Years ago, a top chemical biologist pondered ditching his cancer research to take a more lucrative commission growing healthier apples. Michael Milken stopped him.
“I told him we could probably eat the same apples for the next 20 years and be OK, but we wouldn’t be OK if he didn’t continue his potential groundbreaking work,” Milken, 76, said. “Then we funded him.”
Driven by a family history of disease and his own experience with prostate cancer, Milken, the onetime junk-bond wizard whose spectacular downfall on securities charges led to a 22-month prison term in the 1990s, has spent the last three decades trying to advance medical science so that people “can find cures to life-threatening diseases within their own lifetimes.”
In “Faster Cures,” a book that is part memoir and part medical history, the financier-turned-philanthropist argues for applying business principles to foster quicker medical breakthroughs: more collaboration and information-sharing among researchers, a more streamlined path through government regulations, and more public and private funding to keep the best and brightest working in the field. The book was written with Geoffrey Evans Moore, a longtime associate of Milken’s.
Milken, whose net worth is estimated at $6 billion, has donated $1.2 billion to medical research and public health causes and raised another $1 billion for them from donors, according to a spokesperson. Much of that money is distributed through the Santa Monica-based Milken Institute, which funds organizations around the world that support research and education.
This interview has been edited fo …
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