This is an incredibly powerful episode of the podcast.
John F. Crowley is the Chairman and CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, a publicly traded biotechnology company, which he helped found in 2005 and is now a 300+ person company in 22 countries. John’s involvement with biotechnology stems from the 1998 diagnosis of two of his children with Pompe disease — a severe and often fatal neuromuscular disorder. In his drive to find a cure for them, he left his job and became an entrepreneur as the Co-founder, President, and CEO of Novazyme Pharmaceuticals in 2000, a biotech start-up conducting research on a new experimental treatment for Pompe disease (which he credits as ultimately saving his children’s lives). In 2001, Novazyme was acquired by Genzyme Corporation for nearly $200 million.
John and his family are the subjects of a book by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Geeta Anand, The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million — and Bucked the Medical Establishment — in a Quest to Save His Children. The major motion picture Extraordinary Measures, starring Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford, is inspired by the Crowley family journey. John is the author of a personal memoir: Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope, and Joy.
John also served as a commissioned intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 2005-2016. He was assigned to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and is a veteran of the global war on terrorism, with service in Afghanistan. He graduated with a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and earned a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School and an M.B.A. from Harvard.
He previously served (2014-2016) as the National Chairman of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America and is a founding board member of the Global Genes Project. John is a Henry Crown Fellow at The Aspen Institute.
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- Stream by clicking here.
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Want to hear another interview with a superhuman scientist? — Listen to my in-depth conversation with Dom D’Agostino. In this episode, we discuss fasting, heavy deadlifts, and the end of cancer (stream below or right-click here to download):
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Connect with John F. Crowley:
- Amicus Therapeutics
- Pompe disease
- One Dad’s 14-Year Quest for Cure by Geeta Anand, The Wall Street Journal
- The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million — and Bucked the Medical Establishment — in a Quest to Save His Children by Geeta Anand
- Extraordinary Measures
- Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope, and Joy by John F. Crowley
- How to Climb a Rope Like a Navy SEAL by The Art of Manliness
- HBS case study: A Father’s Love: Novazyme Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
- How Genzyme Became a Source of Biotech Executives by Robert Weisman, The Boston Globe
- Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick
- Matt Swinton’s Declaration of Independence
- How Focusing on Obscure Diseases Made BioMarin a $15 Billion Company by Matthew Herper, Forbes
- Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution by Benson Bobrick
- The field of biotechnology owes a lot to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Genentech
- The Essential Rumi, New Expanded Edition by Jalal al-Din Rumi
- A Life-Saving Biotech with a Personal Mission (John on CNBC with Jim Cramer)
- Make-A-Wish Foundation
- The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil
- Plated and Blue Apron
- Growing up Catholic, John knows well the Hail Mary and The Lord’s Prayer
- Megan’s blog: High Heeled Wheels
- John explains what it’s like to be afraid of heights and practice fast-roping drills with Navy SEALs. [08:00]
- What John learned about sudden loss in childhood. [12:03]
- Was John like Captain America even at age 10? [15:52]
- In high school, what did John think he’d be when he grew up? [19:41]
- Mentors who had an impact on John during his early years. [20:26]
- What does a curriculum at The School of Foreign Service at Georgetown entail? [22:44]
- John’s special connection to the University of Notre Dame. [23:49]
- What a class at Harvard Business School is like for someone who’s not good at math. [28:22]
- The events surrounding John’s children being diagnosed with Pompe disease. [32:04]
- How looking for a cure became a full-time job. [37:00]
- On the difficult protocols involved with getting John’s own children treated. [47:10]
- The best Christmas present John could have wished for. [50:11]
- Conventional rules of the biotech business John broke in pursuit of a cure. [52:16]
- Early treatment: improvements and plateaus. [55:46]
- How are Megan and Patrick doing today? [58:03]
- On the principles of good parenting. [1:00:57]
- Advice for parents of children with special needs. [1:04:23]
- “Little people can teach us big people an awful lot if we just listen.” [1:05:53]
- How does one create an economically viable company when developing drugs to treat rare diseases? [1:11:08]
- What drives John today, and how did he choose the name “Amicus” for his company? [1:13:29]
- What prompted John to get reinvolved with the miltary? [1:16:09]
- Characteristics that make John capable in the elite military world, and what carries over from his business experience? [1:17:23]
- As someone who’s so busy on multiple fronts, how does John keep from feeling overwhelmed? [1:20:07]
- Most-gifted books. [1:21:34]
- Inspiring, but underrated or lesser-known leaders. [1:23:22]
- How would John advise someone to train for resilience? [1:28:01]
- How does one balance living like there’s no tomorrow with the planning required for long-term goals? [1:33:02]
- Altruism: where to begin? [1:41:43]
- Hopes for the future of genetic medicine and the pursuit of longer lifespans. [1:44:02]
- Likely breakthroughs ahead. [1:45:46]
- John’s daily habits. [1:48:38]
- What a Crowley evening workout looks like. [1:52:32]
- Ways of coping with insomnia. [1:55:03]
- What is grace? [1:56:40]
- What would John’s billboard message be? [1:56:58]
- Parting thoughts on healthcare and high heeled wheels. [1:57:30]
- Geeta Anand
- Brendan Fraser
- Harrison Ford
- General Stanley McChrystal
- Megan K. Crowley
- Jason Statham
- Aileen Crowley
- Bill Clinton
- Madeleine Albright
- Jeane Kirkpatrick
- William Colby
- Steven C. Wheelwright
- John Crowley, Jr.
- Patrick Crowley
- William Canfield
- Henri Termeer
- Matt Swinton
- Robert Ginsberg
- Ed Devinney
- George Washington
- Benedict Arnold
- Eugene Kleiner
- Tom Perkins
- Bob Swanson
- Herb Boyer
- Jonas Salk
- Anna Quindlen
- Jalal al-Din Rumi
- Chris Greicius
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