Robert Coughlin, head of the MassBio business group, resigns after 13 years


Robert Coughlin, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, will step down in early 2021 after more than 13 years leading the industry business group.

Coughlin, a former representative of the State of Dedham, announced the news Monday morning on the MassBio site.

“This decision was extremely difficult,” he wrote. “But I did it knowing that MassBio is well positioned to succeed in the years to come and that the organization will attract an incredible selection of applicants from diverse backgrounds and backgrounds to lead it into the future.”

MassBio was founded in 1985 as a non-profit organization focused on advancing the state’s life science industry.

Since Coughlin took the reins as CEO in 2007, Coughlin said MassBio has grown its membership base from about 400 companies to over 1,400. These companies have contributed to a 94% increase in business. employment in the industry over the past 15 years, or about 38,000 new jobs, he said.

Coughlin added that 18 of the 20 largest biopharmaceutical companies now have a physical presence in the state. Moderna and Pfizer, the pioneers in the deployment of a COVID-19 vaccine, have a strong presence in Massachusetts.

Chuck Wilson, chairman of the board of MassBio, said in a press release that Coughlin “has changed the model of what a state trade association is and what it can accomplish.”

Before joining MassBio, Coughlin served in the administration of former Governor Deval Patrick for seven months. His entry into the world of biotechnology was personal: his son, Bobby, was born 18 years ago with cystic fibrosis. Last year, Boston-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals gained approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a drug that can treat 90 percent of patients with the disease.

“I saw the power of the Massachusetts cluster with my own eyes,” Coughlin wrote. “Due to decades of work and billions of dollars invested by a Massachusetts company, a drug was recently approved that made my son healthier. Today I can say with confidence that he will outlive me. It wasn’t something I could have said a few years ago.

Several industry executives thanked Coughlin for his work at MassBio via Twitter on Monday, responding to his post about the upcoming departure.

Tim Murray, president of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, gave Coughlin credit for being a strong advocate for the life sciences and biologics manufacturing industry in central Massachusetts. Lexington-based Translate Bio also took to Twitter, wishing Coughlin “the best in [his] future efforts.

A MassBio board-level committee, chaired by Wilson, will work with an executive search firm to conduct a nationwide search for a new CEO.

In his farewell note, Coughlin said “there’s never a great time to leave” for a CEO.

“I will miss my colleagues, my interaction with members, my advocacy work at State House and Capitol Hill, and most importantly, I will miss leading an organization whose core mission is to grow the science industry. life, to add value to health care. system and improve the lives of patients, ”he wrote.

Anissa Gardizy can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @ anissagardizy8.

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