Boston has more hospital chiefs on corporate boards than other cities, investigation finds

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An investigation published by The Boston Globe reveals that it is commonplace for hospital chiefs in Boston to work as directors of publicly traded companies, and that they do so at rates above the national level.

Researchers found that five of the seven CEOs and presidents of Boston's major teaching hospitals serve as directors of publicly traded companies. 

In addition to the five hospital heads, the former CEO of Boston's Children Hospital, who retired March 31, and the former president of Brigham and Women's Hospital, who stepped down March 1, also held positions on corporate boards.

By comparison, only three of the nation's 18 most elite hospitals outside Boston, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, are headed by executives on corporate boards, the investigation found.

Critics of hospital chiefs' involvement on corporate boards say the positions raise concerns about potential conflicts of interest and could distract leaders from hospital priorities. In one example, Dr. Nabel attended between 30 and 40 board committee meetings called by the two companies in 2019.

Hospital trustees and chiefs of the seven Boston hospitals declined interview requests from the Globe. However, they issued statements to the newspaper defending outside directorships, saying they can increase collaboration with critical sectors, such as the bioscience sector, and that potential conflicts of interest can be avoided with the proper safeguards. 

The seven heads or former heads of Boston's major teaching hospitals who serve on corporate boards are::

  1. Laurie Glimcher, MD. President and CEO of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
    Annual hospital compensation: $1.8 million
    Company: GlaxoSmithKline, $180,000; Analog Devices, $139,145*

  2. Peter Slavin, MD. President of Massachusetts General Hospital.
    Annual hospital compensation: $2.4 million
    Company: Amwell, $475,003

  3. Sandra Fenwick. Former CEO of Boston Children's Hospital (retired March 31)
    Annual hospital compensation: $2.7 million
    Company: Teladoc Health, $1,058,250*

  4. Kevin Churchwell, MD. CEO of Boston Children's Hospital.
    Annual hospital compensation: $1.6 million
    Company: Cyclerion Therapeutics, $141,253*

  5. Elizabeth Nabel, MD. Former President of Brigham and Women's Hospital. (stepped down March 1).
    Annual hospital compensation: $2.4 million
    Company: Medtronic, $385,054; Moderna, $487,500

  6. Kate Walsh. President and CEO of Boston Medical Center.
    Annual hospital compensation: $2.6 million
    Company: Beam Therapeutics, $817,500

  7. Michael Tarnoff, MD. Interim President and CEO of Tufts Medical Center.
    Annual hospital compensation: $1.1 million
    Company: AngioDynamics, $37,726*

The asterisk represents a partial salary because they joined the board after the start of the year.

The investigation, published April 3, was conducted by the Globe Spotlight Team. For the investigation, Equilar, a corporate leadership data firm, conducted an analysis for the Globe, and researchers examined data from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Association of American Medical Colleges, Children's Hospital Association, U.S. News & World Report, and individual hospitals.

Read more about the investigation here.

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