OrbiMed founder and managing partner Sam Isaly yesterday stepped down in the wake of sexual harassment allegations lodged by several former employees of the healthcare hedge fund.
In a statement released last night, New York City-based OrbiMed said Isaly is leaving “pursuant to years-long succession planning discussions” and did not address the accusations from six women, first reported this week by STAT.
“I am extremely proud of what my distinguished partners and I have accomplished at OrbiMed and the difference we have made in the lives of patients worldwide,” Isaly said in the statement. “OrbiMed is a strong and vibrant company positioned for continued growth and this is a good time for me to pass the baton to the next generation of leaders.”
OrbiMed said it named a committee of Sven Borho, Carl Gordon and Jonathan Silverstein to take over Isaly’s managing partner duties.
Six former employees accused Isaly, a 72-year-old investor long revered in the biotech community for his ability to pick stocks, of routinely demeaning and harassing women with hardcore pornography and sex toys, STAT reported Dec. 5. Isaly has denied the allegations. The sixth accuser contacted the outlet after that story, requesting anonymity for fear of reprisal by the hedge fund.
Identified yesterday as Yanping Ren, the sixth accuser was a junior in college when she accepted a part-time internship at OrbiMed. Ren told STAT that Isaly routinely delivered vulgar and demeaning comments to women during her 18-month tenure, including remarks about their bodies. At least once a month, she said, she encountered women crying in the bathroom, “always related to something that happened in the office.”
“It was so normal in the company,” Ren told the site. “It was like a fact of life that everyone had to accept. Sam just did what he could get away with.”
The allegations mirror accusations leveled by five former OrbiMed employees about Isaly’s behavior. The story roiled Wall Street, prompting investment firm Eaton Vance to review its arrangement with OrbiMed, which provides it with investment advice, STAT reported earlier this week. OrbiMed said it’s hired an independent law firm to investigate the allegations.
Ren, now 29, told the outlet that she found Isaly’s conduct and its lack of consequences shocking. As her first experience in the world of finance, she assumed it was the norm.
“In college, you kind of hear about how crazy the workplace can be,” Ren said. “So I thought, ‘Oh this is just how it is.'”
Luckily her next job, at Vatera, was the opposite, where her boss was a woman and the culture was one of professionalism and respect, she said.
Although the fund did not respond to questions about Ren’s account, in a statement it said it “takes gender equality seriously and wishes to encourage a supportive work environment and equal opportunity for all employees.”
“When I read that statement, I found it quite funny,” Ren told STAT, “because it’s so far from the truth.”