Dear MassBio Community,
After more than 13 years leading this wonderful organization, today I am announcing that I will be stepping down as President & CEO of MassBio in early 2021. This decision was extremely difficult, but I made it knowing that MassBio is well-positioned to succeed in the coming years, and that the organization will attract an amazing selection of candidates from diverse backgrounds and experiences to lead it into the future.
For a CEO, there is never a perfect time to leave. I will miss my colleagues, my interaction with members, my advocacy work at the State House and Capitol Hill, and most of all, I will miss leading an organization with the critical mission of growing the life sciences industry, adding value to the healthcare system, and improving patient lives.
As a trade association, MassBio’s success is defined by the value we offer our members individually and as a whole. When I started, we had close to 400 member companies. Today, due to the emergence of our ecosystem and our improved membership offerings, we now have over 1,400 members from across the life sciences. From the $1.5 billion of savings generated for our members through our MassBio Edge purchasing program over the last 13 years, to our impactful state and federal advocacy program, to our growing equity, diversity, & inclusion offerings, to our professional development and networking events, MassBio membership is more valuable than ever.
I have cherished my time at MassBio and am proud of the work we’ve done together. The Massachusetts life sciences cluster has gone from one of the best places in the world for our industry to the best because of our unique partnership between industry, academia, and government. We’ve gone from having only a few of the big biopharma companies with a physical presence here to having 18 of the top 20 companies with offices, R&D facilities, and more statewide. Industry employment has grown by 94% in the last 15 years, adding over 38,000 new, well-paying jobs to the state’s economy. Over 16.5 million square feet of commercial lab space has been built in the last 10 years and millions more is being constructed now. Perhaps most importantly, investment in early-stage R&D via our research institutions and start-up and emerging stage biopharmas has exploded with NIH and VC funding for our industry among the highest in our country. External partnering and IPOs from Massachusetts companies remain the rocket fuel that keeps our cluster on top and powers breakthrough cures and therapies.
As most of you know, this job and MassBio’s mission is personal to me. I’ve seen firsthand the power of the Massachusetts cluster. My son was born 18 years ago with cystic fibrosis. Because of decades of work and billions of dollars invested by a Massachusetts company, a drug was recently approved that has made my son healthier. Today, I can confidently say that he’ll outlive me. This was not something I could have said a few years ago.
So, to everyone I’ve met and worked with over the last 13 years, thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to lead. Thank you for everything you do for patients. Thank you for the friendships. Thank you for helping make Massachusetts the best place in the world for the life sciences. I will miss working directly with you all but I know our paths will cross again.
As MassBio looks forward, I’m excited to announce that our current Chief Operating Officer Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, is being promoted to President and COO, and Zach Stanley, our Vice President of Public Affairs, is being promoted to Executive Vice President. Together, they along with Kristine Kelly, our VP of Administration & Finance, will lead the organization in 2021 as the nationwide search for a new CEO takes place under the guidance of a Board led search committee and an executive search firm.
Robert K. Coughlin
President & CEO, MassBio