Scene Last Night: Julian Robertson, Morimoto, Colicchio

Julian Robertson
Kazutoshi Takahashi, recipient of the Robertson Stem Cell Prize, Julian Robertson, founder of Tiger Management LLC, and Susan Solomon, CEO, New York Stem Cell Foundation. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Julian Robertson, whose firm Tiger Management LLC has bred some highly successful “cub” money managers, discouraged that career path in an interview last night.

“I would really rather see young people go into engineering or stem cells,” Robertson said at a gala for the New York Stem Cell Foundation. “There are too many people managing money now.”

With that, he walked into a roomful of scientists.

First he congratulated the recipient of the NYSCF Robertson Prize, Kazutoshi Takahashi, who will receive $200,000 for his research on pluripotent stem cells at Kyoto University.

“You’ve got a Nobel too!” Robertson said, referring to Monday’s announcement that the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine would be awarded to Shinya Yamanaka, in whose laboratory Takahashi worked.

Then there was conversation with researchers at Rockefeller University, NYU School of Medicine and other institutions, in which he learned about a study of the brains of the songbirds.

“We try to bring the lab to everybody,” said Susan Solomon, chief executive officer and co-founder of the NYSCF.

The cocktail hour in the atrium at Jazz at Lincoln Center was set up as a science fair. Around the room, posters detailed stem cell studies of Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease. Researchers in white laboratory coats stood by ready to talk about their work as waiters passed Portobello mushroom cannoli.

Only Tie

Takahashi, 34, studied the posters. “I don’t wear this kind of suit, only a lab coat,” he said. “This is the only tie I own.”

Robertson said he became interested in funding stem cell research after he heard about a couple who had twins, one of whom was over-oxygenated at birth. She’d become “virtually a vegetable, while the other was vibrant and fabulous,” Robertson said. “They heard about a woman at Duke who injected people with their own cord blood. The child responded dramatically.”

Autism Speaks

At the Autism Speaks to Wall Street gala last night at Cipriani Wall Street, 500 guests had their meals prepared tableside by restaurant chefs.

Duncan Niederauer, CEO of the NYSE Euronext, got to watch Tom Colicchio make his dinner. Masaharu Morimoto and Rick Moonen were also seen slaving over stoves. Jonathan Waxman offered his customers tips for cooking lobster (not too much water, and a good amount of salt).

Niederauer and his wife, Alison, have served as chairmen of the event the past few years. Their son Liam is on the autism spectrum.

“Liam will tell you he wants to be a chef when he grows up,” Alison Niederauer said. “Maybe one day he’ll be a celebrity chef at this event.”

Meanwhile first-grader Ethan Walmark, son of Michael Walmark, a managing director at JP Morgan Securities LLC, performed “Piano Man” by Billy Joel.

Ethan, who is autistic, loves communicating through music. He wasn’t so into the gourmet food, though.

“He requested chicken nuggets with a side of ketchup,” said his mother, Allison Walmark.

That dish may have been preferred at the Goldman Sachs Group table, where Minetta Tavern chefs offered oeuf en gelee. A lot of the pale-yellow Jello-looking stuff was left on plates.

“There is a genuine community of people I see here every year, people from different firms,” George Mueller of KKR & Co. said. “This is a very unique charity event. I don’t know of another set up this way.”

(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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