January 27, 2011; Source: xconomy.com | John Flatley, a real estate developer in the Boston area, has a family member with cystic fibrosis and this is obviously driving his hands-on philanthropic approach to the issue. In 2008, Flatley quietly founded the Flatley Discovery Lab, a nonprofit facility that is experimenting with new drugs for cystic fibrosis.

After opening the facility, Flatley says, he was approached by others who were seeking support to develop CF related technologies for what is a very small market of approximately 30,000 in the United States and 70,000 worldwide. As a result Flatley has now put together a venture capital fund to address these biotech endeavors, with an expectation only of breaking even.

“It’s something that has evolved out of necessity more than anything . . . People are coming to me with ideas and they need funding. In order to get these things launched, somebody needs to take that first risky step. I decided to take on that role in the CF community.”

The venture fund has hired a chief analyst who will evaluate proposals and Flately also provides financial support to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.—Ruth McCambridge