UConn Magazine: Underachiever No More

No one who knew Jim LaFlamme back in the ’70s would have predicted what he’s doing now.

LaFlamme at his BioPharma Global office.

LaFlamme at his BioPharma Global office. (Contributed photo)

Jim LaFlamme just made a multimillion-dollar bequest to the UConn School of Pharmacy, a gift that anyone who knew him back in the ’70s would never have predicted.

This is, after all, the same Jim LaFlamme ’79 (PHAR) who had a reputation as a bit of a troublemaker with little regard for classroom learning back then. “I mean, I took full advantage of the 18-year-old drinking age when I was at UConn,” LaFlamme says. “I didn’t take anything seriously because I had a photographic memory. For the first two years, I didn’t go to class at all. I took the tests, and that was it.”

LaFlamme readily admits that without the counsel of the dean at the time, Karl Nieforth, he wouldn’t have graduated.“He told me, ‘You may not see it yourself, but you’re destined for something great. You don’t have confidence in yourself, but I have confidence in you.’ I said to myself, ‘Shoot, now I owe this guy something, and I can’t let him down.’”

Something Great

The dean was right. LaFlamme earned a master’s degree in management from Indiana Wesleyan University and went on to a distinguished and diverse health care career. He served as executive vice president with Coté Orphan, responsible for all global operations within both the regulatory affairs and business development divisions and was a director with Pricewaterhouse Coopers, advising healthcare clients in both the public and commercial sectors. Early in his career, LaFlamme held director of pharmacy, administrative, and executive positions with medical centers in Maine, Indiana, Connecticut, and Colorado.

Four years ago, he started his own company, BioPharma Global in Vienna, Virginia, which shepherds pharmaceuticals used to treat rare “orphan diseases” through the FDA’s regulatory process. An orphan disease affects fewer than 200,000 people. LaFlamme was inspired in part because he hopes to find a treatment for his own inflammatory condition, which has yet to be named.

Read on for more.