This month Gianni is retiring. We have been working together for almost 10 years. Gianni is a top level immunologist, with several claims to fame in his career: former head of biology at Human Genome Science and, before that, head of the cytokine and monoclonal antibody groups at Roche, where he also headed the interferon gamma group. He brought to the clinic the first ever drug from genomics research (MPF1). Finally, he's a relentless tailor of so many academic collaborations and he was responsible for extramural research at Merck Serono, his last corporate job. Then, for the last 10 years Gianni has been active in venture capital, having joined our Geneva office, as in house scientific advisor.
I cannot even count the numbers of fundamental contributions that Gianni has brought to our investment practice: two calls above all the others: he was the first to see the breakthrough potential of the idea set forward by David Grainger: when David walked in the Index office for the first time in 2006, Gianni said “I have not seen this before, we cannot let it go." And his other top call was about the Amunix technology, developed by Pim Stemmer: Gianni was really one of the key drivers, alongside Mark de Boer and Kevin Johnson, behind our excitement for the technology, that compelled us to form Diartis and Versartis, two distinct joint ventures with Amunix, that retained the technology, while Diartis used the technology for a GLP1 product, and Versartis for a human growth hormone.
To date, David Grainger’s company has been sold to Boehringer Ingelheim and both Diartis and Versartis have already demonstrated the value of their products. Gianni also made many calls that helped us avoid making the wrong investments.
Sharp brains, tough character and an incredibly modest and likeable person.
He will now be at home, and I really hope that Donata, his wife, will be able to cope with him….Granted, Gianni will spend a lot of his time in his beautiful garden, attending to one of his favorite hobbies: nurturing sheep! The other being sailing: for that he often drives to Lake Maggiore. Thanks Gianni. Have fun on the next big thing.