Scene Last Night: Ackman on Biology, Krawcheck on Gender

Dascha Polanco, who plays a prisoner in the Netflix show “Orange Is the New Black,” wore a dress with a swatch of blue to the Doe Fund’s gala last night, a nod to the blue uniforms of Doe Fund trainees who clean New York streets.

They’re formerly homeless or incarcerated people caught in the “cycle of poverty,” Polanco said. “I’m here because the Doe Fund has found a way to get them out of it.”

Marvin Schwartz, a managing director at Neuberger Berman Group LLC, and Michael Weisberg, founder of Crestwood Capital Management Inc., were among the gala co-chairmen.

Ballroom Bagpipes

The New York Police & Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund gala at the Waldorf Astoria kicked off with bagpipes and ended with a disc jockey spinning dance tunes at a volume that shook the Basildon Room’s chandeliers.

The dance party gathered young supporters of the fund, which gives aid to the families of those who have died in the line of duty. Guests included Michael Lawler, executive director of New York State’s Republican Party, and Philip Giambanco, an international sales trader at Citigroup Global Markets Inc.

The bagpipes had been in the ballroom earlier, before a dinner attended by Richard Rosenblatt, chief executive officer of Rosenblatt Securities Inc., and Lawrence Schloss, who is soon to start as president of Angelo Gordon & Co. after serving as the chief investment officer of New York City’s pension funds.

More Women

“Nothing bad happens when women and men come together -- not in that way, although that’s not bad either,” Sallie Krawcheck said on Oct. 23, at the 10th annual Hedge Fund Rocktoberfest.

The owner of 85 Broads Unlimited LLC, participating in the event’s first “VIP Roundtable” hosted by Yahoo Finance, was referring to bringing more women into finance (where she last worked as president of global wealth at Bank of America Corp.). Among the benefits of having more women around, studies have shown, are “lower risk and greater innovation,” she said.

After the roundtable at Capitale, a few hundred guests arrived to listen to bands formed by finance professionals.

Mead Welles, CEO of Octagon Asset Management LLC, played guitar with The Lifted Hits. Welles founded Rocktoberfest to raise money for A Leg to Stand On, which provides prosthetic legs for children in developing countries.

New Prize

“The peak of my biomedical education was my Bio AP exam that I took in high school,” Bill Ackman said on Oct. 22 at the Galien Forum, one of the world’s leading science conferences.

The CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management was there because Pershing Square Foundation has created a new prize for young, New York-based scientists.

“Basically, about a year ago I decided that the foundation had done a lot for education, economic empowerment, but really nothing in the field of health care, cancer research,” Ackman said.

One of his inspirations was participating in the Sohn Investment Conference, named for Ira Sohn, a Wall Street professional who died of cancer at 29. Ackman decided to partner with the Sohn organization and make a $25 million grant, creating the Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance.

“The problem is $25 million in the context of cancer is not a meaningful amount of money,” Ackman said. “I’m a capitalist, I look for inefficiencies in the markets.”

He recruited Olivia Flatto, a scientist with experience in philanthropy. She in turn involved Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of Rockefeller University, and Bill Doyle, executive chairman of Novocure.

Scientists Gap

“Some of the best ideas, some of the most important work, is done” by young scientists, Ackman said.

The Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research will provide $200,000 annual grants to fund “high risk, high reward” laboratory work for two to three years. Five grants will be made in the first year.

In his day job, Ackman said he hasn’t been an investor in science. “I’m going to meet some CEOs here, see if there are opportunities.”

The CEOs at the conference included Ken Frazier of Merck & Co., Alex Gorsky of Johnson & Johnson, and John Lechleiter of Eli Lilly & Co.

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

Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater and Zinta Lundborg on New York Weekend.

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