Ed Krapels has spent decades working in the energy industry. Now, in his 60s, he’s also taking on a new challenge: investing in a fledgling biotech firm.
For Krapels, chief executive of the power line developer Anbaric, this one is personal.
His brother Peter died at age 45 from a rare genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. That prompted Krapels to get tested. He discovered he had it, as well. The disease has caused emphysema, gradually destroying his lungs from the bottom up. But with regular treatments, he’s able to stay active and run his Wakefield firm, which is behind several major power line proposals in the Northeast.
Krapels just invested $500,000 in a new biotech called Apic Bio that’s being spun out of the University of Massachusetts — with the help of an $11 million grant from the National Institutes of Health — to commercialize a new kind of treatment for his disease.
The Alpha-1 Project, a for-profit affiliate of the Alpha-1 Foundation, has also invested $500,000 in the biotech, which is being led by president John Reilly.
Krapels believes gene therapies, including those being pursued through Apic Bio, could be crucial to treating diseases like his. He says patients can be more patient, so to speak, than venture capitalists, who want to see a quicker return.
In Apic Bio’s case, the firm will use technology incubated at UMass Medical School, under the guidance of dean Terence Flotte and professor Chris Mueller, that treats the lungs and liver concurrently. The goal: making a treatment that is more like a cure for alpha-1 and less like a palliative medicine.
To keep his disease at bay, Krapels receives weekly protein infusions, an expensive and arduous process. He recognizes a cure for alpha-1 may come too late for his personal benefit. But he’s hoping a new generation of patients won’t have to go through what his family has endured.
Making the pitch for St. Louis pizza
Boston Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum may not yet have the local endorsement cred of, say, Rob Gronkowski or Dustin Pedroia. But back home in St. Louis, he just inked a deal to pitch that city’s unique style of pizza.
Tatum has signed on as a spokesman for Imo’s, a St. Louis pizza chain that is the leading purveyor of the local style.
It’s a rare endorsement pact for an out-of-town athlete. He’ll appear in both print and TV ads, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Imo’s will offer special deals on Tatum’s favorite style: bacon, pepperoni, and green peppers.
So what, you may ask, is St. Louis-style pizza?
Envision a hard, thin, cracker of a crust, topped with a sweet tomato sauce and a gooey processed cheese known as Provel, cut into squares. Sound yummy? It is to Tatum, a St. Louis native and high school hoops star who has proudly proclaimed his love for Imo’s on social media, in interviews, and even live on his way to the draft in June the night he was picked third in the draft by the Celtics.
He told NBA TV that it’s “the best pizza you’ll ever have in your life.”
No word on whether Tatum has sampled a slice at Santarpio’s.
Common message, from corporate
Tens of thousands of protesters headed to Boston Common Saturday to declare that Boston was no place for hate. By the time of the event, some local business leaders had also spoken out to their employees about free speech and racism.
The missives from executives started circulating internally after President Trump’s press conference in New York, during which he praised some marchers on both sides in Charlottesville, Va.
Karen Kaplan, chief executive of the ad agency Hill Holiday, told employees “when the line has been crossed between right and wrong, between discourse and hatred, we must stand up.” Joseph Ryan, chief executive of the Brown Rudnick law firm, wrote to employees saying “to respect free speech does not mean that all views are valid or worthy of consideration.”
And the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce‘s chief executive, Jim Rooney, sent out a statement saying the chamber was lending its voice to “stand united against racism.”
Then there was the long note new General Electric chief executive John Flannery sent to employees Wednesday, explaining why his predecessor, Jeff Immelt, had decided to leave the president’s manufacturing advisory council that day. Immelt remains GE’s chairman until the end of the year.
The two “reached out to and received valuable input from many leaders inside and outside the company,” Flannery wrote.
They also had discussions with other corporate executives about disbanding the manufacturing council and another presidential advisory council, the Strategic and Policy Forum. Both ended up disbanding.
In many world events, Flannery wrote, there can be shades of gray, but that wasn’t the case in Charlottesville, where white supremacist views were on display.
“GE operates in 180 countries and these countries have different challenges and viewpoints, some of which do not always align with our core values as a company,” Flannery wrote. “Sometimes it is necessary to take a stand in public.”
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