PITTSFIELD -- Adeline Q. Perkins was inspired by her math and science courses at Taconic High School. And she honed her business acumen working at GE Plastics during and after college. Now, she's about to lead a company developing medicines to treat cancer.
Perkins says her experiences growing up in the city propelled her into a career in the thriving biotechnology industry, in which she is weeks away from heading a well-known, multimillion-dollar biopharmaceutical company that specializes in developing oncology and related medicines.
On Jan. 1, the 50-year-old Perkins, a 1977 Taconic graduate, will take the reins as president and CEO of Cambridge-based Infinity Pharmaceuticals, a publicly traded company that posted $13.8 million in third-quarter revenues this year.
"Discovering, developing and delivering drugs makes a difference in the lives of cancer patients," Perkins said Wednesday in a telephone interview.
"I'd do it as a hobby," she said. "It's great to do it as a profession."
Born and raised in Pittsfield, Perkins attended Sacred Heart, St. Mark and Crosby Middle schools.
At Taconic High, "I really liked taking math and science, which in turn led me to major in engineering," Perkins said.
While attending Villanova University, she put her chemical engineering major to work at GE Plastics during her summer vacations. After college, she joined GE full time for two years between her graduation from Villanova and entering Harvard Business School for her MBA.
While at GE Plastics, Perkins attended a management training program. "That piqued my interest in management," she said.
Our of Harvard, Perkins joined Bain & Company, an international firm that advises the health care industry and which fostered her interest in the biotechnology industry.
In 1992, Perkins joined the Genetics Institute, where she served as vice president of emerging businesses, then served as vice president of business and corporate development at TransForm Pharmaceuticals. Around this time, she came to know Steven H. Holtzman, who founded Infinity Pharmaceuticals in 2001.
"We thought it would be exciting to work together," Perkins said.
She joined Holtzman's company in 2002 and eventually became its president and chief business officer.
Management succession plan
Perkins' transition to president and CEO next month is part of a management succession plan with Holtzman, who will stay on as executive chairman of the board of directors.
"The plan has been in place for several years," said Perkins. "With a company like ours, we have to be looking three or five years ahead."
Perkins is the right person to lead the company to its next level of growth, Holtzman said.
"Adeline is a highly skilled businessperson and an exceptional leader," Holtzman said in a statement. "It is because of her vision and tenacity that Infinity is both strong today, and positioned beautifully for the future, with a solid cash position, and U.S.commercial rights to our entire oncology portfolio."
Role in creating partnership
Of Infinity's $13.8 million in third quarter revenues, all but $700,000 consisted of revenue for research and development services that are related to the company's alliance with two major companies, Purdue Pharmaceutical Products LP and Mundipharma International Corporation Limited, a partnership Perkins had a role in creating in November 2008.
Perkins is married to Roland Perkins, and has four children: Macie, 22; Michael, 20; Roland Jr., 17; and Grace, 14. Her parents still live in Pittsfield, and the family visits frequently.
"We go back to Pittsfield every single weekend in the winter and ski at Bousquet," she said.
To reach Tony Dobrowolski: firstname.lastname@example.org, or (413) 496-6224.