25 Anniversary Spotlight

About Our 25 for 25

Friends of Cancer Research is proud to present 25 scientific and advocacy leaders who, through their work and partnership with Friends, have been instrumental over the course of our 25 years in making significant advancements for patients.

These individuals’ dedication to patients is unsurpassed, and they have helped shape our work while catalyzing innovation and improvements in healthcare through their work. It is thanks to these leaders and their integral role in Friends that we have achieved the level of success for patients that we have to date.

Stay tuned every other week as we unveil a new leader of the health field that we would like to thank for helping Friends become the small, but mighty organization we are today.

Janet Woodcock

Acting Commissioner, U.S. FDA

As a tireless public servant, Dr. Woodcock has dedicated her career to helping patients at FDA. She has been a guiding force to Friends and the broader community toward scientific advancement and a modernized regulatory process. Dr. Woodcock is a leading voice in FDA’s efforts to expand clinical trial access and reach patients more effectively in their own communities.

Peter Marks

Director, Center for Biologics Evaluation & Research, U.S. FDA

Dr. Marks, an oncologist and head of the center for biologics at FDA, has been leading a new frontier of cancer innovation and has worked with Friends on several initiatives to advance the future of cell and gene therapies.

Sandra Horning

Fmr. Chief Medical Officer & Global Head of Product Development of Roche, Inc.

A dedicated oncologist, Dr. Horning has devoted her career to find and provide treatments to patients. During her tenure as a transformative leader in drug development, she worked with Friends to make the breakthrough therapy designation a reality for patients.

Harpreet Singh

Director, Division of Oncology 2, U.S. FDA, Associate Director, Cancer in Older Adults and Special Populations, OCE

Dr. Singh is a dedicated Director in the Division of Oncology 2 at FDA who has partnered with Friends on numerous initiatives including efforts to optimize the Breakthrough Therapy Designation to help patient access to innovative new cancer treatments.

Ned Sharpless

Director, National Cancer Institute

Dr. Sharples is a highly-respected oncologist and director of the NCI. He has collaborated with Friends on expanding eligibility criteria so that trials may be more accessible to patients.

Sherry Lansing

Co-Founder, Stand Up To Cancer

A longtime advocate for cancer patients, Sherry has been involved with Friends since the beginning. She was one of the founding board members and helped shape the organization into what it is today.

Andrew von Eschenbach

Fmr. Commissioner, U.S. FDA

An internationally renowned cancer specialist, Andrew has dedicated his life’s work to helping patients. He was one of the first FDA Commissioners to be open to having discussions with advocacy groups like Friends, and as such helped to modernize FDA.

Freda Lewis-Hall

Life Sciences Leader, Managing Director, INTELMED, LLC

Dr. Lewis-Hall has been a powerful voice in transforming how the biomedical industry views and is structured around patients' priorities. She has been a pivotal partner in our many policy initiatives to firmly establish patients as a critical partner in translating scientific discovery to the delivery of life-saving treatments.

Diana DeGette and Fred Upton

U.S. House of Representatives, CO & MI

Reps. DeGette (D-CO)and Upton’s (R-MI) careers are a masterclass in putting aside partisan politics to enact real change. This was most evidenced by their leadership to develop the 21st Century Cures Act, which optimized medical product development and is bringing new innovations and advances to patients who need them.

Francis Collins

Director, National Institutes of Health

He changed science forever by mapping the human genome and has led NIH during a time of breathtaking innovation and unprecedented discovery. Dr. Collins has been a longtime collaborator and trusted advisor of Friends in our work on reimagining how clinical trials can be designed to be patient-centered, equitable, and accessible.

Margaret Hamburg

Interim Vice President, Global Biological Policy and Programs, NTI

Well-known and respected for her work in regulatory science, Peggy has strived throughout her career to help patients. While she was FDA Commissioner, she worked closely with Friends as a champion of both the breakthrough therapy designation and Lung-MAP.

Anthony Fauci

Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID)

Dr. Fauci is the world's leading infectious disease expert, one of our Nation’s strongest voices for science and reason, and the true definition of a public servant. His pivotal work to fight HIV/AIDS saved millions of lives and has led to countless scientific breakthroughs, including the development of immunotherapy, a game-changer in the fight against cancer.

Maria Freire

President and Executive Director, Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH)

A widely recognized expert in technology commercialization, Dr. Freire has been dedicated to helping patients for years. She is an innovative pioneer of public/private partnerships as the leader of the Foundation for the NIH and has worked with Friends on key initiatives including Lung-MAP.

Scott Gottlieb

Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

Dr. Gottlieb is both a former FDA Commissioner and cancer survivor. He understands firsthand how critical it is for patients to get high-quality care in a timely manner. As a foremost policy expert, he collaborated with Friends on several initiatives while at FDA, including the MODERN Labeling Act, to ensure readily available and reliable information for patients.

Otis Brawley

Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Johns Hopkins University

A widely respected expert in cancer care and prevention, Dr. Brawley has been an influential part of Friends since the beginning. Through his time as a board member, he helped shape Friends and influenced the collaborative nature of the organization.

Joseph R. Biden Jr.

President, United States of America

President Biden has for years been public about his family’s struggles with cancer and vocal about his passion and determination to find a cure for the disease. He led the Cancer Moonshot in 2016 and appointed Friends Chair & Founder, Ellen, to its Blue Ribbon Panel.

Amy Abernethy

President, Verily Life Sciences

A champion of patient-focused drug development and real-world data, Dr. Abernethy works tirelessly for patients. Friends has had the privilege of collaborating with Amy on numerous projects, including our work on comparative effectiveness research, real-world evidence initiatives, and the COVID-19 Evidence Accelerator.

Roy Herbst

Chief of Medical Oncology, Yale Cancer Center

Dr. Herbst is one of the foremost leaders in lung cancer treatment and research. He is an original architect and principal investigator of Lung-MAP, a first-of-its-kind clinical trial that originated from our Annual Meeting and has reshaped how clinical trials are conducted.

Richard Pazdur

Director, Oncology Center of Excellence, FDA

A visionary leader in oncology, Dr. Pazdur has dedicated his life and career to improving the lives of cancer patients. Throughout his storied career at FDA, he has led continuous process improvements, shepherded a new era of science, and transformed the Agency’s approach to oncology. He has been at the epicenter of Friends' most impactful work.

Marian Johnson-Thompson

Professor Emerita of Biology, University of the District of Columbia (UDC) & Adjunct Professor, Maternal and Child Health, School of Global Public Health, UNC-Chapel Hill

Dr. Johnson-Thompson is a virologist with decades of experience in clinical trial research. She is also a passionate patient advocate and has been a steadfast partner with Friends over the years on several educational initiatives including ProgressForPatients.org and Project TEACH.

Michael Bennet

U.S. Senator for the State of Colorado

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) has made a political career of creating impactful policy for the benefit of patients. He was one of the first to standup and help Friends champion the breakthrough therapy designation, which was passed into law in 2012.

Richard Klausner

Founder and Executive Chairman, Lyell Immunopharma, Inc.

A true innovator and renowned scientist. During his time as NCI Director, Dr. Klausner worked tirelessly to lead NCI to become the collaborative and forward-looking institution it is today. He was also a driving force behind the creation of Friends'.

Ed Kim

Physician-in-Chief, City of Hope Orange County

Ed Kim, renowned lung cancer specialist, has led our work expanding eligibility criteria to make clinical trials more representative and accessible to more patients. Each project working group’s latest publications were released in early 2021.

Debbie Dingell


A founding member of the Friends board, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is a lifelong advocate to ensure patients have access to quality healthcare. Believing in our mission, she helped lay the foundation for the organization.

Mark McClellan

Director of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University

A foremost expert in healthcare through public service and innovative polices, our unique, collaborative model of constructing policy papers to actionable solutions was created with Mark in what has led to our annual meetings.