MDI Biological Laboratory
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This Is Why: Dean Read

  • May 31, 2017

Dean Read adopted his philosophy of personal responsibility as a young loan officer whose loan applications were being rejected by bank management. At first, he blamed management for not recognizing the value of his work. But then he realized that blaming them accomplished nothing. If he wanted to succeed, he had to do a better job.

That philosophy has served him well over the course of a long career in banking, the capstone of which was his position as president of Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, from which he retired in 2005.

Read, 69, has also applied this philosophy to his health. The son of a doctor who died prematurely due in part to poor health habits — habits that ran contrary to the advice he gave his patients — Read learned firsthand the consequences of not taking care of yourself. Recognizing that cardiovascular disease was in his genes, he has always exercised, watched his diet and tried to control stress. An avid cyclist, he bikes 5,000 to 6,000 miles a year. He also advocates for what he calls a health “infrastructure”: he is active on the boards of the MDI Hospital, the Mount Desert Island YMCA and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. Indeed, he sees his volunteer activities as an important part of his credo of personal responsibility.

In terms of heart disease, which also runs in his wife’s family, his volunteer activities were focused for many years on the American Heart Association. But he was drawn to the MDI Biological Laboratory by the opportunity for a more significant impact offered by a small organization. In addition to being a loyal donor, he is currently chairman of the finance committee. He is seeing exciting results in the discovery of MSI-1436, a drug candidate to regenerate heart muscle tissue after a heart attack.

Read has not escaped heart trouble. In 2007, he suffered two heart “events,” one shortly after the other. The events were attributed to a spasm in a coronary artery that cut off the blood supply to his heart, rather than to a build-up of plaque. He has suffered no lasting damage, but he is acutely aware that with his and his wife’s family histories, it is likely that someone in his family will be affected. “Somewhere along the line, those genes will kick in,” he says. That is why supporting the work of scientists at the MDI Biological Laboratory is so important to him.

“I keep coming back to that lesson I learned as a young loan officer,” Read says. “The world isn’t going to change because you want it to. You have to ask, ‘What can I do?’ If I can play a small part in supporting what the lab is doing to help patients live healthier, more productive lives, I can help effect positive change.”

This post is excerpted from “Breaking Through,” the MDI Biological Laboratory’s biannual news magazine. Subscribe to “Breaking Through here.