Friday, May 12th, Genzyme founder Henri Termeer passed at age 71.
Termeer led Genzyme of almost 30 years. He rose to CEO shortly before its acquisition by Sanofi in 2011. Many in the industry credit Termeer with developing a business model that widened possibilities for rare and orphan therapies.
In 2011, he seeded the startup Henri and Belinda Termeer Center for Targeted Therapies at Massachusetts General Hospital with a $10 million donation.
After leaving Genzyme, Termeer sat on the board for companies including Abiomed, Aveo Pharma, Moderna Therapeutics and Verastem. He also played a key role in the foundation of Cambridge-based health policy company the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation.
As said to FierceBiotch, Bob Coughlin, president of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, said that Termeer was "one of the founders of the modern biotech industry" and had "changed the lives of patients around the world through his ongoing dedication to discovering breakthrough treatments for those with rare diseases."
In an interview with The Boston Business Journal, Josh Boger, founding CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, said that Termeer has served as his example for how to run a biotech firm since the early 1990s. Boger credited Termeer with his decision to serve as chairman of BIO, beginning in 2007.
The World Orphan Drug Congress said, "Henri was a biotech pioneer long before anyone knew what biotechs were. He founded Genzyme, which is often said to have kickstarted today’s orphan drug biotech M&A frenzy. Henri is definitely a mover/shaker in the biotech world and in the orphan drug space. He will always be known as the guy who figured out how to build a great business by making drugs for rare diseases. An inspiration and pioneer, many of his protégés have since moved on to lead other successful companies in the rare disease and biotech space thanks to his influence."