Business School’s Baker Library announces new collection

Henri Termeer.

Henri Termeer in a lab in the 1980s. Photo courtesy of HBS

3 min read

Harvard Business School (HBS) and Odgers Berndtson, a world leader in recruiting and developing organizational leaders, today jointly announced a new collection for the school’s Baker Library, made up of interviews with the colleagues and family of former Genzyme Corporation Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and President Henri A. Termeer, one of biotech’s early pioneers.

The “John Hawkins Research Interviews about Henri Termeer” collection is a donation of transcripts of research interviews conducted by Hawkins during the writing of his biography of Termeer, “Conscience and Courage: How Visionary CEO Henri Termeer Built a Biotech Giant and Pioneered the Rare Disease Industry.” There are more than 120 interviews included in this collection, with interviewees including leaders in biotech, science, academia, and government, such as former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, MIT president Rafael Reif, Harvard Medical School dean George Daley, and Biogen co-founder Dr. Philip A. Sharp.

Released in late 2019 and launched at Massachusetts General Hospital where Termeer had served on the board for 14 years, the book focuses on Termeer’s role as one of the first and most successful of a group of talented business executives who laid the foundations of today’s biotech industry. Hawkins commented, “Henri Termeer’s story is also a story of the history of orphan drug development, including the scientific, regulatory, and commercial challenges biotechnology innovators faced in introducing new, life-saving medicines for sometimes tiny markets. Leading Genzyme with his signature passion for patients, embracing personal responsibility as a cornerstone for successful leaders, and committing Genzyme to the introduction of therapies for unmet medical needs, Termeer cracked the code, creating the road map for today’s rare disease industry.”

Equally important to Termeer’s story was his role as a mentor and developer of other important leaders. Both during his most active years at Genzyme, but also later in his career following his retirement from the company in 2011, he had immense impact on the development of scores of biotech and other CEOs. The interviews feature his thoughts on leadership and lessons learned over the years as someone who helped revolutionize an industry. “His influence continues to be felt by a generation of entrepreneurs whom he inspired to take on large and important challenges,” added Hawkins. “An extraordinary number of today’s biotech leaders were directly mentored by Henri Termeer.”

“This collection provides scholars and students with insights into Henri Termeer’s career as a widely respected leader in the biotech community, both in the Boston area and internationally, providing a blueprint for today’s aspiring business leaders,” said Laura Linard, senior director, Baker Library Special Collections. “The materials also align with Baker Library’s focus on the records of innovative companies and the papers of thought leaders that have played a pivotal role in the contemporary business world.”

The de Gaspé Beaubien Reading Room, which houses special collections, is virtually open to researchers Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.