Spring 2012: Robert Pritzker, in Memorium

By Robert Rosen

Have you ever had a conversation, a small moment, where you sensed something important was about to happen? When that moment went on to signify the beginning of something new and meaningful in your life? It happened when many of us received our diagnosis, but it also happened to me after a brief conversation with Bob Pritzker over 10 years ago.

In the wake of my own diagnosis of PV and my frustration with the low levels of MPN research in American medical labs, I was truggling to channel my energy into something productive. I had heard accidentally that Bob Pritzker, whom I knew causally from business, had recently also been diagnosed.

In need of a strategic and financial partner to enact the plan, I called Bob and re-introduced myself. “Bob,” I said, “I was recently diagnosed with Polycythemia Vera.” His response, “I know something about that, why don’t you come over and talk?” 

That was it, the brief moment that opened the door. 

We met at Bob’s office, I explained the outline of the plan, and Bob said, “Well, at least we won’t do any harm, we might save some lives, and the lives we save might even be our own.” 

Bob became a founding board member, together with Woody Woodruff and Joyce Niblack, and the MPD Foundation was born. 

Bob died last October at 85 from Parkinson’s, not from PV. Those of us who were privileged to sit in board meetings and committee meetings with him will not easily forget his quiet demeanor, delightful sense of humor, and unflagging support of the MPD Foundation, the forerunner of today’s MPN Research Foundation. 

For years he hosted board meetings in his cozy conference room, plying us with sandwiches and cookies, and offering quiet support for our work. His own entrepreneurial experience with medical device companies helped us understand that scientific progress would not happen overnight, and he agreed with our thoughtful approach to funding research and the ever growing members of our board of directors. Robert Pritzker was known worldwide in numerous financial and industrial sectors, but to us he was Bob, always there, always appreciated, always loved.

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