Hamptons Scene: Harvard Researcher Eggan Courts Patricof, Wien

New York Stem Cell Foundation
John Eastman welcomes guests to a New York Stem Cell Foundation fundraising party at his home in East Hampton, New York. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Harvard scientist Kevin Eggan started Friday in Bar Harbor, Maine, speaking at the Jackson Laboratory, the U.S.’s largest repository of mutant mice.

Two commercial-plane rides and one long drive later, he was at a cocktail party in East Hampton, New York, benefiting the New York Stem Cell Foundation.

Eggan, associate professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard University, is chief scientific officer of the New York Stem Cell Foundation.

This year the foundation will spend $18 million -- a $6.4 million increase over last year -- on stem cell and neuroscience research, including grants to early-career investigators.

“This is disruptive medical research, like the discovery of penicillin,” said Eggan, standing near a row of blue hydrangea bushes at the home of Jodie and John Eastman on Lily Pond Lane.

The red-haired 2006 MacArthur Fellow is developing a stem cell bank that will allow drugs to be tested in the laboratory.

“It’s a clinical trial in a dish,” he said. “We can see better which people respond to which drugs before putting them in humans.”


Eggan nursed a Campari-and-soda while he chatted with guests including Byron Wien, vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Partners LP; Alan Patricof, managing director and founder of Greycroft Partners LLC; Jonathan Schulhof, managing director of GTI Capital Group LLC; and Peter J. Solomon, chairman and founder of Peter J. Solomon Co.

“The amount of time I spend at an event like this is a fraction of the time I spend writing a grant,” Eggan said. “Not only that, the money that results is more flexible and makes us more nimble.”

Accountability is another plus. “People like Stanley and Fiona Druckenmiller and Julian Robertson, they demand results because they’re used to getting them. I love that,” Eggan said.

Robertson, founder of Tiger Management LLC, gave $27 million to the foundation to fund early-career investigators. The foundation will honor him at a fundraising dinner on Oct. 11 in New York.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

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