Recipient of the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award
Norwalk, CT — March 13, 2014
Kathy Giusti, Founder and CEO of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), received Research!America's 2014 Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award for advancing the research and treatment of multiple myeloma. The award was presented to Giusti at the 2014 Advocacy Awards at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., where more than 400 leaders from government, industry, academia and health advocacy organizations came together to recognize top medical and health research advocates who have made an impact in advancing the nation's commitment toward research.
“Giusti’s personal strength and perseverance have contributed greatly to the field of myeloma research and progress in finding new treatments to increase longevity and improve the quality of life for patients,” said Mary Woolley, President and CEO of Research!America. “Her passion and drive to find cures has changed the landscape of cancer research for generations to come due to her foundation’s ability to create game changing models that are emulated by other organizations—in tissue banking, genomics, clinical trials and open access to big data."
“I am deeply honored to accept on behalf of the entire MMRF team Research!America’s Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award,” said Kathy Giusti, Founder and CEO of the MMRF. “What Research!America and the Gund Foundation do is so critically important and I know firsthand the extraordinary impact scientists, clinicians, industry, the government and patients can all have when they are working together for a common goal. Through the hard work of our amazing partners and donors, myeloma, an uncommon cancer, has seen more progress than perhaps any other cancer.”
Upon learning that she was diagnosed with myeloma and given three years to live, Giusti founded the MMRF in the hopes of pulling together the best scientists, pharmaceutical partners, biotech companies and academic centers in the world to facilitate progress in drug development. At that time, there was very little research on the disease and patient life expectancy was just three years. Under her leadership, there have been rapid technological advancements in genomic sequencing and the ability to store, integrate and share data in an open access world where patients have become more empowered in driving toward a cure.
Research!America’s Award benefactors Gordon and Llura Gund, have supported medical and health research for more than 40 years. They co-founded the Foundation Fighting Blindness, dedicated to driving the research that will lead to preventions, treatments and cures for an entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases. They have been benefactors of the award since 2006, when Gordon Gund received an Advocacy Award for his role in advancing research for retinal degenerative diseases.
Other 2014 Research!America Advocacy Award winners are Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA); Representative Chaka Fattah (D-PA); actress Glenn Close and her family for their work to end the stigmas and misunderstandings surrounding mental illness; Leroy Hood, MD, PhD, president of the Institute for Systems Biology; Reed Tuckson, MD, managing director of Tuckson Health Connections; and The Progeria Research Foundation (PRF).
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About Multiple Myeloma Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cell. It is the second most common blood cancer. An estimated 24,050 adults (13,500 men and 10,550 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2014 and an estimated 11,090 people are predicted to die from the disease. The five-year survival rate for multiple myeloma is approximately 43%, versus 28% in 1998.
About the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) was established in 1998 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization by twin sisters Karen Andrews and Kathy Giusti, soon after Kathy's diagnosis with multiple myeloma. The mission of the MMRF is to relentlessly pursue innovative means that accelerate the development of next-generation multiple myeloma treatments to extend the lives of patients and lead to a cure. As the world's number-one private funder of multiple myeloma research, the MMRF has raised $250 million since its inception and directs 90% of total budget to research and related programming. As a result, the MMRF has been awarded Charity Navigator’s coveted four-star rating for 11 consecutive years, the highest designation for outstanding fiscal responsibility and exceptional efficiency.
About Research!America Research!America is the nation's largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. The 2014 Advocacy Awards represent Research!America's 18th year of recognizing the accomplishments of leading advocates for medical and health research. For more information, visit www.researchamerica.org/advocacy_awards.