Yesterday Sal DiMasi, the Speaker of the Massachusetts House, announced a new version of the historic $1 billion life sciences bill. While I’m not yet qualified to comment on all the specific details of this important bill, which holds the potential to cement the state’s economic future, I can salute the House leadership for getting one personal detail right.
As Rep. Daniel Bosley, the chairman of the economic development committee, outlined the details of the bill, he stopped to talk about the plans for capital investment to beef up the state’s research infrastructure. Bosley mentioned some $90 million dollars for a research center at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, a facility, Bosley said as he motioned to his left, “we are calling the Albie Sherman — the Albert Sherman Advanced Therapeutic Center.”
Readers of Gitell.com are familiar with Albert Sherman of whom I wrote the following last year: “a great Jew, a great Bostonian, and a great man, Albert Sherman. Albie’s official job is vice chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, but his influence goes far beyond that post. (Although, it can be fairly stated, as UMass Medical School’s Chancellor Aaron Lazare did yesterday, that Albie’s commitment to the school helped contribute to its winning a Nobel Prize in 2006.) He is a confidante, fixer, and strategist for the powerful and politically active. A graduate of Boston English High School and a pharmacist by training and education, he has relationships that transcend the decades.” I’ve known Sherman since he worked across the hall at the Doctor’s Office Building from my mother at Boston University Medical School. His son Matthew, the impresario behind Hollywood’s Matt Sherman Management, is one of my best friends.
DiMasi added to the commentary about Sherman, noting that he wasn’t just known locally but around the world. He recalled walking down the streets of Jerusalam with Sherman as numerous bystanders came up to him to say hello.UMass President Jack Wilson said getting to know Sherman was an important step in helping him adjusted to his role when he took the job. “I was told he taught the former speaker how to ride a bicycle,” Wilson said referring to Sherman’s relationship with Tom Finneran. Then he put Sherman’s job into perspective. The vision to build a life science center at UMass’s Worcester campus “would have gone nowhere without someone to translate it. That person was Albie Sherman.”
The recognition comes at an important moment for the Sherman family. Sherman is awaiting a kidney transplant.
Someday in the future, an important discovery that will help save lives — maybe even somebody with kidney disease — will be made at the UMass Medical Center. I found it, the scientist might say, in my lab in Sherman. The researcher might not be aware of the tireless advocate and passionate UMass supporter who helped the research building come to be. But one of those people will be the indomitable Albie Sherman.