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The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking by Eli Broad

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Chapter 14

The Logic of Being Logical

I’m unreasonably logical.

I don’t mean I’m irrational—because that’s something you never want to be. Rather, logic is when you look at all the facts and they lead you to the conclusion that something makes sense.

And unreasonable logic is when you stick to facts and sensible conclusions when others are giving in to emotion or distraction.

One of the areas where that has been particularly helpful is in our foundation’s support of biomedical research. Over time I had become convinced that our family’s philanthropy ought to approach medical research the way a venture capitalist approaches investment—look for promising new ideas and put up seed money that can be leveraged. It’s a concept that produced exceptional results when we got involved in creating a genomic research institute in 2001.

For years one of our sons had suffered from Crohn’s disease, which has no known cause or cure. As a parent you never want to see your child suffer, and Edye and I were beyond frustrated with our inability to help. We decided to start The Broad Medical Research Program to fund small seed grants for PhDs and other nontraditional researchers doing innovative and early-stage research into inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Their work, however innovative and ambitious, generally wasn’t far enough along to qualify for traditional funding sources such as the National Institutes of Health. One of our early grantees was Eric Lander, ...

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