Boston Biotech Community Supports Area’s Homeless

Boston Biotech Community Supports Area’s Homeless
Pictured from left to right: John Rosenthal, Founder of Friends of Boston’s Homeless, Dr. George Church, keynote speaker, and Adam Semple, event organizer and Thermo Fisher Scientific employee.

Boston is known as a biotechnology hub and a nationwide leader for scientific innovation and research. While life science companies, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations understand the importance of scientific collaboration, the Boston scientific community recently came together for a different kind of collaboration: raising money and awareness for Boston’s homeless.

In an effort spearheaded by Thermo Fisher Scientific, more than 30 Boston area biotech and healthcare organizations joined forces to support the Friends of Boston’s Homeless (FOBH), which helps homeless individuals transition from the shelter to permanent housing. The event was held at Ned Devine’s Parris in Boston’s Faneuil Hall.

The inspiration for the event originated with Adam Semple, a Thermo Fisher account manager, who noticed a homeless man named Roy sitting near the entrance to Tufts Medical Center in Boston each time he visited the facility. Semple began to strike up conversations with him, and those conversations developed into a stronger relationship. Most importantly, Semple and several Thermo Fisher colleagues simply wanted to help Roy and other homeless individuals.

After making an initial donation to FOBH, Semple was inspired to go a step further. He began to wonder what would happen if he could bring together Thermo Fisher and other major life sciences organizations in the Boston area – even those that usually compete against each other – in support of the fight against homelessness.

Semple and his colleagues in Thermo Fisher’s Millennial Resource Group contacted representatives of GE Healthcare Life Sciences, Pfizer and the Broad Institute, among many other organizations and institutions, to rally support for a possible fundraising event. Their aggressive pitch to collaborate as one community paid off.

"Adam and the rest of the Thermo Fisher Scientific team that spearheaded the organizing of the FOBH event at Faneuil Hall are a wonderful example of what members of the biotech community can come together to do in greater Boston,” said Sarah Dykstra, Boston Postdoctoral Association (BPDA) Career Development Working Group Co-Chair.

The event featured a silent auction and live music provided by jazz musician Ralph Peterson and the Berklee Jazz ensemble, and included a keynote address by Harvard geneticist Dr. George Church. (The fundraiser was featured in the Boston Business Journal).

“I was nervous leading up to the event as it was the first one we had done with the biotech community and we had to pull it together in just four months,” said Jamie O'Neal O'Loughlin, development coordinator and special events director for FOBH. “It was incredible to see more than 400 people in the space enjoying themselves, networking, bidding on auction items and listening to influencers speak about homelessness. I've had a number of calls and emails from attendees of the event reaching out to me asking to volunteer, wanting to make donations and asking to join our fundraising efforts going forward. How amazing is that?”

“The fact that we managed to get that many biotech institutions who compete with each other, and all of these academics and hospitals, in a room together absolutely blew my mind,” said Semple. “I was really impressed seeing Thermo Fisher and many other biotech organizations mobilize in support of the event.”

With plans now in place to hold an annual fundraiser to support Boston’s homeless community, this event demonstrated the impact that one person – and one idea – can have to make a difference in the community.

To learn more about Friends of Boston’s Homeless and the people it is helping, please visit