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The advice that shaped Insitro CFO Mary Rozenman’s biotech career

Mary Rozenman initially set out to be a doctor, after watching her sister deal with uncontrolled epilepsy throughout her childhood.

But she realized in college, that blood made her cringe. Instead, Rozenman got her doctorate in organic chemistry and chemical biology from Harvard University. 

Then as a 26-year-old working under David Liu, a gene-editing pioneer, something about drug development didn’t sit right with the young chemist. Among the thousands of new discoveries each year, just a small handful of them make it through the “funnel,” she said.

“I envisioned a funnel, where you have at the top of the funnel all of these amazing discoveries and innovations that sort of move through the system,” Rozenman told Business Insider. 

“And somehow only a small handful of them get filtered into medicines that actually make it out into the real world’s drug supply,” she said.

Rozenman needed to understand how that funnel works, she said. What happened behind the scenes to squelch each year’s hundreds of thousands of breakthroughs, and where did the money come from to advance some things and not others? It led her to consider a career outside of research. 

“I wouldn’t know what the right place for me to participate was because I only understood the top of the funnel and the very bottom, from a patient’s perspective. And that’s why I went to McKinsey,” Rozenman said.

Read more: Meet the 30 young leaders who are forging a new future for healthcare in the pandemic’s shadow

One piece of advice changed Rozenman’s approach to changing the industry

Rozenman joined McKinsey in 2008 with the goal of touching every single piece of the pharmaceutical business from discovery to marketing, she said.

But a year in, Rozenman’s mentor Diem Nguyen of Pfizer, who at the time managed a $10 billion slice of the business, gave her some tough advice. 

“She said ‘You’re really smart and really good. But you’re going to hit a wall in your career unless you learn how to read a P&L,'” Rozenman said.

A profit and loss statement, or income statement, is one of the primary financial statements detailing a company’s revenues and expenses. The advice made Rozenman feel defensive, but at the same time, she was making strategic recommendations to large companies without a sufficient understanding of corporate finance, she said.

So Rozenman carved out a focus area within McKinsey, the intersection of pharma and corporate finance, as consultants there do in order to make partner, she said. In 2012, as a junior partner and leader in the firm’s healthcare practice, she left to use her new skills for Longitude Capital, a $1.2 billion venture capital firm for healthcare startups.

“That was the reason that I actually left the firm to be a venture investor,” Rozenman said. “That was the funnest part for me — thinking about these early stage technologies and how do you actually really push them along, and how much are they worth, and how do you make it happen?”

Reinventing drug

Avicenna: the Persian polymath who shaped modern science, medicine and philosophy

(MENAFN – The Conversation) Over a thousand years ago, Nuh ibn Mansur, the reigning prince of the medieval city of Bukhara, fell badly ill. The doctors, unable to do anything for him, were forced to send for a young man named Ibn Sina, who was already renowned, despite his very young age, for his vast knowledge. The ruler was healed.

Ibn Sina was an 11th century Persian philosopher, physician, pharmacologist, scientist and poet, who exerted a profound impact on philosophy and medicine in Europe and the Islamic world. He was known to the Latin West as Avicenna.

Avicenna’s Canon of medicine , first translated from Arabic into Latin during the 12th century, was the most important medical reference book in the West until the 17th century, introducing technical medical terminology used for centuries afterwards.

‘Arabic Medicine’, 1907, by Veloso Salgado. NOVA Medical School, Lisbon.

Avicenna’s Canon established a tradition of scientific experimentation in physiology without which modern medicine as we know it would be inconceivable.

For example, his use of scientific principles to test the safety and effectiveness of medications forms the basis of contemporary pharmacology and clinical trials.

Avicenna has been in the news recently due to his work on contagions. He produced an early version of the germ theory of disease in the Canon where he also advocated quarantine to control the transmission of contagious diseases.

Uniquely, Avicenna is the rare philosopher who became as influential on a foreign philosophical culture as his own. He is regarded by some as the greatest medieval thinker .

Read more: Explainer: what Western civilisation owes to Islamic cultures

Maverick and prodigious

Avicenna’s birthplace, Bukhara. Author provided

He was born Abdallāh ibn Sīnā in 980AD in Bukhara, (present day Uzbekistan, then part of the Iranian Samanid empire ). Avicenna was prodigious from youth, claiming in his autobiography to have mastered all known philosophy by 18.

Avicenna’s output was extraordinarily prolific. One estimate of his body of work counts 132 texts. These cover logic, natural philosophy, cosmology, metaphysics, psychology, geology, and more. Some of these texts he wrote while on horseback, travelling from one city to another!

His work was a virtuosic kind of encylopedism , gathering the various traditions of Greek late antiquity, the early Islamic period and Iranian civilisation into one rational knowledge system covering all of reality.

Avicenna’s texts were forged out of the colossal Graeco-Arabic translation movement that took place in medieval Baghdad . They then played a key role in the Arabic to Latin translation movement that brought Aristotle’s philosophy back, in a highly enriched manner, into Western thought.

A Latin commentary on Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine by Italian physician Gentilis de Fulgineo, 1477. Welcome LIbrary.

This was a chapter in the story of large-scale transmission of knowledge from the Islamic world to Europe .

From the 12th century on, Avicenna shaped the thought of major European medieval thinkers. Thomas Aquinas’s writings feature hundreds of quotations from Avicenna regarding issues such as God’s providence . Aquinas also sought

the Persian polymath who shaped modern science, medicine and philosophy

Over a thousand years ago, Nuh ibn Mansur, the reigning prince of the medieval city of Bukhara, fell badly ill. The doctors, unable to do anything for him, were forced to send for a young man named Ibn Sina, who was already renowned, despite his very young age, for his vast knowledge. The ruler was healed.

Ibn Sina was an 11th century Persian philosopher, physician, pharmacologist, scientist and poet, who exerted a profound impact on philosophy and medicine in Europe and the Islamic world. He was known to the Latin West as Avicenna.

Avicenna’s Canon of medicine, first translated from Arabic into Latin during the 12th century, was the most important medical reference book in the West until the 17th century, introducing technical medical terminology used for centuries afterwards.

‘Arabic Medicine’, 1907, by Veloso Salgado.
NOVA Medical School, Lisbon.

Avicenna’s Canon established a tradition of scientific experimentation in physiology without which modern medicine as we know it would be inconceivable.

For example, his use of scientific principles to test the safety and effectiveness of medications forms the basis of contemporary pharmacology and clinical trials.

Avicenna has been in the news recently due to his work on contagions. He produced an early version of the germ theory of disease in the Canon where he also advocated quarantine to control the transmission of contagious diseases.

Uniquely, Avicenna is the rare philosopher who became as influential on a foreign philosophical culture as his own. He is regarded by some as the greatest medieval thinker.




Read more:
Explainer: what Western civilisation owes to Islamic cultures


Maverick and prodigious

Avicenna’s birthplace, Bukhara.
Author provided

He was born Abdallāh ibn Sīnā in 980AD in Bukhara, (present day Uzbekistan, then part of the Iranian Samanid empire). Avicenna was prodigious from youth, claiming in his autobiography to have mastered all known philosophy by 18.

Avicenna’s output was extraordinarily prolific. One estimate of his body of work counts 132 texts. These cover logic, natural philosophy, cosmology, metaphysics, psychology, geology, and more. Some of these texts he wrote while on horseback, travelling from one city to another!

His work was a virtuosic kind of encylopedism, gathering the various traditions of Greek late antiquity, the early Islamic period and Iranian civilisation into one rational knowledge system covering all of reality.

Avicenna’s texts were forged out of the colossal Graeco-Arabic translation movement that took place in medieval Baghdad. They then played a key role in the Arabic to Latin translation movement that brought Aristotle’s philosophy back, in a highly enriched manner, into Western thought.

A Latin commentary on Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine by Italian physician Gentilis de Fulgineo, 1477.
Welcome LIbrary.

This was a chapter in the story of large-scale transmission of knowledge from the Islamic world to Europe.

From the 12th century on, Avicenna shaped the thought of major European medieval thinkers. Thomas Aquinas’s writings feature hundreds of quotations from Avicenna regarding issues such as God’s providence. Aquinas also sought to refute some of Avicenna’s positions such as that which argued