WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Jim Greenwood, a Republican from Pennsylvania, retired from Congress Thursday to accept the position as president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
Greenwood, who has represented the Eighth District of Pennsylvania in the House since 1993, will replace BIO's current president, Carl Feldbaum, who announced his retirement in February. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 3, 2004.)
In a press conference at his home in Erwinna, Pa., Thursday afternoon, Greenwood confirmed rumors that he'll serve out his term in the House and join BIO Jan. 5.
Later in the day, Greenwood told BioWorld Today he would not have been tempted to take a trade association position unless it was something he loved as much as he loved serving in Congress.
The decision to hire Greenwood follows an intensive search by BIO's board of directors, said Richard Pops, BIO chairman and CEO of Alkermes Inc., of Cambridge, Mass.
Greenwood surfaced as the top candidate for a number of reasons, Pops told BioWorld Today. "He has a very strong sense of the good that biotechnology can bring to people. I think Carl infused the job with so much of that truly heartfelt passion that we really wanted to make sure the next leader shared the vision that we all share, and that is that what we are doing is really beneficial to people."
Indeed, Greenwood referred to his transition to BIO as the perfect marriage. "I have been a passionate advocate for issues like stem cell research, somatic-cell nuclear transfer, the advancement of biologics and for health care, in general."
While sitting on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and serving as chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Greenwood was involved in many issues familiar to the industry, including the investigation of New York-based ImClone Systems Inc. and its former CEO, Sam Waksal. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 11, 2002.)
As for an insight into his views, Greenwood, along with Peter Deutsch (D-Fla.), in March 2003 introduced legislation that would have allowed therapeutic cloning, while banning human cloning. The measure failed in a 231-174 vote. (See BioWorld Today, March 3, 2003.)
Nevertheless, after serving 12 years in the House and 12 years in the Pennsylvania legislature, Greenwood said he understands the processes involved in public policy and can communicate with decision makers as well as with the public on national and international levels.
That is a skill dear to BIO, Pops said, adding that Greenwood has insider knowledge of how to effect change in Washington. "As BIO increases in stature and visibility as more companies enter late-stage development, it has become clear that we need to increase our presence in Washington," he said.
As a policymaker during most of his career, Greenwood said he'll bring diplomatic, leadership and management skills to BIO.
Greenwood has resigned his position as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
Outside of health care, Greenwood has been a leader in education and juvenile justice issues, BIO said in a prepared statement. He also has authored several pieces of legislation to ensure that Americans have access to the best health care in the world, including the Help Efficient, Affordable, Low Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act, to provide reasonable limits on non-economic damages in medical liability lawsuits to preserve patients' access to health care, the statement said.
Greenwood has been active on environmental issues and has worked to increase communication among leaders to address international environmental issues, serving as president of Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE) International. He also is a founder and co-chair of the House Oceans Caucus.
When he assumes the role as BIO's president, Greenwood will be running an organization that employs nearly 100 people with a budget of $40 million a year.
When asked to discuss his salary at BIO, Greenwood, 53, chuckled and said, "It's a little less than Carl's." In 2003, Feldbaum's total compensation package was $870,000.
On announcing his retirement in February, Feldbaum, who became BIO's first president in 1993, remembered starting the organization with 16 people and an annual budget of $1.7 million.
During his years as president, Feldbaum said BIO created a single political voice with a reasonably strong presence, and, for its companies, the organization helped bring together potential investors and partners in a neutral setting for business negotiations.
Feldbaum plans to move to Idaho when his retirement is official.