Former Tiger Cub Chris Shumway is helping Harvard University prepare a new breed of MBAs, equally at ease on Wall Street and in the laboratory.
With a $25 million gift, Shumway and his wife, Carrie Shumway, are supporting the joint life-sciences MS/MBA program at Harvard Business School, which took its first 11 students in August. Three-quarters of the class are women; all were life-sciences majors, and many have worked in the field.
Shumway said he couldn’t recall seeing a life-sciences case study during his time at the Business School in the early 1990s, after which he joined Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management. He became interested as he got involved with the startup Crestovo and saw it through a merger with Finch Therapeutics to develop microbiome-based drugs.
''We made significant investment in terms of capital and hiring that management team and growing that business,'' Shumway said. ''It was easy for us to find amazing scientists, and there are terrific entrepreneurs. Finding the intersection of those two groups was very difficult.''
Some of the funds are for financial aid and creating case studies. This year’s focus is on the Cambridge biotech Moderna and what’s happening at the Food and Drug Administration regarding the novel coronavirus. About 15 to 20 others are in the works, on topics including pharmaceutical companies acquiring small biotech firms and cell manufacturing.
Shumway and Dean Nitin Nohria started talking about a way for Harvard to mint science-grounded business graduates about six years ago.
''Nitin is an entrepreneur himself,'' said Shumway, 54, who shut his $8 billion hedge fund in 2011. ''He was open and already thinking about the connection points within Harvard that would allow this.''
The program was set up with Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. Its start during a global pandemic underscores the urgency of the gift’s objectives as the world ponders when safe vaccines and therapies will get to market and be in wide distribution.
The University of Virginia beat out Harvard for securing Shumway’s first $25 million gift in this area. Two years ago, Shumway donated to his undergraduate alma mater to help it start programs between the commerce school and the medical school.
''As I’ve gotten older, one of the things I’m thinking about is how do you have an impact,'' he said.
''In the commercial space, you can invest in organizations that have tremendous potential to save lives. The whole view is how do you create social good and have a positive commerce ecosystem around it, so you can encourage all the people who need to, to take action.''