John Crowley has stepped down as CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, the company he founded in 2002 to find a cure for a rare genetic disorder that affects two of his children, “to devote more time to interests related to public policy, civic service, and philanthropic endeavors,” according to a company statement released on April 18.
This new direction is broadly considered the foundation of a U.S. Senate campaign for 2012 in which Crowley, a Republican, would face Senator Bob Menendez. According to the company, Crowley will stay on as board chairman and advise Amicus on corporate strategy and the advancement of the company’s product development pipeline until October.
Matthew Patterson, the president and COO of Amicus, has been named acting CEO while the Amicus board looks for a full-time successor for Crowley.
According to the Star-Ledger, political pundits around the state assume Crowley’s future revolves around a Senate run, though he has not formally stated that he will seek such office. Crowley, who could not be reached for comment, was courted in 2008 as a challenger to Senator Frank Lautenberg but declined to run. A year later he was on the short list for a run at the governor’s office.
Republican organizations around the state wasted no time championing Crowley. Though he has never held public office his personal story has all the earmarks of an ideal candidacy. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy in 1986 and 1987, before transferring to Georgetown University to get his bachelor’s in foreign service. He has worked as an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserve. He married his high school sweetheart, Aileen, in 1990. He built two successful biotech companies and made himself a millionaire — meaning that he, like former Democratic Governor Jon Corzine, could self-finance a Senate run.
Crowley’s most compelling story involves his quest to cure Pompe disease, a condition that causes a deficiency in the enzyme that breaks down glycogen. Its buildup in the body causes extreme muscle weakness, and it affects his two youngest children, Megan and Patrick, who were diagnosed in 1998.
Crowley, who at the time was an executive at Genzyme, left his position to raise capital for Amicus. He raised $100 million and the story became the subject of a major book titled “The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million and Bucked the Medical Establishment In a Quest to Save His Children.” In 2010 the story was made into the movie “Extraordinary Measures,” starring Brendan Fraser as Crowley (U.S. 1, January 20, 2010).
Crowley also holds a J.D. from Notre Dame Law (1992) and an MBA from Harvard (1997).
Crowley’s successor at Amicus, Patterson, has spent 18 years in the field of rare disease drug development. He joined Amicus in 2004 as chief business officer and became COO two years later. He was named president in February.
Prior to Amicus Patterson worked in rare disease drug research, development, and commercialization for BioMarin Pharmaceutical and Genzyme Corporation. He earned his bachelor’s in biochemistry from Bowdoin College in 1993.
Amicus Therapeutics, 5 Cedar Brook Drive, Cedar Brook Corporate Center, Cranbury 08512; 609-662-2000; fax, 609-662-2001. Matthew Patterson, acting president and CEO. www.amicustherapeutics.com