ARTICLE | Finance

A Remembrance: An authentic giant

January 9, 2012 8:00 AM UTC

It's been a tough 13 months. Three of the larger-than-life figures in biotech are gone - Frank Baldino of Cephalon Inc., Jean Deleage of Alta Partners, and now Alex Barkas, who was managing director of Prospect Venture Partners.Alex died suddenly in November, shortly after Prospect had decided not todeploya new fund, and just as he was about to have moretime to share with his wife, Lynda Wijcik, and their two young daughters.As with many of those who came to the industry when it was young, Alex was big - not just physically, though he was that - but big in personality, big in intellect, big in generosity. You could hear him laugh across a continent.Alex was trained as a scientist, receiving a Ph.D. in biology from New York University and a B.A. in biology from Brandeis University, where he was a member of the board of trustees and chairman of the Brandeis University Science Advisory Council.He came to the U.S. from Germany in 1949 at the age of two, and met Lynda in 1977 when both were working in the genetics lab at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. After stints at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Whitehead Institute, Alex consulted for A.D. Little in Boston and at Advanced Biosearch Associates in California.In 1989, he and Lynda formed a consultancy called BioBridge Associates, which gave him his first taste of biotech venture capital. Alex began consulting for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, ultimately becoming a partner at the firm in 1991.Alex left KPCB along with David Schnell to form Prospect Venture Partners in 1997.All told, Alex helped found more than 50 companies, including Geron Corp. and Connective Therapeutics Inc. (which later became Connetics Corp.), both of which he served as the startup CEO.But that hardly tells the story of Alex. Only his friends and colleagues can do that, in the tributes from venture colleagues and industry friends.

Tom Kiley ...