1987—Phase V Technologies
As the Christmas letter says, M/A-Com Linkabit closed down its Lexington office and laid me off. This summer, for the second time, we faced the scrambling anxiety of unemployment. I’ll spare you any account of the associated pain and just remark that we managed, with a lot of help1 to escape starvation, eviction, or any of the other substantial ill effects that can arise in that kind of situation.
That stress ended when Gordon Williams brought Marcia Testa and me together at Jimmy’s in Arlington for dinner. Where I learned that they and Norm Hollenberg were founding a new consulting company to sell quality-of-life (QOL) research to pharmaceutical companies. Marcia would be the president and owner, and Gordon and Norm, with their large reputations and extensive contacts in the industry, would be principal consultants.2 The three of them had been co-authors of a ground-breaking QOL study3 in 1986, and that work had generated much interest, particularly among drug companies that would have the resources to sponsor more along the same lines. Gordon
Dr Gordon H Williams
Marcia.jpgDr Marcia A Testa Before dinner was over, Marcia4 had offered me a position as the new company’s founding Director of Research. And I had accepted, with alacrity.
1It was Providential, in particular, that the kids and I had been volunteering for years to drive the welfare truck: we knew the system in principle and in practice and felt no compunction about accepting help, now that we needed it.
2Their contractual obligations to Harvard and to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital precluded any ownership rôle for them.
3Croog SH, Levine S, Testa MT, et al. The effects of antihypertensive therapy on quality of life. N Engl J Med.1986;314:1657-1654.
4Turns out Marcia had already heard of me. Back at Abt Associates, I had written SampleCalc: a piece of software for the Apple ][, based on old friend and consultant Jacob Cohen’s Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences, with which researchers could determine how large a sample their studies would require. Clark Abt eventually transferred ownership of this product to me, and I actually earned a small amount of money from its sale. Marcia, as director of a statistics lab at the University of Connecticut, had had, used, and enjoyed a pirated copy, which displayed my name, each time she used it.
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