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High School Dropout VS Big Pharma: The Fight to Save My Son’s Life
By Patrick Girondi
“I’d been strangled, shot at, skated more than 20 arrests, made it through three FBI witch hunts, and went from the docks to trading and big money.”
It’s a life description that makes it all the more remarkable to hear gritty high-school dropout, Patrick Girondi, go on to say, “I would see my son cured. How hard could it be?”
Saving his son was the ultimate goal Patrick describes in his incredible-but-true memoir, FLIGHT OF THE RONDONE – High School Dropout VS Big Pharma: The Fight to Save My Son’s Life (Skyhorse; May 24, 2022).
Growing up as a street kid on Chicago’s South Side, Patrick was all too familiar with challenges and the determination needed to survive. Like a dog with a bone, he was relentless when chasing a goal, all while remembering to help those less equipped and less fortunate.
Complete luck landed Girondi on the trading floors of Chicago. Overnight, he found himself a two-time guest on Oprah, and a subject in Playgirl Magazine’s America’s Most Eligible Bachelors, next to Sylvester Stallone and Magic Johnson.
Harsh reality intruded when his son was diagnosed with an orphan disease, Thalassemia (also known as Cooley’s Anemia), an inherited blood disorder. Thalassemia is a cousin disease to Sickle Cell Disease; both afflictions are caused by a defective beta-globin gene. Orphan diseases have patient populations of less than 200,000 people in the US and less than 250,000 in Europe.
FLIGHT OF THE RONDONE is a story of love, luck, and beating the odds, all told with little regard for empire or etiquette. As Girondi points out: “I’m just an average dad. Any parent would do the same if they had the means.”
Girondi founded San Rocco Therapeutics (formerly Errant Gene Therapeutics) in 1993. Over the years he raised funds from friends and angel investors. One of Girondi’s angels was John Walton of Walmart.
To respect his investors, Girondi never took a paycheck. The motto for his life became, “A wasted dollar is one less for research.” This obviously didn’t sit well with many modern CEOs.
San Rocco Therapeutics produced the world’s first commercial batch of gene therapy vectors in 2010. Girondi and his team were jubilant, confident that Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia were at the cusp of being defeated. They then confronted an unexpected enemy—more lethal than the disease itself, goliaths of the pharma industry intent on stealing from and destroying the company.
PATRICK FINLEY GIRONDI, originally from the South Side of Chicago, is an Italian-American singer-songwriter, author, and founder of San Rocco Therapeutics. Girondi has released five music albums and is the author of Diamond in the Rough. He has led his company, San Rocco Therapeutics, since 1993, with the mission to cure Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia.
The International Museum of Surgical Science, a Division of the International College of Surgeons, was founded in 1954 by Dr. Max Thorek. The Museum is committed to enriching lives by enhancing an appreciation and understanding of the history, development, and advances in surgery and related subjects in health and medicine. The Museum is located in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood and is housed in a historic lake-shore mansion designed in the early 20th century by Howard Van Doren Shaw.