Biotech Voices

On this Rare Disease Day, let’s all commit to helping recognize the life and work of biotech giant Henri A. Termeer

Last May the Cambridge community and entire biopharma industry suffered a tremendous loss with the unexpected passing of Henri A. Termeer. Henri was a former chairman, president and CEO of Genzyme Corporation for nearly three decades prior to its acquisition by the French drug maker Sanofi. Retiring from Genzyme in 2011, after his 28-year tenure, Henri led the company’s growth from a small start-up of 20 to 12,000 employees globally serving patients in more than 90 countries all while establishing Massachusetts as the mecca of biotech. He was known for his service to the rare disease community and his unsurpassed entrepreneurial leadership that spurred the rise of an industry dedicated to innovative treatments for orphan diseases. Henri set a standard, always putting patients first, and he forged the path for building a sustainable rare disease business, with many – including Alnylam – following his footsteps.  He was a mentor, a colleague, and a friend.

John Maraganore

To honor Henri’s legacy and celebrate his many contributions to the thriving industry that he helped build, a number of industry, academic and community leaders have come together to form the Henri A. Termeer Tribute Committee, which we have the privilege of co-chairing, working closely with Belinda and Adriana Termeer.

The focus of everything Henri did was to always do what’s right for patients. Fittingly, today on Rare Disease Day, a time dedicated to raising awareness for rare diseases and improving access to treatment and medical representation for individuals with rare diseases and their families, we will be re-naming a square in his honor as the “Henri A. Termeer Square,” located just opposite from the Genzyme Center in Kendall Square, Cambridge. Today would have also been Henri’s 72nd birthday.

Robert Coughlin

We have also commissioned renowned sculptor Pablo Eduardo to create a life-size sculpture of Henri to serve as a lasting remembrance of all he did for patients, next generation leaders and the community – the sculpture will be installed on the square in 2019.

Our current efforts and future initiatives focused on the development of our biotech community and on the mentorship of future leaders are intended to continue Henri’s remarkable legacy.

To learn more about these efforts, please visit termeertribute.org.

— John Maraganore and Robert Coughlin


John Maraganore is the CEO of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. Robert Coughlin is the president and CEO of MassBio.


Image: Feb. 16, 2011: Henri Termeer, chief executive officer of Genzyme, listens during a news conference announcing the deal where France’s Sanofi-Aventis agreed to buy Termeer’s company, ending a nine-month pursuit of Genzyme. Bloomberg via Getty Images


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