John Crowley (biotech executive)

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John Francis Crowley (born April 7, 1967) is an American biotechnology executive and entrepreneur. He is best known as the founder of several biotech companies devoted to curing genetic diseases.

Early life and education

Crowley was raised in Bergen County, New Jersey, the son of an Englewood police officer who died in an accident on duty when Crowley was eight years old.[1] He attended Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, New Jersey, graduating with the class of 1985.[2] Crowley attended the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland from 1986-1987. He went on to earn a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. He entered the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1989 and married his wife Aileen in 1990. After receiving his J.D. degree from Notre Dame in 1992, he worked as a litigation associate in the Health Care Practice Group of the Indianapolis-based law firm of Bingham Summers Welsh & Spilman. He went on to receive an M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School in 1997 and then worked for a management consulting firm in San Francisco.[3][4]


In 1998, two of Crowley's children, Megan and Patrick, were diagnosed with a severe neuromuscular disorder, Glycogen storage disease type II, also called Pompe's disease. In the face of the children's deteriorating health, the family moved to Princeton, New Jersey to be close to doctors specializing in the disease.[5] Crowley worked at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he held a number of management positions. Frustrated with the slow pace of research on Pompe's disease, Crowley left Bristol-Myers Squibb in March 2000, and took a position as CEO of Novazyme Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology research company located in Oklahoma City founded by Dr.William Canfield, that was conducting research on a new experimental treatment for the disease.[6]

Crowley later described himself in a magazine profile as "much better suited to the entrepreneurial experience."[7] In 2001, Novazyme was acquired by Genzyme Corporation, then the world's third largest biotechnology company,[3] under Crowley's initiative. Crowley was in charge of Genzyme's global Pompe program, the largest R&D effort in the company’s history, from September 2001 until December 2002. Genzyme's work eventually bore fruit and in January 2003, Megan and Patrick Crowley received the enzyme replacement therapy for Pompe disease developed by Genzyme. Crowley credits the experimental trial with saving his children's lives.[3] The acquisition of Novazyme by Genzyme, and Crowley's fight to cure Pompe's Disease, was documented in the Harvard Business School Case Study, Novazyme: A Father's Love.[8]

Crowley went on to become President and CEO of Orexigen Therapeutics in 2003. In January 2005, he was named the President and CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, based in Cranbury, New Jersey.[9] He also serves in the United States Navy Reserve as an intelligence officer. He completed a six-month tour of active duty at the Center for Naval Intelligence in Virginia in 2007.[10] He is currently assigned to a Navy Reserve unit at the United States Special Operations Command.

Crowley is a member of the 2009 class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute.[11]

Awards and honors

Crowley was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science from Neumann University in Aston, Pennsylvania where he also delivered the commencement address in 2009. In 2010, he delivered the commencement address at Penn State University, Lehigh Valley. He is a Henry Crown fellow of the Aspen Institute. He has received numerous awards and recognitions for his business leadership and philanthropic efforts, including: New Jersey Biotechnology Industry Organization’s 2011 “Dr. Sol J. Barer Award for Vision, Innovation and Leadership”; the 2009 Make A Wish Foundation of New Jersey’s “Humanitarian of the Year”; the “2007 E&Y New Jersey Entrepreneur of the Year”.

Books and movie

Crowley was profiled in The Wall Street Journal by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Geeta Anand.[12] Anand expanded the profile of Crowley into a book published in 2006, The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million – And Bucked the Medical Establishment – In a Quest to Save His Children (ISBN 978-0060734398).[13]

Harrison Ford and Double Feature films optioned the rights to produce a film inspired by Anand’s book and the Crowley family.[14] In April 2009, CBS Films began filming this major motion picture about the Crowley family's quest to save their children's lives. The film, titled Extraordinary Measures[15][16] was released nationwide on January 22, 2010. Directed by Tom Vaughan, Extraordinary Measures stars Brendan Fraser as John Crowley and Keri Russell as Aileen Crowley, and also executive producer Harrison Ford as "Dr. Robert Stonehill" who is a composite character based primarily on Dr. William Canfield and inspired as well by other doctors Crowley worked with.[17]

Crowley has also written a personal memoir entitled Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope and Joy, coauthored with Ken Kurson. It was published by New Market Press in January 2010 to coincide with the release of Extraordinary Measures.[18]


In the spring of 2008, Crowley was frequently mentioned as a potential candidate for the Republican nomination for United States Senate in New Jersey to oppose incumbent Democrat Frank Lautenberg. Crowley also served from 2008-2009 as the Honorary Chairman of Building the New Majority, a Continuing Political Committee (the New Jersey state version of a Political Action Committee) that seeks " identify, develop and empower local candidates from township committee to the state legislature".[19]

He has been involved in championing numerous public policy causes, most notably in the rare disease and health care space. On July 22, he spoke before several hundred Congressional staffers in the Cannon House Caucus Room on the subject of biotechnology medicines and the protection of patient safety. In July 2010, he testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions about the state of pediatric rare diseases research. He is widely credited with leading the effort in 2010 to form the bi-partisan Congressional Caucus on Rare Diseases in Washington, DC.

On April 19, 2011 Rollcall reported that Crowley was leaving his CEO position and was considered a possible Republican candidate against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in 2012.[20] In the end, he chose to not run for the seat.

On June 3, 2013, Senator Frank Lautenberg passed away, meaning that Governor Chris Christie possessed the ability to appoint a replacement. Crowley was mentioned as a potential replacement, along with Tom Kean, Sr., Tom Kean, Jr., Kim Guadagno, Jon Bramnick, and Joe Kyrillos.[21]

Charitable and philanthropic work

John and Aileen Crowley have also launched a website, [Crowley Family 5, where people interested in the Crowley Family or Pompe Disease can follow the family's activities. Crowley is active in a number of social service and philanthropic efforts. He serves on the National Board of the Make A Wish Foundation of America as well as the Board of Directors of the Saint Peter’s University Health Care System.


  1. Secher, Benjamin. "Extraordinary Measures - John Crowley interview: When John Crowley learnt that two of his children had a rare, terminal disease, rather than accept the apparently inevitable he embarked on a race against time to discover a cure. Now his extraordinary story has been made into a film.", The Daily Telegraph, February 25, 2010. Accessed February 17, 2011. "John Crowley was born into a close-knit Irish Catholic family in Englewood, New Jersey, in 1967. Shortly before his eighth birthday his father, a policeman, died on duty after a faulty exhaust pipe caused his patrol car to fill with carbon monoxide."
  2. Rispoli, Michael. "Republican may make Senate bid, after all", Asbury Park Press, April 4, 2008. Accessed February 17, 2011. "Unanue and Crowley went to high school together at Bergen Catholic in Oradell."
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Crowley, John. "To Save the Children". Notre Dame Lawyer, Spring 2007. Accessed April 4, 2008.
  4. Amicus Therapeutics, Inc. Executive Profile, BusinessWeek. Accessed April 4, 2008.
  5. Edelstein, Jeff. "LOOK WHO'S TALKING: John Crowley, dad, entrepreneur, and subject of the upcoming film Extraordinary Measures", The Trentonian, January 11, 2010. Accessed February 17, 2011. "Princeton’s Crowley family, from left, Megan, Aileen, John, Patrick, and John Jr.John Crowley, a Princeton Township resident, is the father of two children with Pompe disease."
  6. "John Crowley On The Today Show 2001"., September, 2001. Accessed June 16, 2008.
  7. "Journey of the Heart"., January, 2009. Accessed April 8, 2009.
  8. "A Father's Love: Novazyme Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "., October, 2002. Accessed June 14, 2011.
  9. Senior Management Team, Amicus Therapeutics. Accessed April 4, 2008.
  10. "Crusading dad John Crowley may run for U.S. Senate". The Star-Ledger, March 28, 2008. Accessed April 4, 2008.
  11. "2009 Class of Henry Crown Fellows", The Aspen Institute. Accessed September 12, 2011.
  12. Anand, Geeta. "For His Sick Kids, a Father Struggled to Develop a Cure". The Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2003. Accessed April 4, 2008.
  13. "Taking Matters Into His Own Hands". Notre Dame Magazine, Spring 2007. Accessed November 28, 2011.
  14. "Crowley Lures Harrison Ford To CBS"., June 9, 2008. Accessed June 16, 2008.
  15. "Extraordinary Measures"., Inc.. Retrieved 2009-09-29. 
  16. "News and Culture: Brenden Fraser’s Untitled Crowley Project Now Has (Another) Terrible Title". Template:Dead linkWillamette Week. September 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-29. 
  17. "The Successful Effort to Develop Myozyme for Pompe Disease at Genzyme FAQs"Template:Dead link
  18. "An 'Extraordinary' welcome - Fans crowd aisles for 'Chasing Miracles' author". The Times (Trenton). 2010-01-24. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  19. "Building the New Majority website. Accessed June 28, 2008.
  20. Cooper, Kent (2011-04-19). "John Crowley Potentially Eyeing New Jersey Senate Bid Vs. Menendez : Roll Call Politics". Retrieved 2013-04-12. 
  21. Trygstad, Kyle (June 3, 2013). "Christie Holds Keys to Lautenberg Succession". Roll Call. Retrieved June 4, 2013. 

External links

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