“How can I can make it better?” is a question Albert A. Marcotte, PhD, asked—and answered—throughout his life.
Starting in his youth growing up in Saquish, a small private settlement at the entrance to Plymouth Bay, the MIT-educated entrepreneur spent his life being highly inquisitive and inventive, figuring out ways to fix everything from boats to businesses.
He was ahead of his time in 1979 when he started Advanced Management Systems (AMS), a company dedicated to using computerized systems to guide and improve management decision-making. To this day, the world’s top banks, insurance companies, and brokerage firms use Marcotte’s tools and techniques to make their businesses run smarter.
In recent years while receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer at the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, he turned his problem-solving mind to making a lasting impact in medicine.
With an eye toward fighting a range of devastating diseases, Marcotte made a commitment of $10 million to Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) to create the Albert A. and Christine J. Marcotte Center for Medical Innovation at BWH, which will be named after Marcotte and his mother.
“While there were ‘small’ things that could be done to make me feel more comfortable during treatment, there was never any real hope for a total cure,” said Marcotte, who passed away on August 3, 2014, just one week shy of his 75th birthday. “I want others to have a chance at a cure and believe this gift can help the Brigham lead the charge in accelerating treatments and cures. It is my greatest hope others will be inspired to give as well.”
Marcotte set up this gift to be broad and flexible in scope, giving BWH President Betsy Nabel, MD, full discretion to fund research opportunities she deems most promising. In addition to his contribution of $10 million, he decided to give the residual of his estate to the hospital through his will.
“Al was a remarkable man in so many ways. His extraordinary gift will allow us to seize opportunities that align with our priorities, from recruiting sought-after researchers to funding research with great potential. Al has given us the flexibility to explore new approaches to the world’s toughest diseases, and I am enormously grateful.” -Betsy Nabel, MD, BWH President
Nabel is also thankful for the insightful discussions she has shared with Marcotte and the counsel he has offered on everything from business to gardening. Over the course of 16 months, the two treasured regular meetings together, where the conversation frequently turned to how to make the hospital better.
“One might say we had a meeting of the minds,” Marcotte noted. “In some ways, I feel like her mentor, in others I feel she is mine. I am inspired by her leadership and innovative ideas. I know Betsy is the right person to entrust with this gift, and I am confident she will honor my intent and make healthcare, and by extension the world, better.”
“He has broadened my perspective, and played a significant role in expanding my vision for the Brigham,” Nabel adds.
On top of his intellectual and financial gifts to BWH, Marcotte made a philanthropic commitment to BWH’s partner in cancer care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. By encouraging collaboration and innovation among the leaders of the two institutions, Marcotte has aimed to help many patients in the years to come.
“My gifts reflect how I have lived my life—both professionally and personally—with the goal of helping others elevate opportunities to improve the world around them,” Marcotte said. “It is my fondest wish that my contributions will lead to better treatments and ultimately a cure for future generations. Now that would be a legacy!”