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Name checks: Last night's Koch Institute fundraiser

Posted by Scott Kirsner  April 7, 2010 01:11 PM

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Quite an impressive group of investors, entrepreneurs, and scientific researchers gathered at a swanky Concord manse last night for a fundraising event for MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research; the evening's entertainment was a talk by renowned MIT researcher Bob Langer about his work developing new drug delivery systems to combat cancer.

Here's who I saw: Koch Institute executive director Robert Urban, MIT giving officer O'Neil Outar, and Bob Metcalfe of Polaris Venture Partners (at right.) Polaris, which has helped fund scads of start-ups spawned by Langer's MIT lab, was well represented at the event: founding partner Terry McGuire was there, as was Alan Crane.

Other VCs in the house included Michael Greeley of Flybridge Capital Partners, Bob Higgins from Highland Capital Partners, Nick Galakatos of Clarus Ventures... Noubar Afeyan from Flagship Ventures...and PureTech Ventures founder Daphne Zohar. All that capital in one room was a good thing, as the Koch is trying to raise $150 million for its new building (due to open in December) and $100 million for its research activities.

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During the cocktail hour, angel investor Jean Hammond was chatting with Lita Nelsen, director of MIT's Technology Licensing Office (pictured at left)...I also spotted Millipore CEO Martin Madaus... Raju Kucherlapati of Partners HealthCare's Center for Personalized Genetic Medicine...Alnylam CEO John Maraganore.... Synta Pharmaceuticals CEO Safi Bahcall....Sylvie Gregoire, president of Shire Human Genetic Therapies....Ken and Laura Morse....and MIT president Susan Hockfield, who, as a PhD neuroscientist, undoubtedly grokked much more of Langer's PowerPoint presentation than I did.

Benefactor David H. Koch was there, of course; his Kansas-based conglomerate, Koch Industries, is the second-biggest privately-held company in the U.S. "Some of my very favorite people in the world of cancer research are here tonight," Koch declared.

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The Chorallaries of MIT, a student a capella group, closed out the night with a short (but rousing) performance. Appropriately enough for a fundraiser, the opening number was the Aretha Franklin hit "Share Your Love With Me." (That's The Chorallaries posing with Hockfield, at right.)

I would love nothing more than to one day endow something really big at the Koch Institute (perhaps the Scott A. Kirsner Pipette.) But my only contribution last night was $2 to the speedy valet parker who brought my car around.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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