This morning our dear friend and colleague whose wine escapades often fill this spot awoke to the rewards of retirement. My senior cancer research colleague, Erleichda, has just closed the book on 30 years with a single pharmaceutical company, unheard of in today’s climate of layoffs and jumping from one company to the next.
My friend began in this industry when it was still considered a noble pursuit and continued to be an ambassador for all that is good about pharmaceutical research & development, with his primary concern the welfare of those stricken with cancer and the cultivation of junior scientists who sought to join in his mission. Although I only came to know him during the last decade of his distinguished career, the man shared with me many lessons of how to live life, how to carry oneself as a scientist, and how to stand up for principle in the face of the harsh economic realities of today’s pharmaceutical industry.
What particularly resonated with me about this gentleman was his understanding and respect for the scientific pioneers who came before us but who are still with us. Long after their own institutions had cast aside these senior scientists who no longer contributed directly to “the bottom line,” Erleichda treated these mentors of his own with the reverence and respect they deserved – and earned.
His excitement and passion for this scientific life is obvious any time we meet. The first time he met PharmGirl, a breast oncologist who had just witnessed one of his own drugs work wonders in a patient of her own, he grabbed her by the hand and took her across the convention center to meet the chemist who had first synthesized this very drug (from a natural product, of course). Bringing together the bench chemist and the clinician to share stories of their joint battle against cancer was just one example of the enthusiasm he has for sharing this journey and making everyone feel included and valued, no matter what role they play.
And, obviously, his joie de’vivre comes across in every column he writes for these Friday Fermentable pages.
So, today, he begins a new chapter with his life partner, the intrepid Sweetpea, another behind-the-scenes benefactor to this blog and blogger. I understand there are now other overseas trips in store involving winetasting and hiking – we wish them well and look forward to learning of their travels.
To my dear friend and colleague, thank you for setting such a stellar example for me to emulate – as both a gentleman and a scientist.