NEA partner Nayeem joins newly launched biopharma fund

Nayeem said in an email to colleagues that on February 15 she is joining a biopharma venture fund that is associated with a large hedge fund in New York.

Sara Nayeem, a partner with New Enterprise Associates, is moving on from the firm she joined 12 years ago to help launch a new biopharma venture fund.

Nayeem would not discuss details, but in an email, she addressed to “colleagues” she sent on Friday, Nayeem said that the new fund is associated with a hedge fund in New York.

The name of the hedge fund involved with the venture effort, or who else is involved, is unknown but the new firm reportedly held a first close last week.

Nayeem will join the biopharma emerging manager on February 15.

Nayeem wrote in her email: “While it’s bittersweet given the wonderful colleagues and entrepreneurs with whom I’ve had the privilege of working during my time at NEA, I’m excited about the entrepreneurial nature of this next adventure.”

NEA has already taken down her online bio. Nayeem, who earned her medical degree from Yale University in 2006, joined NEA in 2009 and was promoted to partner in 2015. At the time she made partner, the firm put out a press release lauding her contributions to its biopharma practice. The statement also noted at the time that she served as a board member or board observer for several companies, including Omthera (which AstraZeneca acquired for as much as $443 million in 2013).

Before joining NEA, she was with Merrill Lynch’s global healthcare group and was an investment banking analyst at Morgan Stanley prior to that.

Her decision to leave NEA to join a biopharma-focused fund comes amid a pandemic when there is growing interest in life sciences investing to fight against the coronavirus and other diseases.

For instance, last month, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute launched Boston-based Binney Street Capital, its first-ever venture fund to invest in cancer-fighting drug developers.

Separately, the New York biotech investor Perceptive Advisors last fall launched LianBio in China to back start-ups behind new medicines in China and other Asian countries.