Trustee Frank Baldino Jr.
At age 12, while his friends were receiving bicycles as gifts, Frank Baldino Jr.’s parents gave him a microscope.
At age 32, when most of his peer Ph.D.s in pharmacology were engaged in teaching or research, Baldino purchased an introduction to accounting textbook.
“I always knew I would do something in science, but I had no idea I would be a businessman,” recalled the founder and CEO of Cephalon, Inc. With more than 2,000 employees in 14 countries and $1 billion in annual sales, Baldino sits atop one of the most successful biotech companies in the world. That accounting textbook still sits in his West Chester office.
When Baldino was a biology major at Muhlenberg College, older fraternity brothers who enrolled in the School of Medicine returned to the Allentown campus with exciting stories about their graduate education, including praise for professor Ronald Tuma, who today is chairman of physiology.
Baldino decided to study for a Ph.D. in pharmacology at Temple and then pursued postdoctoral study at the University of Pennsylvania and at Rutgers University before joining DuPont as a senior research biologist in 1982.
Five years later, convinced that neuroscience was poised to move in new directions, Baldino purchased that accounting book and started Cephalon on his own. In 1988, he hired his first two employees.
“Ignorance is bliss,” Baldino said of the startup phase. “You don’t know how hard it is; you don’t know what could go wrong. Goals are set weekly and you’re wondering, ‘Can I survive another six months?’”
Baldino attributes much of his success to “the strong education” he received at Temple.
“There are a lot of role models at Temple,” Baldino said, citing in particular his mentor, pharmacology professor Martin Adler, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Research.
“He’s an academic, but he’s an entrepreneur,” Baldino said of Adler. “He was always well-funded. That was a real motivating factor for a guy like me. If you want it bad enough and you work hard enough, you can get it.”
Why did he accept Temple’s invitations to join the Board of Trustees and the advisory board at the School of Medicine? “Because when visionary leaders like board Chairman Howard Gittis and Medical School Dean John Daly ask you to help, you do it just to be associated with them,” Baldino replied. “Howard works nonstop for Temple, and the talent that John has attracted to the Med School is remarkable.”
Plus, “It’s time for me to give something back. We have to increase the level of philanthropy coming into the University. Many people have been educated here, patients have been helped here. They should step up and give something back.”
One of Baldino’s aspirations is that Temple act as a catalyst for cooperation among the incredible array of medical institutions in Philadelphia. “Philadelphia could be a formidable medical enterprise on the world stage,” he said.
Cephalon already occupies space on that world stage. Baldino is most proud of the firm’s development of Provigil, the first and only wake-promoting agent that improves wakefulness in patients with certain sleep disorders.
“How many people get an opportunity to say, ‘I was the first to do something really big?’” Baldino asked.
- By Mark Eyerly