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John F. Crowley

John F. Crowley

Subject of Extraordinary Measures

Biography

John Crowley is an American entrepreneur and a true inspiration. He is presently the Chairman & CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, based in Cranbury, N.J. Amicus is a $1 Billion, 300 person publicly held biopharmaceutical company working on the development of drugs to treat a range of human genetic diseases. His involvement in the biotech industry goes back over a decade and stems from the 1998 diagnosis of his two youngest children, Megan and Patrick, with Pompe disease: a rare and fatal neuromuscular disorder. Crowley embarked on his journey as an entrepreneur to find a treatment that would save his kids’ lives – and the lives of thousands of others. Read More >

Following their diagnosis in 1998, Megan and Patrick were given just months to live. Frustrated with the pace of Pompe research, and wanting to do whatever he and his family could to change the course of their children’s prognosis, Crowley walked away from it all as he quit his job as a marketing director at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Crowley traveled the world over, competing against time as well as business, medical, and scientific establishments that were slow to move and even slower to accept his hard-charging determination.

Grasping at one last hope, he helped to co-found in 2000 a five-person start-up biotech company called Novazyme Pharmaceuticals, focused exclusively on developing a treatment for Pompe. In less than a year, the company went from $1 million angel investor financing to $27 million in venture capital financing, and was then acquired for nearly $200 million by Genzyme Corporation. On January 9, 2003, Patrick and Megan began to receive an experimental enzyme therapy developed by Genzyme that has saved their lives. They continue to fight the battle against Pompe one day at a time.

Crowley and his wife of 20 years, Aileen, are the authors of a personal memoir of their family’s journey: Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope and Joy.

The Crowley family has been featured on the cover of The Wall Street Journal; on The Today Show and numerous other TV shows; and is the subject of a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Geeta Anand, The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million – And Bucked the Medical Establishment – In a Quest to Save His Children. A major motion picture inspired by Anand’s book and the Crowley family entitled Extraordinary Measures, starring Brendan Fraser, Harrison Ford and Keri Russell, was released in theaters nationwide in 2010. In 2011, the Crowley family was the recipient of the Family Exemplar Award from the University of Notre Dame.

A commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, Crowley is assigned to the United States Special Operations Command 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 is also a member of the University Council on Science & Technology at Notre Dame, serves on the executive committee of the National Board of Directors of the Make A Wish Foundation of America, and is a founding Board member of the Global Genes Project. Crowley is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Commencement

Biotech

Speech Topics

Risk & Innovation: Reflections on Drug Research

In this thought provoking keynote, inspirational entrepreneur John Crowley explores the coming age of biotech and the vital roles of new technologies through reflecting on his own incredible journey toward finding a treatment for Pompe disease.  Upon discovering that his two young children could die from this rare condition that was once deemed incurable, Crowley left a secure job, risked financial stability and put everything on the line to become a key player in the development of a life-saving enzyme replacement therapy. Read More >

Provoked by slow-moving research and driven by an undying devotion to save the lives of his children, Crowley challenged standard scientific practices, implemented the use of new technologies and successfully led innovation and strategy at Novazyme toward creating a groundbreaking treatment.

Sharing the importance of taking risks, challenging standard thought practices and the significant role emerging nanotechnologies play in science today, Crowley imparts an informed message of hope for future advances in science and explores the vital role such advances will play in extending and enhancing human life. Read Less ^

Chasing Miracles: When Drug Research Is Personal

Told there was no cure that could save his children from Pompe and frustrated with slow-moving research on the disease, Crowley took control of the situation.  He traveled the world over, competing against time as well as business, medical and scientific establishments that were slow to move and even slower to accept his hard-charging determination. Left with no other option, he helped to co-found Novazyme Pharmaceuticals to focus exclusively on developing a treatment for Pompe. In less than a year, the company went from $1 million in angel financing to $27 million in venture capital financing and was then acquired for nearly $200 million by Genzyme Corporation. Read More >

In this motivating presentation, Crowley explains how he pulled together a diverse team of researchers and investors, convinced them to buy into his vision and ultimately led a company toward success in the face of doubt – all while overcoming obstacles, meeting conflicts head-on and maintaining employee morale along the way. Read Less ^

Never, Never, Never Quit: Lessons from an Entrepreneur

Care for the Caregiver