Back when she was chief academic officer at Mass General Brigham, Anne Klibanski saw firsthand the importance of medical research and how it both helped patients and lifted the region’s economy.
Now, as MGB’s chief executive, Klibanski is trying to convince the public. She wants to change the general narrative around MGB, long criticized for its market clout and prices. Klibanski instead wants to emphasize a different aspect: the life-saving research happening at the group’s flagship hospitals, MGH and Brigham and Women’s. And that research, she might add, doesn’t come cheap.
Toward that end, Klibanski commissioned AngelouEconomics to study the economic impact the giant nonprofit that she leads has in Massachusetts, and its research spending in particular. Among the stats cited in the newly released report: MGB received $1 billion from the National Institutes of Health in 2022, nearly one-third of all NIH funding that came into the state. Separately, the system generated $2.2 billion in research revenues in 2022 from patents and licenses, an 8 percent increase from the prior year. Overall MGB is the largest hospital-based research system in the United States, with an annual research budget that exceeds $2 billion. The report also underscores how central MGB is to Greater Boston’s biotech sector.
Along those lines, Klibanski shared the stage with Bank of America chief executive Brian Moynihan and MGB board member Jonathan Kraft at the World Medical Innovation Forum on Monday. The three-day conference, which is drawing about 1,000 people to the Westin hotel in the Seaport, was started by MGB (then-Partners HealthCare) and Bank of America in 2014. This year, the list of outside executives at the conference includes Biogen boss Chris Viehbacher and Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla. From state government, Governor Maura Healey and her health care and economic development secretaries, Kate Walsh and Yvonne Hao, are on the agenda. Chris Coburn, MGB’s chief innovation officer, said there’s a particular focus this year on breakthrough technologies in oncology, neuroscience, and immunology.
Coburn said he had been trying to get MGB management to study the group’s research impact for years. Klibanski, he said, embraced the idea after she became chief executive in 2019 although it took longer than expected to get the report going.
One reason for the timing now, Klibanksi said, is the arrival of new leadership in key state government roles — from the governor’s office to the attorney general to the Health Policy Commission.
“We have a lot of new people,” Klibanski said. “We need to work collaboratively and collectively with the Legislature to create a new vision and a new blueprint [for health care] in this state . . . We need a new way of thinking.”
Klibanski is hinting at the clear frustration among MGB leaders that the group has been blocked from adding more suburban outpatient care centers, partly to provide primary care and behavioral health services. She argues those ancillary facilities would help bring down health care costs by shifting patients out of ERs and allowing the pricier Boston hospitals to focus more on research and the toughest-to-treat cases.
“Massachusetts has been viewed as the epicenter of biotechnology,” Klibanksi said. “It’s time to lean into that and understand how critical academic medical centers, including MGB, and our universities are to that ecosystem. We have to support all of that to maintain our competitive advantage.”
For National Grid’s new top lobbyist, a sign from above
Maybe it was a sign from God, or from Corita Kent’s spirit.
In late April, Boston 25 News posted a photo on Twitter of a rainbow landing on top of National Grid’s liquefied natural gas tank in Dorchester, the one featuring Kent’s famous colorful design. That same day, General Electric lobbyist Jim McGaugh was sending back an accepted job offer electronically to the British utility.
Late last week, word was out: McGaugh had joined National Grid as its US head of corporate affairs, after 11 years at GE, most recently as the Boston company’s head of US state government affairs. At National Grid, McGaugh will focus on policies in the two states where the British utility currently does business, New York and Massachusetts, as well as federal policy work. He’ll report to National Grid chief strategy officer Ben Wilson, who said McGaugh will bring a wealth of knowledge and insights to the team as the company makes “real and lasting changes in the way energy is delivered.” McGaugh will be based at National Grid’s downtown Boston office, at One Beacon St.
“He was a tremendous asset for GE and I think he’s going to be the same thing for National Grid,” said Ann Klee, a former GE executive who worked closely with McGaugh on everything from environmental issues to the company’s move to Boston from Connecticut. “He brings a deep understanding of how government works and at the same time, the world of business and finance.”
For McGaugh, the photo on Twitter was particularly poignant, given that he grew up in Dorchester not far from the tank site. He said he’s excited about the opportunity to help lead National Grid in the region’s broader clean-energy transition.
“There is no better place to be for the rest of my career,” McGaugh said. “This is going to be a generational moment.”
Not exactly a pot of gold, but maybe something more valuable.
Business leaders aim to clean up unemployment mess
The state’s biggest chambers of commerce banded together a few months ago to collectively tackle broad policy problems that come their way. It didn’t take long before they faced their first big one: a $2.5 billion error in the state’s unemployment insurance system left over from the Baker administration, in which federal funds were incorrectly used to pay unemployment claims during the peak of the pandemic. So the business groups rallied last week to make a statement: Don’t fix this mistake on the backs of businesses.
The chambers issued a statement saying the Tax Foundation ranked the state’s employer-funded UI system the “worst in the nation,” even before recent revelations of fraudulent claims and errors. Now, comes this $2.5 billion mistake. State officials hope the US Department of Labor forgives some or all of it. Regardless of the resolution, the chambers told state labor Secretary Lauren Jones that the system needs a big overhaul.
Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jim Rooney said the chambers found a sympathetic audience with Jones, who worked at the Massachusetts Business Roundtable before Governor Maura Healey picked her to run the state’s labor agencies.
“Jones did say she would like to work with us and others around the systemic issues,” Rooney said. “[But] she’s got a patient on the operating table she’s got to fix before we redesign the operating room.”
‘Super Mario’ gets his day at MIT
Not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes, they wear business suits.
That’s the bottom-line takeaway from the event held at MIT last week to laud Italian economist and politician Mario Draghi — aka “Super Mario.”
Retired MFS Investment Management executive Bob Pozen, who teaches at the MIT Sloan School of Management, presented Draghi with the Miriam Pozen Prize. He was joined by Sloan dean David Schmittlein and MIT professors Deborah Lucas and James Poterba. Pozen sponsors the $200,000 prize, which recognizes outstanding financial policy research or practice, in honor of his mom; she lived to be 102 and was still beating him at Scrabble in her 90s.
Both Pozen and Poterba referenced the “Super Mario” thing in their remarks. The moniker apparently dates back to a speech in 2012 that Draghi — who earned a PhD at MIT — gave while leading the European Central Bank amidst a sweeping debt crisis in Europe.
“He famously calmed markets just by saying the ECB is ready to do ‘whatever it takes” to preserve the euro — and he didn’t actually have to do anything,” Pozen said. “Just saying that was enough to calm the markets, and earned him the reputation and the nickname as Super Mario.”