#b#Good News from an NJ Transit Rider . . .#/b#
This past Sunday, November 8, I dashed to catch a 3:10 p.m. train from Princeton Junction bound for New York — I made it, barely. But as the train was pulling away, I realized that my bag was still on the platform. And I was on the train.
I informed the conductor, who called the Princeton Junction station on his phone, only to find out that the station had just closed at 3 p.m. The conductor caught one of the agents, who was still there, and suggested that he look for the bag and, if he found it, he would leave it in front of the locked door to the station.
I rode the train to New Brunswick, then turned around and caught the next train back to Princeton Junction. I arrived at 4 p.m., an hour after the station closed. My bag was nowhere to be seen. But then I peered into the closed station and saw it sitting there on the floor. Then I turned around. A man in a uniform was beside me, with a ring of keys in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other hand.
He was ticket agent Sean Malcolm, who had waited more than an hour past his quitting time to make sure I found my bag. He opened the door, retrieved the bag, and gave it to me. He also twice refused my offer to tip him, explaining that it was against the policy.
“What can I do?” I said.
“Well, write a letter,” he said.
This is that letter.
This was exemplary performance beyond the call of duty and I was extremely grateful. You should know about the performance of someone who reflects so well on New Jersey Transit and its employees.
#b#. . . And from the Biotech Summit#/b#
New Jersey’s preeminent life science trade organization — BioNJ — recently convened the third annual BioNJ CEO Summit (http://bit.ly/1MHzJLD). This event attracted more than 250 CEOs and life science senior executives. These life science leaders represented big pharma, start-up and mid-stage biotechs, diagnostics and personalized medicine companies, as well as medical device and medical technology companies.
Despite a perceived reputation of weak governmental and legislative support and high corporate taxes, we heard over and over again that New Jersey is an ideal location to start, build and nurture any life science organization. Many of the presenters, including Al Altomari, president and CEO of Agile Therapeutics, and Clive Meanwell, president and CEO of the Medicines Company, shared their personal stories on building their companies in New Jersey. The quality of talent, close geographic proximity to New York City — the world’s largest and richest financial center — and funding resources available (http://bionj.org/resources/funding-opportunities) were mentioned by many.
New Jersey features 14 of the world’s top 20 pharmaceutical, medical technology and diagnostics companies, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson. Further, New Jersey is home to nearly 400 biotechnology companies, including Amicus Therapeutics, Chromocell, Celgene, Soligenix, Vicus, Roka Biosciences and PTC Therapeutics. These companies provide a rich and diverse pipeline of innovative therapies and medicines designed to improve human life.
With the highest concentration of scientists and engineers in the world, as well as leading clinical research and contract manufacturing organizations, New Jersey boasts a collaborative network of technology incubators. Those focusing on the life sciences include the Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies, Burlington County College High Tech Center, and the Enterprise Development Center at NJIT.
Beyond the commercial life science leaders, New Jersey is also home to world-renowned research institutions, including Rutgers University, Princeton University, Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience, Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine (CABM), Biotechnology Center for Agriculture, and the Environment and the Center for Advanced Food Technology. Further, New Jersey showcases major healthcare foundations, such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and the Henry H. Kessler Foundation.
As a lifelong New Jersey resident, and a 25-year veteran in the pharmaceutical industry, I am excited about the future of life science, especially its future right here in New Jersey — the World’s Medicine Chest!
John F. Kouten
Kouten, the CEO of JFK Communications at 71 Tamarack Circle, has been a member of BIONJ for eight years. He serves on various BIONJ committees and has provided pro bono service to BIONJ on several video projects.