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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Machiavellian Leadership

The reason we lose so many jobs and so much money in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals is because we do not fully understand the diseases we set out to make drugs against. Without the ability to follow through on our promises, we need a special kind of leadership.

"Because how one ought to live is so far removed from how one lives that he who lets go of what is done for that which one ought to do sooner learns ruin than his own preservation: because a man who might want to make a show of goodness in all things necessarily comes to ruin among so many who are not good. Because of this it is necessary for a prince, wanting to maintain himself, to learn how to be able to be not good and to use this and not use it according to necessity."

I once read, in "The Scientist, Magazine of the Life Sciences" that science is what scientists do. To take that logic out further, leading is what leaders do. Scientific leaders thus lead science. Here at the CCS we believe that they neither lead nor understand science. Without having read Machiavelli's "The Prince" they have come to the same conclusions:
"...a prince must not have any objective nor any thought, nor take up any art, other than the art of war and its ordering and discipline; because it is the only art that pertains to him who commands. And it is of such virtue that not only does it maintain those who were born princes, but many times makes men rise to that rank from private station; and conversely one sees that when princes have thought more of delicacies than of arms, they have lost their state."

The leaders will fight to keep their status. The battle between Baltimore/Imanish Kari against a lowly post-doc and a minor laboratory issue, demonstrates this fact. Why not retract the paper? The scientific community would not be served well to allow for the bad science that Baltimore and Imanishi Kari had published and became very well aware of. That wasn't their concern however. They needed Margot O'Toole to keep her mouth shut. She wouldn't. The three of them engaged in the art of war. A book was written about the war. No book was written about the paper and the reason it caused a war. The scientific research was, as Machiavelli was say, "a delicacy".

For a more recent example of biotech leadership, check this one out! A leader in biotechnology could be any leader. They all want the same thing. The spoils of war.

Anil Potti, Bharat Aggarwal, Silvia Bulfone-Paus, Dipak Das, to name a few famous "scientists" of late, have had setbacks in the Machiavellian leadership game. They know that this is part of the game however. Samuel D. Waksal (PhD, Immunobiology, Ohio State U.) of Imclone was caught cheating at a couple of endeavors. He was arrested in 2002 on insider trading charges. He pleaded guilty to charges of securities fraud, bank fraud, obstruction of justice, and perjury. In 2003 he pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and wire fraud for avoiding $1.2 million in sales taxes on $15 million in artwork. Waksal was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison and ordered to pay more than $4 million in fines and back taxes, all the maximum punishments allowable under law. He was released from custody in 2009.

He is currently the chairman and CEO of Kadmon Pharmaceuticals in New York City.

1 comment:

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