Joshua Boger: Founder, president, and CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals

| Boston Magazine |

Case Study: The Brain Power

IF YOU TALK ABOUT BUSINESS in Massachusetts, you’re increasingly talking about science, as well. If you talk about science, you’re also talking about academia. And if you talk about the interaction of these three things, you end up talking about one guy: Joshua Boger.

Boger holds outsize clout despite the fact that his Cambridge-based biotech firm isn’t nearly the size of Henri Termeer’s Genzyme or Jim Mullen’s Biogen Idec. That’s mainly because, unlike many of his peers — who feel that since they represent the future, politicians should come to them — he sees the value of involving himself deeply in Beacon Hill affairs. It was Boger, for instance, who took the lead in pushing Deval Patrick to take up his $1 billion life-sciences incentives package, doing so in a way that wisely recognized the broader benefits: The more jobs created, the more tax dollars for funding the governor’s many campaign promises.

The same MO informs Boger’s pull-enhancing extracurricular pursuits. He is the first biotech guy in nearly a decade to chair the board of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, and also chairs a national biotech trade organization. He sits on the board of fellows at Harvard Medical School, is a contributor to the Greater Boston Food Bank’s capital campaign, and last year flew to China with Patrick to drum up business for Bay State companies. As the man himself notes, "I don’t see boundaries all that clearly." Whether his industry counterparts become big civic players, too, depends on their ability to develop the same tendency. —Paul Kix

BRAINS AND BRAWN
How Harvard’s new president is proving the doubters wrong.

When she was picked for the job last year, detractors wondered whether an unassuming history scholar would have the chops to run the World’s Greatest University at a time of such upheaval. But Drew Gilpin Faust has proven a savvy operator. With Congress making noises about forcing schools with multibillion-dollar endowments to offset tuition costs for middle- and low-income students, Faust unveiled a program that allowed families making between $120,000 and $180,000 a year to pay 10 percent of their income, and families making under $120,000 to pay less, down to free tuition for those at $60,000 and below. The plan was only a minor improvement on the school’s former policy, but the timing permitted the normally rapacious Harvard to seem downright benevolent—even though, had Washington been dictating the terms, it would have been compelled to shell out considerably more. No fewer than seven colleges have since aped Faust’s move.