10X Genomics on The Long Run