By Amanda Gordon (Bloomberg Business) – Cancer biologist Christine Mayr found common ground Thursday night with Bill Ackman.
“We both want to do things that no one else has done,” Mayr said after she chatted with the hedge fund manager at a dinner celebrating the winners of the Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research. She said they shared a love for digging into subjects.
Mayr, who received a doctorate in immunology from Humboldt University in Berlin in 2001, was one of the six prize recipients. Her work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center focuses on how to “inhibit the cancer-promoting function in a protein.”
Ackman established the prize through his Pershing Square Foundation to support groundbreaking investigation that wouldn’t otherwise receive conventional funding.
During the dinner, in a beautifully restored period room at the Park Avenue Armory, the activist investor directed attention to what he called scientific seating.
“If you think it’s an accident who you’re sitting next to, you’re wrong,” he told about 80 guests.
He was referring to Olivia Flatto, the dinner’s impresario, a scientist herself before she became a philanthropist and the executive director of the Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance.
Ackman sat at the center table with the winners, Timothy Chan, Arvin Dar, Evripdis Gavathiotis, Moritz Kircher, Sohail Tavazoie and Mayr. Also here were Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, dean of the Weill Cornell Medical College, and Craig B. Thompson, president and chief executive officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Harold Varmus, who’s working with the New York Genome Center and on the Weill Cornell faculty, and Kinga Lampert, of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, were also present.
Let’s just say if anything had happened to the people in that room, cancer research in New York would have suffered a major setback.