A hedge fund manager you've never heard of made $300 million last year

Institutional Investor just released its annual hedge fund manager rich list, and there’s a noteworthy new addition.

Joseph Edelman, whose Perceptive Life Sciences Fund was a top performer last year, joined the rich list after earning $300 million in 2015.

Edelman, 60, launched the biotech- and healthcare-focused firm Perceptive Advisors in 1999. Last year, its life sciences fund gained 51.8%.

Perceptive ranked as one of the five best-performing hedge funds as of December last year, according to HSBC data.

That’s despite numerous highly-publicized hedge fund closings and redemptions last year, and many of the industry’s titans having stumbled.

Hedge funds focused on the biotech sector, however had a better time of it. The average hedge fund that invests primarily in biotech stocks was up 9.64% as of December, the HSBC report showed.

Key investments

The fund makes public and private investments. One of those investments resulted in a big payday late last year, the New York Post’s Michelle Celarier reported. On December 17, AstraZeneca said it would pay $4 billion for a 55% stake in Acerta Pharma, a biotech startup that focuses on treating leukemia.

Perceptive held an 8% stake in Acerta. According to the Post, Perceptive made 20 times its initial stake, which it bought for $21.5 million.

Deep roots in biotech

Edelman’s roots in biochemistry run deep. His father, Isidore “Izzy” Edelman, was a renowned scientist. Izzy, who died in 2004, was a professor emeritus of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he spent 26 years.

The younger Edelman began his career on Wall Street in 1987 as a biotechnology analyst at the brokerage firm Labe, Simpson & Company. In 1990 he moved to Prudential Securities as the senior biotech analyst, and he stayed there for the next four years.

In 1994 he transitioned to the buy side, joining Paramount Capital Asset Management, where he ran The Aries Funds until 1998.

Edelman graduated magna cum laude with a degree in psychology from the University of California at San Diego. He earned his MBA from New York University.

Julia La Roche contributed to an earlier version of this post.

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