The biotechnology industry and its investment community were left reeling Monday following news that two of the field’s most well-known and respected people had died over the weekend.
Mark Schoenebaum, a biotech industry equity research analyst, and Thomas Neff, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based FibroGen, both passed away.
In an email addressed to friends Sunday evening, Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat delivered the news about Schoenebaum’s passing. The cause of death was not disclosed.
“We’ve all looked up to him as the very best equity research analyst there has ever been on Wall Street,” Raffat wrote. “But that was only part of who he was: he was an absolute standout individual who touched so many lives, and whose strength of character showed in his sheer humility despite his absolutely unprecedented success.”
Schoenebaum – known for his fair, insightful analyses of biotech companies, the sense of humor that often accompanied them and his kind personality – began working at Evercore ISI in 2010. However, he took a medical leave in 2016, followed by a second leave in 2017, according to Bloomberg, before ultimately leaving the company. He was 46.
Many expressed shock at the news and shared personal anecdotes about the man and his work.
“I just learned of the heartbreaking news that Mark Schoenebaum lost his life this past weekend. A wonderful smart warm man whom I was lucky to call friend. Godspeed Mark, you and your family are in my thoughts,” wrote Memorial Sloan Kettering researcher Dr. Peter Bach, in a tweet.
Condolences came from the biotechnology industry as well.
“We’re saddened to learn about the death of Mark Schoenebaum,” read a tweet from Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen. “We had the privilege to work with Mark over the years & always appreciated his kindness. He was recognized by Wall Street as one of the most respected biotechnology analysts. Our condolences to his family.”
Prior to his tenure at Evercore ISI, Schoenebaum served as a biotech industry analyst at CIBC, Piper Jaffray, Bear Stearns and Deutsche Bank, according to his LinkedIn profile. A native of Des Moines, Iowa, and graduate of Indiana University, he received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2000, going to work on Wall Street shortly thereafter. He is survived by his wife, New York Presbyterian Hospital anesthesiologist Dr. Tiffany Tedore, and children Isadora and Lucille, Bloomberg reported.
And on Monday, FibroGen said that Neff had died during the weekend, leaving behind “a legacy of innovation and dedication that has been rarely matched in this industry.” Neff founded the company in 1993, and under his watch it won approval in China for roxadustat as the first oral therapy for the treatment of anemia. The drug is also under review in Japan, with plans to file for approval at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency. James Schoeneck, a member of the company’s board of directors, has been named interim CEO.
“Tom founded FibroGen with the vision to treat fibrosis at a time when there was no hope for this disease category, and his commitment to these patients never wavered, nor did his passion for scientific innovation and discovery,” a statement from the company’s board read. “He led this company for 25 years and established a company culture and management team equally driven to support this passion.”
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