Single-Asset vs. Platform Deals: Optionality & Value Considerations

Tuesday, July 29 2014
8:00 am – 10:00 am

Location: MassBio, 300 Technology Square, 8th Floor, Cambridge, MA

One question that many biotechs ask when it comes time to partner is:  How does one choose between having a monogamous relationship with one partner on a broad platform vs. doing single-asset deals with multiple partners?

Come join us to hear our panel of local BD experts who will weigh on this topic from both a pharma and venture capital perspective, and discuss various deals that span the spectrum, including:

  • The platform deal between Agios and Celgene,
  • The staged relationship between Alnylam and Genzyme
  • The long engagement between Isis and Biogen
  • The R&D externalization model exemplified by the Arteaus and Eli Lilly as part of the Atlas Venture Development Corp initiative.

This is a must-attend event for all BD professionals!


  • Mark Barrett, VP, Strategy & Business Development, Rare Disease, Genzyme  
  • David Grayzel, Partner, Atlas Ventures
  • Duncan Higgons, COO, Agios Pharmaceuticals
  • John McDonald, JD, MBA, Vice President, Co-Head Business Development and Mergers & Acquisition, Biogen Idec


  • Marc Rubenstein, JD, Partner, Ropes & Gray

This Forum is presented by the Business Development & Finance Forum Working Group.


Speaker Bios:

Mark Barrett
Mark Barrett joined Genzyme in July 2013 as VP, Head Strategy & Business Development, Rare Diseases.  His team is responsible for strategy, partnering, and acquisition activities for Genzyme’s rare diseases business and R&D units.  Mr. Barrett has over 15 years of experience in business development, corporate strategy, and research in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.  Prior to joining Genzyme, Mr. Barrett was a member of Johnson & Johnson’s worldwide Pharmaceutical Business Development group.  Throughout his career, Mr. Barrett has been responsible for leading global business development strategy and transactions across therapeutic and technology areas including commercial and clinical stage product and company acquisitions, option deals, in licensing, R&D collaborations, out-licensing, divestments, and spin-outs.  Mr. Barrett previously worked in drug discovery and biology research at Harvard Medical School and in the biotech industry.    He earned his MBA at University of California, Berkeley and holds a BS in Biology from Duke University.

David Grayzel
Dave is a partner in the life sciences group at Atlas Ventures. He joined Atlas in 2010 as managing director of Atlas Venture Development Corp (AVDC).  AVDC is an innovative, asset centric structure that partners with pharma and biotech companies to develop late preclinical and clinical stage programs through to key value inflection points.  AVDC has created Arteaus Therapeutics, Annovation Biopharma, and Ataxion.  Arteaus, which developed a CGRP antibody for migraine prevention, was acquired by Eli Lilly and Company.  Annovation is developing novel anesthesia therapies in partnership with The Medicines Company, and Ataxion is developing novel therapies for underserved neurological diseases in partnership with Biogen. Prior to joining Atlas, Dave led Infinity Pharmaceutical’s clinical research efforts as the head of clinical development and medical affairs. Having joined Infinity as a startup, Dave established the clinical capabilities to run trials from Phase I through global Phase III registration studies.  His responsibilities included clinical strategy and development, operations, pharmacovigilance, and medical affairs.  He also co-chaired the scientific leadership team.  In addition, as a member of the executive leadership team, he was instrumental in the overall corporate and business strategy, which included establishing corporate alliances with Medimmune/AZ and Purdue Pharma, as well as executing Infinity’s IPO in 2006.  Prior to Infinity, Dave was director of corporate development and business operations at Dyax, a biopharma company focused on antibody and protein therapeutics.

Duncan Higgons
Duncan joined Agios in May 2009 as the Chief Operating Officer. Prior to joining Agios, Mr. Higgons worked at Archemix Corporation from 2006 to 2009 where he most recently served as president, chief operating officer and interim chief executive officer. Prior to Archemix, Mr. Higgons served as the chief commercial officer at TransForm Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a privately-held biotechnology company which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson Company. Mr. Higgons holds a B.Sc. in mathematics from King's College University of London and an M.Sc. in economics from London Business School.

John McDonald, JD, MBA

John McDonald joined Biogen Idec in June 2011 and currently is the Co-Head of Business Development and Mergers & Acquisitions.  From May 2006 through June 2011 John was a managing director at MPM Capital, one of the world’s largest science-dedicated venture capital firms, focusing on company formation and supporting portfolio company business development efforts.  Working with Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from April 2000 through May 2006, John was Vice President of Business Development.  Prior to April 2000, John worked at both Genentech, Inc. and Genzyme Corporation where he led or participated in various business development transactions.  

Marc Rubenstein
Marc is a Partner at Ropes & Gray and Co-chair of the Life Sciences Practice Group, focused on representing clients in the biotechnology, medical device and pharmaceutical industries in a wide variety of transactions, including license and collaboration agreements, public and private securities offerings and mergers and acquisitions. He has extensive experience representing life sciences clients in structuring and negotiating collaborative research, development and licensing arrangements. In these transactions, Marc has represented both licensors and licensees, and has negotiated early and late stage product agreements and platform and drug discovery deals. In addition, he has broad experience negotiating supply and manufacturing agreements, distribution and co-promotion agreements, university license agreements, sponsored research agreements and other commercial agreements that arise regularly in the life sciences industry. Marc regularly represents publicly traded life sciences companies in securities matters, including IPOs, PIPEs, standby equity lines, at-the-market offerings and other types of financings, as well as advising these companies in ongoing reporting matters. He also represents venture-backed life sciences companies in financings and ongoing matters, and has extensive experience advising public and private life sciences companies in mergers and acquisitions, including tender offers, mergers and asset acquisitions and sales.Before joining Ropes & Gray in 2001, Marc was a partner at Palmer & Dodge in the Life Sciences and Technology Group.

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