Second Time Around
By Irwin Spivak
The Palm Beach Post
Tuesday, July 10, 2001

Harris Hollin and his wife Sande knew something was not right with their 18-month-old grandson, Matthew. The more they saw the child, the more convinced they were that there was a problem. At first, their son and daughter denied it, but the elder Hollin finally persuaded them to take Matthew to a geneticist.

That's when they learned that Matthew had Fragile X, a genetic disorder that is the most common inherited cause of mental retardation and learning disabilities.

"I never even heard of "Fragile X," said Harris Hollin, 69. "When I heard the news, I told my son, Mitchell and his wife, Cristy, that I would do anything I could to help." In April 1999, Hollin founded the Palm Beach-based Conquer Fragile X Foundation, a national, nonprofit organization that raises awareness and money to find a treatment for the disorder.

" I work full time now," he says, "raising funds for the foundation to distribute through grants and fellowships to support research in the U. S. and Israel."

His volunteer role as a director with Philadelphia's Wistar Institute, one of the nation's top biomedical research centers, helped provide connections with many scientists and medical centers in Israel. Most of the foundation's research is funded there. One of Hollin's goals is to establish a virtual research center to develop a cure for Fragile X . So far, most of the foundation's money has come from the Jewish community but Hollin hopes to broaden it's support.
Fragile X symptoms include mental impairment, ranging form learning disabilities to mental retardation; attention deficit and hyperactivity; anxiety and unstable mood; autistic-like behavior, including hand-flapping; long face, large ears and flat feet. The disease affects about 2 million people of all races and ethnic groups.

Hollin, who lives in Palm Beach, came to Florida 20 years ago but still maintains a summer residence in Philadelphia, where he and his wife spend about three months a year.
He began his career at age 22, working for Friden, the business machine manufacturing company. He started as a junior salesman while still in college. After his graduation and arm service, he became sales manager of operations in Delaware and later was promoted to manager of the Oakland, Calif., branch.

After 16 years with Friden, Hollin joined American Medicore as a group vice president. Medicore was a hospital management organization and he was responsible for supervision of all non-hospital activities, which included several hundred personnel.

He moved to the Revlon organization as general manager of the new health services division. Eventually, he became president of international pharmaceutical operations, responsible for and traveling to companies in 18 countries.

Finally, Hollin decided to go his own way. He purchased a Pennsylvania public pharmaceutical company and took it private. Nine years later, he sold it to Teva, Israel's largest pharmaceutical company.

"After the sale, I decided I wanted to say active but not necessarily in day-to-day, hands-on operations, so I purchased a few companies around the country with competent management. I acquired a cosmetics firm in New York, and an animal feed company in Arizona, a Florida home furnishings business and a Texas auto after-market organization." After several years of tracking these operation, Hollin decided to divest himself of his investments in 1992.

He began to devote himself to a long-standing hobby: collection hand-colored books from the 17th century. He owns several hundred texts collected from his worldwide travel that illustrate weapons, biology, botany, travel, architecture, military, comics and sports.

But for now, his mission is finding a cure for Fragile X. For more information, contact Hollin


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