Nina Kjellson was just two years out of college, working as a research associate at Oracle Partners, a hedge fund in New York, when a cabbie gave her a stock tip. There was a company in New Jersey, he told her, trying to resurrect thalidomide, a drug that was infamous for causing severe birth defects, as a treatment for cancer.
Kjellson was born in Finland, where the memory of thalidomide, which was given to mothers to treat morning sickness but led to babies born without arms or legs, was particularly raw because the drug hit Northern Europe hard. But she was on the hunt for new cancer drugs, and her interest was piqued. She ended up investing a small amount of her own money in Celgene. That was 1999.