Bruce Bloom, Class of 1988
President and chief science officer of Cures Within Reach
Dr. Bruce Bloom is President and Chief Science Officer of Cures Within Reach, a 501(c)(3) organization that has been saving lives since 2005 by repurposing approved drugs and devices to deliver fast, safe and affordable treatments and cures for disorders that have no effective therapy. His business and entrepreneurial experience spans both not-for-profit and for-profit work, including medical research, law, health care, insurance, regulatory affairs, product development, food service, art and education. Bloom has served as Senior Vice President, Healthcare Professional Liability at both Kemper Casualty Company and CNA HealthPro, Director of Professional Relations and Clinical Affairs at Bausch and Lomb Oral Care Division, Associate Director of Clinical Research for the National Patent Development Corporation and Vice President of the consulting firm, American Dental Examiners. He has served on numerous charitable and institutional boards and is currently a Trustee of the Kendall College Charitable Trust, a member of the Board of Councilors of Midwestern University and a member of the Board of the Judy Hirsch Foundation. Dr. Bloom was elected an International Ashoka Social Entrepreneur Fellow in 2010. Ashoka recognizes social entrepreneurs for their system-changing solutions to the world’s most urgent social problems.
What were you like as a law student?
Totally engaged. I thought law school was an endless puzzle with lots of clues. I was just a few years from completing dental school, which was a much greater challenge because it required a lot of physical skill and grace – not my strength! Law school, on the other hand, engaged my mind and creativity.
Who is your favorite U.S. Supreme Court justice (living or deceased)?
Louis Brandeis. He was way ahead of his time – many of the things we take for granted today he was pioneering back in the early part of the past century when minds were not as open. I like what Justice William O. Douglas wrote about him: “Brandeis was a militant crusader for social justice whoever his opponent might be. He was dangerous not only because of his brilliance, his arithmetic, his courage. He was dangerous because he was incorruptible.” Brandeis had vision, intelligence, integrity and tenacity.
Describe your career path. What steps did you take to get where you are today?
I always wanted to be a dentist, but towards the end of dental school it became clear that some serious vision issues were going to curtail a full time dental practice. I decided to become an anesthesiologist and had to wait three years to enroll in a residency program. While I was waiting I started a business with another dentist, Midwest Dental Examiners, and enrolled at Chicago-Kent part-time. I loved law school so much that I cancelled my anesthesia residency. I graduated from Chicago-Kent in 1988 in the initial growth curve of medical malpractice, and went to work consulting for CNA Insurance Company as a risk manager. My full time job was with Bausch and Lomb, supervising clinical research and regulatory affairs, and assisting with product development. Six years later, I left B&L to become a full-time employee of CNA, eventually running a $200M Healthcare Professional Liability business unit. I was recruited to Kemper Insurance to start a Healthcare Professional Liability business, but Kemper imploded a few years later (I was not totally responsible for that!). I bought the local Dairy Queen and had a blast for about a year running it! Then I found a perfect position in the non-profit world that combined my business, healthcare and law backgrounds. That’s where I am today.
What has been your greatest professional achievement?
In my current position at Cures Within Reach my partners and I have created life-saving treatments for children in several rare diseases by funded medical research that took a drug approved for a common disease and proving that it could work for a rare disease. Knowing that all of us working together created those life-saving solutions feels awesome. Many kids are alive and functioning well today because of that joint effort.
What advice would you give to young attorneys just starting out today?
Use your law background, learning and experience in whatever way you can to make the world a better place. I think legal education sharpens minds, sharpens tongues and, if people still used them, sharpens pencils. Law school can dramatically improve your oral and written presentation skills, your logic and your intellect. And it will connect you to a world of similar people. Make the most of it, even if you don’t practice law full time.