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Bio Leaders Mourn Passing of Genzyme Exec, Orphan Drug Innovator Termeer

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hope of a healthy life because of his vision and 40 years of creative business leadership. Locally, Henri strongly supported MGH, MIT and other institutes with his philanthropic generosity. He was always available to talk about business or policy and will be deeply missed by his friends.”

Third Rock Ventures co-founder Mark Levin: “Henri has been our leader for as long as I can remember. He was there when we got started, building a biotech company that would build, shape, and change our industry. He was in Washington D.C., when we needed leadership to educate our lawmakers and regulators about who we are and what we are doing. Through all his days at Genzyme and his last few years working with young entrepreneurs in their efforts to build the next ‘Genzymes,’ he was creating our leaders of the future. But most importantly, Henri was there every day to tell us to stay focused on our patients; and if we have that focus, our goals will be clear. That lesson we must never forget. I miss him already.”

MIT chemical engineering professor and longtime Genzyme director Charles Cooney: “It was indeed shock and sadness this morning when I heard of Henri’s untimely death. He was a friend and colleague for over thirty years. I remember well the day I met Henri and an interview quickly became recruitment to attract him from Baxter to lead Genzyme. His vision, passion for patients and energy made it clear that he could lead Genzyme from a start up to a firm that would define the biotech industry. I was on the Genzyme board during Henri’s entire time at Genzyme and consider it one of the greatest privileges in my career to have worked with him. His commitment to improve the lives of patients, to inspire employees to excellence at all levels of the company and to make the community a better place to work and live had so much impact on so many. I miss him dearly.”

Longwood Fund co-founder and partner Christoph Westphal: “Henri was a giant, one of a small group of key co-creators of the biotech industry. He was a dear friend and a mentor to me, and to many in the next generation of biotech. Henri was always positive and optimistic and full of energy and drive. He always put the patient first. Henri was a key inventor of the dominant business model of biotech—focusing on clearly defined, high need “orphan” patient populations.”

Xtuit Pharmaceuticals CEO and former Millennium Pharmaceuticals CEO Deborah Dunsire: “Henri has been a long time trustee at the Museum of Science. He always engaged fully in whatever he committed to. At the Museum of Science, he catalyzed the vision around creating the “Hall of Human Life,” simply asking the question about why, in one of the most vibrant biotech centers in the world, the museum did not speak more to the science of the body and health. He never thought small and his vision of what could be was the catalyst for the complete restructuring of one entire floor in the green wing that became the interactive Hall of Human Life. His enthusiasm and personal involvement drew in many both inside and outside of the biotech community to make the bold vision a reality.

On the business side, when Henri was Genzyme’s CEO and I was Millennium’s, we competed for the acquisition of AnorMed—Genzyme was a hostile bidder and Millennium the “white knight.” Genzyme ultimately bit at a level that Millennium felt overvalued the asset. We backed away, and Genzyme took it.  The back and forth played out in the Boston media, making it seem adversarial. But throughout that time, as we interacted outside of our formal business roles in our various community boards and activities, Henri never lost his graciousness and sense of humor in our interactions. He separated business and personal relationships to allow each to flourish. I always admired his ‘savoir faire!'”

Lysosomal Therapeutics co-founder, president, and CEO Kees Been: “Henri not only had a large impact on my life, he truly touched me. Henri was one of the founders of Lysosomal Therapeutics and it felt like he’d selected me for the job. He made you feel special, investing his own money and entrusting me with a large mission, to develop a drug for patients. His legacy reaches far beyond Genzyme, not just counted in number of patient-lives changed, but having launched many careers in biotech. His memory will last for as long as the Boston biotech community keeps growing.”

Atlas Venture partner Bruce Booth: “Henri was a giant of biotech, with very few peers in the forty-year history of the field. He played a key role in Boston’s emergence as a preeminent global biotech center, and infused everything he did with a deep conviction of serving and helping patients. His life was the essence of ‘doing well by doing good’. The incredible Genzyme diaspora that now leads many biotech companies in the region is a huge testament to his leadership, and his sincere cultivation and mentorship of talent for decades. He will be greatly missed.”

Arrakis Therapeutics CEO and X4 Pharmaceuticals co-founder Michael Gilman: “I’d just gotten to know Henri in the last couple of years through his role as a founder and investor at Arrakis and X4 Pharmaceuticals (where I’m also a founder and a board member). Just had dinner with him last month. Personally, I can tell you that he was truly as warm, kind, thoughtful, and supportive as everyone says. He was utterly sincere in his commitment to patients. He’s rightly recognized as a principal builder of the life science community in Cambridge, but I’d also note that his influence is so much broader than that in that he essentially wrote the book on how to develop and deliver drugs for patients with vanishingly rare disorders that were previously ignored by the industry. Thousands and thousands of patients around the world owe him their lives. That is a hell of a legacy.”

MassBio President and CEO Robert K. Coughlin: “Henri was a true visionary and an exemplary leader. As one of the founders of the modern biotech industry, Henri has changed the lives of patients around the world through his on-going dedication to discovering breakthrough treatments for those with rare diseases. Without Henri and Genzyme, Massachusetts would not have grown into the best biotech hub in the world. Personally, Henri was a friend, mentor, and inspiration for me to keep fighting for patients who still are searching for cures and treatments. He will be greatly missed by me, everyone who knew him, and the patients who he touched even if they never knew his name.”

Bob Buderi contributed to this report.

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