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Because Hamiltonians Seek Answers: Cevdet Samikoglu ’92


When his mother was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2010, Cevdet Samikoglu ’92 and his family moved to Turkey to be with her, at which point he pronounced himself retired from his successful Wall Street career.

Most recently he’d been co-portfolio manager and co-founder of Greywolf Capital Management; before that he worked at Goldman Sachs. He’d found his chosen path extremely satisfying, but after shepherding his mom through her final days, Samikoglu wanted more meaning in his life than what Wall Street could provide. 

A month after his mother died, he got a call from a high school friend in whose biopharmaceutical incubator Samikoglu had invested years earlier. The company, Samumed, had made a major scientific breakthrough. “And the particular breakthrough that it had unlocked is at the core of 95 plus percent of colorectal cancers,” Samikoglu says. Samumed was poised to grow dramatically, and his friend wanted Samikoglu to help to make it happen.

That was a spiritual moment for Samikoglu, who accepted the challenge. Soon after, in 2012, he, his wife, and two children moved from Turkey to San Diego, where Samikoglu is now Samumed president and chief financial officer. 

When he made the leap he knew nothing of the industry, but attributes his confidence to take it on in part to his College experience. Samikoglu entered Hamilton with a singular destination — Wall Street. He graduated in three years with an economics degree, managing also to take unrelated courses and engage in extracurricular pursuits that he still values today.

“The very thing that gave me comfort that I could come into a biotech environment, after never having dealt with biotech, and feel like I could add value here, is the fact that I could step into an anthropology class or music theory class and become a quick study. And I don’t say an expert, but someone who could follow, understand, and add value on the fringes. To be able to further a cause,” he says.

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His prior career had put him in a financial position to pursue the new venture. As he saw it, he could not pass up a chance to work to alleviate the suffering his mother and so many others had gone through. He wanted to be part of a search for cures.

Samumed conducts medical research and development for tissue-level regeneration and is testing promising drugs that address a range of degenerative diseases, regenerative medicine, and oncology. Working there has been the most satisfying phase of Samikoglu’s already satisfying career. 

“Here we are, sitting at a company that has a good chance of providing really groundbreaking treatments for the most prevalent musculo-skeltal ailments, oncology ailments, and neurodegenerative ailments like Alzheimer’s, that have been plaguing generations for God knows how long, and I just don’t know what can be a more worthwhile use of my time than what we’re pursuing here,” Samikoglu says.

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