Kathy Giusti

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation
New Canaan, CT, United States

About Kathy

Bio

Kathy Giusti is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC). Giusti launched the MMRF in 1998, after her diagnosis with the incurable blood cancer multiple myeloma, followed by the MMRC in 2004. Leveraging her for-profit experience, she applied her business savvy to the science of cancer research and has helped to transform the culture of the traditional not-for-profit model. Her successful track record of building groundbreaking collaborative models underpinned by strong incentive structures to accelerate drug discovery and development has yielded meaningful returns for multiple myeloma patients. Further, committed to maximizing the patient-impact of these models, Giusti has shared her approach with many research organizations that are pursuing treatment advances for a number of cancers and other devastating diseases.

Prior to founding the MMRF, Giusti, a former pharmaceutical executive who began her career with Merck & Co, last served as Executive Director of G.D. Searle’s worldwide arthritis franchise. Giusti, a multiple myeloma patient, was named to the 2011 TIME 100 List of the world’s most influential people.

She has received many other awards for her leadership efforts, including the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Centennial Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award, and the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association's Woman of the Year Award.

Additionally, she has been featured on the Today Show, CBS Evening News, CBS This Morning, CNN Money, Fox News and NBC Nightly News, as well as in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Economist, and TIME.

Giusti currently serves on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, as an advisor to Stand Up to Cancer, and has previously served on the President’s National Cancer Advisory Board, the Board of Directors for IMS Health and the Institute of Medicine's National Cancer Policy Board. She received her MBA in general management from Harvard Business School and graduated from the University of Vermont magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences.

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

167241
Kathy Giusti
Posted almost 3 years ago
Jane Fonda: Life's third act
Jane Fonda touches on a number of intriguing perspectives towards how to go on living your life while aging. How do we use this time? How do we live it successfully? What we can do to use these added years to make a difference? This talk particularly touched me. You never forget the moment you hear, “You have cancer.” Even after 15 years, the heartbreak of that day doesn’t seem to fade. Each January, as the anniversary draws near of my diagnosis with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, I brace for what is a bittersweet day—one laced with feelings of devastation and fear that never quite go away, yet mixed with immense gratitude for the beginning of another year I never imagined I’d live to see. January 2011 also marked another anniversary in my life with multiple myeloma—five years since my stem cell transplant with my twin sister, Karen, as my donor. I will always remember that day as a re-birth—a new chance for me to fight the disease and the belief that I just might make it through. I am thankful for each and every moment the transplant bought me. I feel so blessed to celebrate the incredible gift of time my sister gave me and reminded me to never take for granted the hope that my transplant brought. It is moments like these, surrounded by the people who mean the most, that patients live and breathe for. In 1996, myeloma had no awareness, research, or funding. The treatments offered were the same as in 1956. Initially, I just wanted to live to see my 1.5 year old daughter start kindergarten. I had to start an organization dedicated to this disease to change the dismal statistics. Karen and I founded the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) in 1998. The work funded by the MMRF has dramatically changed the prognosis of a myeloma diagnosis. 5 drugs have been approved by the FDA. Myeloma patients are living seven years and longer. I have now lived to see my daughter start her first year of college and her younger brother start high school!
167241
Kathy Giusti
Posted almost 3 years ago
Mina Bissell: Experiments that point to a new understanding of cancer
What an Inspiring talk. Mina's revolutionary research has the potential to result in dramatic advances in cancer research. It's so important that we look at radical new ways to push research forward. At the Multiple Myleoma Research Foundation (MMRF) we have mapped the multiple myeloma genome and launched a Personalized Medicine Initiative to accelerate the knowledge of the basic biology of multiple myeloma. The cornerstone of our Personalized Medicine Initiative is our CoMMpass study (relating Clinical Outcomes in Multiple Myeloma to Personal AsseSSment of genetic profile). CoMMpass will look at 1,000 patients and study them from their very first bone marrow biopsy through 5 years, looking at their data longitudinally. We’re banking the tissue, we’re looking at all the molecular data, and we’re looking at all the clinical data. It is critically important to determine how a patient’s myeloma changes over time. What are we seeing in terms of how patients are tolerating treatments? What are we seeing in their genetic makeup that makes them better able to tolerate certain drugs? As we accumulate more and more data, we will be able to look at those data and understand more about biomarkers and new targets in the disease. With the goal of matching the right patient with the right treatment at the right time.
167241
Kathy Giusti
Posted almost 3 years ago
Bruce Feiler: The council of dads
On January 12, 1986, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma - a blood cancer. The oncologist held my hand and looked me in the eye: "Kathy, it is 100% fatal. You have about 3 years. Get you life in order. Spend time with your family." At age 37, I was the mother of a 1.5 year old daughter. I asked myself a tough question: despite knowing I was dying, what would make me happy? My goal became clear: to live long enough that my daughter would remember me. I had heard that children start remember their moms around age 5. I just wanted to see her start kindergarten. The odds were against me. Myeloma had no awareness, research, or funding. The treatments offered in 1996 were the same as in 1956. I had to start an organization dedicated to this disease to change the dismal statistics. If I could just jumpstart research maybe I would live long enough for my daughter to remember me. I also decided to have another child, even knowing that my life might not be that long, I wanted my daughter to grow up with a sibling. By 1997, thanks to invitro fertilization, I had given birth to a healthy baby boy. My family moved from IL to CT, where both my identical twin sister, Karen Andrews , and my husband’s parents lived. Karen and I soon had an ambitious plan to raise money to fund myeloma research. Our first fundraiser was a gala held in October 1997, which brought in more than $450,000. We used the money to fund an initial round of research and to form the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF). The work funded by the MMRF has dramatically changed the prognosis of a myeloma diagnosis. Five promising drugs have been approved by the FDA. Myeloma patients are living seven years and longer. There are eight more drugs in clinical trial, most of them tested through the clinical framework set up by the MMRF. Mapping of the myeloma genome, funded by the MMRF, will likely lead to new breakthroughs. My little girl has just started college and her brother is in high school.
167241
Kathy Giusti
Posted almost 3 years ago
Danny Hillis: Understanding cancer through proteomics
Danny Hills makes a very strong argument in favor an increased emphasis in the study of proteomics in cancer research. The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) has awarded $2.25 million to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Indiana University, and the University of Michigan through its cutting-edge Proteomics Initiative for the research of multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. The MMRF Proteomics Initiative is a multi-year research commitment intended to unleash the potential that proteomics research holds for the identification of new biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets in myeloma. This MMRF Proteomics Initiative is an innovative collaborative effort among three academic medical centers with strong clinical translational research capabilities and state-of-the-art facilities. By comparing plasma cells from healthy volunteers and myeloma patients, scientists will achieve a greater understanding of the molecular basis of disease initiation and progression, and identify predictive markers that could enable personalized medicine. All data will be shared and the findings from this initiative will result in jointly authored publications. The MMRF Proteomics Initiative will employ cutting-edge proteomic technologies to analyze myeloma patient tissue samples and identify biomarkers that are responsible for the disease's onset and progression, as well as patients' response to treatments. Identification of these biomarkers well help accelerate the discovery and development of new myeloma therapies.
167241
Kathy Giusti
Posted almost 3 years ago
David Agus: A new strategy in the war on cancer
David Agus's belief that genetics and proteomics are crucial to identifying what the fight against cancer is up against is exactly where cancer research needs to focus on moving forward. The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) has launched the landmark CoMMpass (Relating Clinical Outcomes in MM to Personal Assessment of Genetic Profile) to focus on advancing personalized medicine approaches for patients battling multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that is currently incurable. The first of its kind in multiple myeloma, the MMRF CoMMpass study will follow 1,000 newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients over a five-year period to understand the molecular and genetic changes underpinning the evolution of the disease. Sequential tissue sampling during the study will help to identify how a patient’s molecular profile may affect his or her clinical progression and individual response to treatment, with the goal of facilitating future clinical trials and personalized treatment strategies based on the resulting information database. The MMRF CoMMpass study is at the center of the MMRF’s efforts to improve myeloma treatments and patient outcomes through personalized medicine, by gleaning critical genetic information that will enable existing treatments to be tailored to specific patients based on their markers, and to identify and move forward new targeted treatments with research and industry collaborators. Innovation of this magnitude requires a bold, ambitious, and highly collaborative approach to science. As a trusted third party, the MMRF alone was able to bring together a phenomenal team of academic institutions and community cancer centers nationwide to collaborate and really drive the CoMMpass study forward.
167241
Kathy Giusti
Posted almost 3 years ago
Jay Bradner: Open-source cancer research
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) has developed innovative, collaborative business models to reshape the R&D enterprise with the single-minded focus of accelerating the development of new treatments for patients to extend their lives and lead to a cure. In its early days, the MMRF's first priority was to overcome the challenge that no single entity had the resources or mandate to coordinate multiple myeloma research comprehensively. Because the disease is uncommon and heterogeneous, there had been no focal point created to pull together the critical mass of patients, basic scientists, clinicians and industry partners needed to sustain an effective level of focus on the disease. To meet this challenge, in 2004, we partnered with four like-minded and highly motivated academic centers to form the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC). To overcome the challenges often associated with academic collaboration, we placed the MMRC outside of the traditional academic boundaries. We established straightforward agreements for publishing rights and intellectual property, and used innovative engagement strategies and business solutions to drive collaborative behavior and accelerate drug development.