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BIO Statement on the Passing of Biotechnology Giant Henri Termeer

May 15, 2017

Termeer was a key architect in the founding of BIO, a mentor to countless entrepreneurs, executives and researchers, and passionate in his pursuit of innovative patient-centric drug development.

Washington, DC (May 15, 2017) – Henri Termeer, who passed away at the age of 71, was a founding father of modern biotechnology. He brought to his work, and to his life, a passion, a vision and a perseverance to bring ground-breaking medical innovations to those suffering from rare diseases.

Through his work, Termeer became a mentor and a role model for biotechnology entrepreneurs around the globe. The culture he created at Genzyme, and at the various institutions he worked for throughout his career, was widely seen as the gold standard for patient-focused drug development. He was a master at creating cultures where great science and great people could flourish.  As the Boston Globe aptly noted, Termeer had “magnetism and warmth, and a deft ability to harness top talent toward a common goal.”

Termeer, who was a larger-than-life figure across the biotechnology field, was instrumental in the founding of BIO in 1993, serving as its first vice chair for health.
He was named Chairman of the organization in 1996. During his tenure as Chair of BIO, and in the years that followed, Termeer was a key catalyst in the growth of the organization and in establishing BIO’s position at the forefront of key policy and regulatory debates. He was an active member of BIO’s Board of Directors since its founding until his death, with only a short break in his tenure. Termeer served on BIO’s Executive Committee from 1993 to 2000.

Following are statements from leadership at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO):

“Few people in our industry have had as profound an impact as Henri Termeer on the science of biotechnology and the patients who depend on it,” said Jim Greenwood, President and CEO of BIO. “He had a unique ability to inspire the men and women around him. Henri certainly was a brilliant businessman and a charismatic leader, but his burning passion was to do the unthinkable – to innovate and to treat and cure rare diseases that others believed too difficult to tackle. Henri's love of his profession and the people in it was contagious. He taught us that even though our companies were sometimes competitors, our industry must speak with a united voice in the corridors of power. He was a founding father of BIO and thus the thriving ecosystem the biotechnology community enjoys today is another central part of his legacy. Henri was admired, respected and loved by all of us who were fortunate enough to know him as a colleague, a teacher, and a friend. He is an irreplaceable talent who will be long remembered and sorely missed.”

“Henri Termeer was a giant,” said Ron Cohen, President & CEO of Acorda Therapeutics and Chair of BIO. “He has left us much too soon. High among his many legacies are the tens of thousands of patients and their families who have benefited from Genzyme’s innovations, and the scores of biotechnology professionals whom he mentored and who have gone on to be leaders at other companies.”

“I had the honor of having worked at Genzyme and calling Henri Termeer a mentor,” said Paul Hastings, Chairman and CEO of OncoMed Pharmaceuticals and Vice Chair of BIO. “He taught us all to be tough and business minded, while simultaneously taking into account how every decision impacted every person in the organization that was part of making Genzyme what it was. His focus on always doing the right thing for people and the business was something truly special. We all lost a great friend, a great mentor and a wonderful role model.”

From 1993-1998, Hastings served as Vice President, Global Marketing, Genzyme Therapeutics, President of Genzyme Europe and President of Genzyme Therapeutics.

"Henri has left us far too soon, but his legacy and contributions to our industry and patients with rare diseases will last forever,” said John Maraganore, CEO of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. “Indeed, Henri pioneered the advancement of innovative medicines for orphan disease and inspired other companies and entrepreneurs to follow. He will be deeply missed."

"As an industry leader Henri was unparalleled and unrivaled,” said Jeremy Levin, chairman and CEO of Ovid Therapeutics.  “As a mentor and friend, he was a foundational component of my business philosophy and career.  He will be mourned and deeply missed but never forgotten."

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