Art Levinson is the current Chairman of Apple. He was brought on to the board in 2000 during Job’s second act and was present for the introduction of the iPod, iTunes and iPhone.
Art Levinson is always introduced as the former CEO of Genentech but I didn’t know his story until I read the Herceptin story in Emperor of All Maladies. Turns out Levinson was trained by Nobel Michael Bishop of oncogene fame. In the late 80’s Levinson was leading a group pursuing treatment for breast cancer by doggedly tracking a gene called HER-2. Genentech’s executives turned away from cancer research after some high profile failures in the 80’s. This should have been the end of genentech’s role in HER-2 except for the leadership of Levinson. He dodged the bureaucracy, pursued resources and lead a small team to continue work on HER-2. The group produced Herceptin, one of the most important breakthroughs in chemotherapy in the molecular era in, a jaw-dropping, 3 years. Laureate
Reading that story I can see why Jobs would want him on the Apple board.
As we were gearing up for NephMadness Mealnie Hoenig mentioned that she loved working with the Nephmadness crew because they were “her people.” This resonated with me and has become my latest way of looking at the word. This particularly resonated with me when my college roommate introduced me to Public Broadcast Service.
There best song is “Go” which samples Gene Kranz dialog with his flight controllers during the Apollo 11 lunar lander landing. I love this because though I have heard the story of the Apollo mission a 100 times I had never thought of it from the perspective of the flight controllers.
This struck me as a great example of my people. While I never could imagine myself as Neil Armstrong, I could imagine me, and my ilk, being a flight controller in Houston. Which one would I be? flight SURGEON, of course.
Summary of the different flight controllers can be found here.
Transcript from the song:
Narrator (NASA Spokesman?) This is Apollo Control 102 hours into the flight of Apollo 11. It has grown quite quiet here at Mission Control A few moments ago Flight Director Gene Krantz requested that everyone sitdown and get prepared for the events that were coming and he closed with the remark “Good luck to all of you.” [Ed. not quite One small step for man; one giant leap for Mankind] 12 minutes now until ignition for powered descent. Everything still looking very good at this point Gene Krantz Okay all flight controllers, “Go” “No go” for powered descent.
CAPCOM we are go for powered descent [CAPCOM, capsule communicator, was an astronaut in Houston responsible for communicating with the mission astronauts. At the time of the landing it was Charlie Duke] We are off to a good start. Play it cool. Okay all flight controllers, I’m going around the horn RETRO? Go! FIDO? Go! GUIDANCE? Go! CONTROL? Go! Deltcom? Go! GNC? Go! EECOM? Go! SURGEON? Go!
Armstrong: Houston…ah…Tranquility base here. The Eagle has Landed.
Kranz: Okay keep the chatter down in this room. [The greatest moment in the history NASA and Kranz is focused on keeping his team on task]
CAPCOM: T1 standby for T1
Kranz: Stay or no Stay all flight controllers [Apparently it was possible to land on the moon but have something go wrong requiring an immediate return to orbit, so this was a check to see if they could proceed to the lunar surface mission]