'X' MARKS TARGET OF HIS
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
" 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.,
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
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
"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