UM’s Glick talks drug discovery, investment and working the day after a big deal

Earlier this month, Gary Glick, an emeritus professor of chemistry at University of Michigan and CEO of Boston-based IFM Therapeutics, sold his company in what’s expected to be one of the biggest biotech deals of the year.

The next day, he went in to work.

Now officially a serial entrepreneur, Glick is at the heart of a new-age race in drug research that holds potential to effectively treat some of the world’s most notorious diseases, like cancer, lupus and arthritis.

Taking a day off, even after a deal that could wind up valued at more than $2 billion, wasn’t in the cards.

“We believe that the auto-immune space is just opening up in drug discovery,” he said. “We wanted to be able to continue to work in that regard. So, I went to work the next day.”

Drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. agreed to acquire IFM Therapeutics and two of its drug programs. Bristol-Myers will pay $300 million with additional contingent payments to Glick and other shareholders worth up to $2.01 billion when the company’s products reach certain milestones. Further payments are also possible under the deal if new products are formed, according to a news release.

It was the second big deal for Glick. His previous company, Ann Arbor-based drug developer Lycera Corp., made a deal with drugmaker Celgene in 2015 to license its compounds that could be worth more than $100 million. Celgene also received an option to buy Lycera outright.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.

Glick also gets to keep his company as part of the deal. It will now operate as IFM Therapeutics LLC.

Funding for IFM is venture-backed, from firms such as Atlas Venture of Cambridge, Mass., and Boston-based Abingworth and drug company Novartis. It raised $27 million in series A funding in 2016, creating a 10-times return for investors just on the up front closing of the deal with Bristol-Myers. That’s considered a home run in venture capital investing.

Glick stepped down as chief scientific officer at Lycera to…

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