Prominent Flatley Family Launches Boston Nonprofit for Cystic Fibrosis Drug Research

When a rare disease strikes one of their own, some families take it upon themselves to find a cure. Unsatisfied with treatment options for the genetic disorder cystic fibrosis, the Flatleys have become one of those families.

John Flatley, a Braintree, MA, real estate developer, is spearheading his family’s effort to find a cure for one of his family members and others with cystic fibrosis through a new nonprofit called CFRx. The nonprofit is being funded by the Flatley Foundation, which was founded by Flatley’s late father, Thomas Flatley, the legendary real estate tycoon and philanthropist.

The mission of CFRx is to discover a potential cure for cystic fibrosis, which causes life-threatening lung and digestive problems, John Flatley tells Xconomy. He says he doesn’t want to publicly identify which member of his family has the disease, to protect that person’s privacy. The nonprofit itself has operated under the radar since he launched it in November 2008 with the help of Richard Fitzpatrick, a former scientist from the vaunted Cambridge, MA-based biotech firm Genzyme.

The nonprofit’s operations reflect some of the shrewd business philosophies of Flatley’s father, John Flatley says. Thomas Flatley, whose personal wealth was estimated to be $1.3 billion by Forbes in 2005, was known for being involved in most all details of his real estate empire. John Flatley has applied some of the business lessons he learned from his father at his own real estate firm, John Flatley Company, and now at his drug-discovery nonprofit. Rather than rent expensive labs, he says, he’s built out his own labs with used equipment in the Schrafft Center building in Charlestown.

“The philosophy that I learned from my father is that when it’s your own money, you want to stay … Next Page »

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