Sometimes, when your parents want you to be a doctor, you become a doctor, even though you have a yearning and an aptitude for business. In Lindsay Rosenwald’s case, he discovered a way to combine both, resulting not only in financial success, but also the development of some very important medical innovations which have saved and prolonged countless lives.
As a physician who is also a finance expert in asset management, investment banking, venture capital and direct investment in biotechnology and life-sciences, Lindsay has founded many development-stage biotech companies, including Coronado Biosciences™, on which he serves as chairman and CEO.
“There’s nothing like experience but eventually you have to find out how much risk you’re willing to tolerate.”
Over the years, the biotechnology companies he founded have led to dozens of licensed clinical-stage medicines, many of which have been approved by the FDA and regulatory bodies around the world. One in particular was approved for a rare form of acute leukemia, once a routinely fatal disease. The drug has cured many thousands of patients over the last decade.
Another cancer drug, Zytiga, developed by one of his start-up companies, is now a nearly $3 billion dollar-a-year drug for prostate cancer and part of Johnson & Johnson. Other drugs that he’s had his hand in include treatments for such wide-ranging diseases and conditions as schizophrenia, fibromyalgia, obesity, influenza, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis and infant respiratory distress syndrome.
One of the keys to his success is trusting his instincts. “There’s nothing like experience but eventually you have to find out how much risk you’re willing to tolerate,” he says. “You’ve got to figure out what the odds of success will be by combing through reams of data, and biotech has lots of data,” he says emphatically, “and then you have to go with your gut.”
Lindsay cites his upbringing as an inspiration for his drive. “I’m the middle son of three competitive boys who had intellectual wars at the dinner table,” he recalls. “I was the kind of kid who read the Wall Street Journal in eighth grade. In fact, I didn’t want to go to college at first; I just wanted to go into my father’s business, but my parents wouldn’t hear of it.”
“It’s so much better working with a smaller bank, like IDB. They treat you better and there are fewer layers of bureaucracy. IDB does everything a big bank does, but they do it faster and better.”
After graduating from Penn State with a major in finance and economics, Lindsay went on to medical school, again after his parents made their wishes known. “With a business background, I wasn’t sure I could do it at first, but I love challenges and just plowed ahead. Every hurdle made me stronger.” Soon after, he discovered the new world of biotechnology, where he saw enormous opportunities, especially now in immunology and oncology. The rest, as they say, is history—and the future.