“Behind the Deal” on Precision Medicine Group: Julia Kahr, Anushka Sunder and Natasha Gopaul
Last year, Blackstone invested in Precision Medicine Group (PMG), a next-generation life sciences services and technology company that helps biopharmaceutical companies design and conduct complex biomarker-based clinical trials and bring innovative therapies to market. We sat down with three Blackstone women who led this deal—Julia Kahr, Anushka Sunder and Natasha Gopaul—to learn more about our partnership with PMG and how the deal came together. They also shared reflections on their experiences as senior women in the private equity industry.
Julia Kahr is a Senior Managing Director in our Private Equity group who has been involved in analyzing numerous investments in the healthcare and general industrial sectors. She serves on the Board of Directors of Precision Medicine Group.
Anushka Sunder is a Managing Director in our Private Equity group who focuses primarily on investments in healthcare and technology. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Precision Medicine Group.
Natasha Gopaul is a Managing Director in Blackstone’s Chief Legal Office and General Counsel for the US Private Equity business.
Q: How did Precision Medicine Group first come onto Blackstone’s radar?
Julia Kahr: Life sciences has long been a high-conviction theme for us, across the firm and within the Private Equity group. We’ve spent many years focused on how companies can reduce the time-to-market for drug development, with the goal of getting medicines to patients faster. So we had actually been following Precision Medicine Group for a while prior to the acquisition. We saw how the company was growing from its origins as a much smaller business, and it was clear that PMG was squarely focused on an area of major interest to us.
Anushka Sunder: This investment reflects our focus on companies driving innovation in life sciences. Our team is a big believer in disruptive transformation across R&D, drug development and commercialization, and this was a great opportunity to back a high-science, high-quality platform in the area of precision medicine with a lot of growth potential.
Mark Clein and Ethan Leder, PMG’s founders, are also well-known as pioneers in their space. They have a unique talent for identifying big shifts in biopharma development and commercialization early on. We had seen their success from afar and could tell that PMG and its team were best-in-class.
Q: Mark, who is PMG’s CEO, has said that he wasn’t sure at first how a firm of Blackstone’s size would mesh with his company’s entrepreneurial culture. How did you establish a relationship that ultimately proved to him otherwise?
AS: We were very proactive in spending time with the company—virtually during COVID and even some socially distanced in-person visits—and we did our part to share our diligence findings and operational resources along the way.
We also wanted to establish camaraderie with the PMG team. It was important to demonstrate that we could be nimble, entrepreneurial, and honestly, just fun to work with.
Natasha Gopaul: There were several opportunities during the due diligence process for us to naturally showcase the strength of the Blackstone platform to PMG. They were able to witness for themselves everything that Julia and Anushka had pitched to them about us—the fact that as an institution we are focused on serving as a partner to our portfolio companies. We want to support our management teams and ultimately strengthen our companies by ensuring they can easily draw from the resources, experience and talent built within Blackstone and its network.
JK: I think that by the time we got to signing, the founders felt very comfortable and excited about partnering with us—and we felt the same way.
Q: Did you collaborate with other teams at Blackstone in this process?
NG: Absolutely. We’ve been expanding our platform in the life sciences space for years prior to this transaction, and as a result we were able to draw on our network and internal expertise, which proved to be invaluable.
JK: This deal is a poster child for collaboration across the firm. We worked very closely with Blackstone Life Sciences in the early stages of due diligence, and they were able to provide a real customer perspective because some of their portfolio companies had been customers of PMG.
AS: There was also a lot of partnership with our Portfolio Operations team. They supported the diligence process in so many areas—IT, data science, talent management, organizational design, margin optimization. They were a resource to PMG during our diligence and sign-to-close process, and they’ve been actively engaged since closing.
And by the way, we couldn’t have navigated it without Natasha, who instinctively knew how to react to and proactively address some very complex situations that invariably arise during deals. She also knew the right people to contact at the right firms and provided some invaluable counsel to the company before we even invested.
Q: Where do you see opportunities to help scale PMG’s business? How are you working with the PMG team in these areas?
AS: On the growth side, we are focused on adding new clinical trials and biopharma clients. We also see potential for commercial synergies between PMG and Blackstone Life Sciences, given their therapeutic overlap in oncology and rare disease. Growing PMG’s data analytics offerings, global expansion, and continued M&A are other areas we’re spending time on. We speak to the management team frequently and have an open and free-flowing dialogue as we work together on these opportunities.
JK: I think another way we’ve been able to add value that is unique to Blackstone is building PMG’s relationship with other companies in our portfolio. For example, BioMed, our Real Estate portfolio company which owns biotech and biopharma lab and office space, is able to provide valuable insights to PMG based on what they see in the market. We’re constantly thinking through other areas for larger-scale collaboration across Blackstone.
Q: The private equity industry is still largely seen as a male-dominated field. As senior women at Blackstone, how have you seen the firm’s private equity business evolve over time to become more inclusive?
JK: When I joined Blackstone 16 years ago, I was the only woman in our Private Equity group. The firm has made incredible progress since then and women made up 45% of our 2020 analyst class, which I’m very proud of.
I think that when younger women see examples of successful senior women at the firm, it shows them that this is an environment where women’s growth, mentorship and success are a priority.
AS: Definitely. I’ve been fortunate to find great mentors—men and women—at Blackstone, who were personally invested in my success. It’s not just about occasional advice—it’s so much more than that. My mentors ensured that my work was recognized and that I was given real opportunities to advance my career.
We are really focused on further improving long-term retention. It’s not a talent issue; it’s a matter of actively giving people the right stretch opportunities so that they can shine, and I think we’ve all benefited from that.
This group and many others across Blackstone have proven that women can go toe-to-toe with anyone else in the industry and that we can work together to accomplish great things.
NG: I’d echo that. It’s a gratifying experience to work on teams staffed with talented female deal professionals, as well as female advisors, who have distinguished themselves as experts in their fields. It’s concrete evidence that we are making real strides, and also a reminder that we have a role in ensuring this progress continues.
The optimal situation is when you know diversity is embraced in the room you are sitting in—and that as a result, you are solely focused on the talents, skills and contributions of the people around the table. Blackstone’s culture really encourages that. It’s something I see all the time, whether in smaller informal team meetings or investment committee. If you have something thoughtful to say, people at Blackstone will listen, no matter your gender or seniority.
Hear more from Precision Medicine Group CEO Mark Clein on partnering with Blackstone.