Alaska Permanent Fund Invests in Cancer Research Startup

Did you know sovereign wealth funds invest in cancer research? On December 4th, Seattle-based Juno Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology startup focused on cancer therapeutics, launched with US$ 120 million in series A funding. It was one of the biggest Series A rounds for biotechnology startups on record. The capital comes from investors including ARCH Venture Partners and CLAlaska LP. ARCH Venture Partners has a deep rooted history with academia, originally spun off from a technology commercialization initiative started by The University of Chicago. CLAlaska LP is a partnership managed by Fort Worth-based Crestline Investors on behalf of the US$ 48 billion Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC).

Co-founder Hans Bishop will lead as CEO of Juno Therapeutics.

Juno Therapeutics three strategic partners are The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute. These cancer research centers were once longtime rivals. Juno will focus on reprogramming immune cells called T lymphocytes.

From a Juno press release, Michael Burns, executive director of Alaska Permanent Fund, added, “Juno presents a compelling opportunity to partner with a sophisticated management team and group of world-class research institutions who share our long-term perspective. At a time when public financing for clinical development has largely dried up, the private-sector model is critical to allowing ventures like Juno to push the frontiers of research.”

Co-founder Hans Bishop will lead as CEO of Juno Therapeutics. Previously, he was an executive-in-residence at Warburg Pincus. Before that, Bishop was the chief operating officer of Dendreon, a Seattle-based biotechnology company that develops immunotherapy products used in cancer treatment.

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