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Harvard’s Interim President Dr. Alan Garber Collected Millions From Big Pharma Boards While Working For School

(Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

James Lynch Investigative Reporter
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Harvard University’s Provost and Interim President Dr. Alan Garber has made millions from sitting on pharmaceutical company boards during his time with the school.

Garber made more than $2.7 million from board seats with pharmaceutical firms Exelixis, Inc. and Vertex Pharmaceuticals since becoming Harvard provost in 2011, the Harvard Crimson reported in 2019, citing company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Both firms confirmed to the outlet Garber received compensation without performing any additional duties beyond his board memberships.

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 29: People walk through the gate on Harvard Yard at the Harvard University campus on June 29, 2023 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that race-conscious admission policies used by Harvard and the University of North Carolina violate the Constitution, bringing an end to affirmative action in higher education. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

He joined Exelixis’ board in 2005 and received $2.3 million from the company, $1.6 of which came after he joined Harvard as provost and chief academic officer in 2011. From 2017-18, Garber made around $1.2 million from Vertex in the form of cash and stock options.

“The insights he has developed as an expert in health care policy and as an advisor to government agencies will provide our board important perspectives on the issues facing our company,” Vertex said of Garber at its June 2017 annual meeting, according to the Crimson.

Garber continues to sit on the Exelixis and Vertex corporate boards. The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Vertex’s market capitalization is roughly $105 billion and specializes in developing treatments for serious diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis, its website shows. Exelixis has a roughly $7 billion market capitalization and focuses on developing next generation cancer treatments, according to its website.

At Harvard, Garber supervises academics, faculty and research, international affairs and learning advances, according to his official bio. Garber is an economist and physician with professorships at Harvard’s medical school, public health school, arts and sciences faculty and Kennedy School of Government in addition to his provost role.

He was previously an economics and medicine professor at Stanford, where he earned his MD in 1983. He also received an economics PhD from Harvard after receiving his undergraduate degree from Harvard in 1976. His research focuses on improving healthcare delivery, particularly for elderly in situations where resources are limited.

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 05: Dr. Claudine Gay, President of Harvard University, testifies before the House Education and Workforce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building on December 05, 2023 in Washington, DC. The Committee held a hearing to investigate antisemitism on college campuses. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

He is assuming the role of Harvard’s interim president after former Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned Tuesday following numerous plagiarism accusations.

Gay attributed her resignation to “racial animus” and did not offer an apology for her alleged plagiarism throughout her academic career. (RELATED: Harvard President Accused Of Plagiarism Issues Corrections To Articles Involving ‘Quotation Marks And Citations’)

“We are also grateful to Alan M. Garber, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, who has served with distinction in that role for the past twelve years – and who has agreed to serve as Interim President until a new leader for Harvard is identified and takes office,” Harvard said in a statement mourning Gay’s resignation.

Harvard did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.