Posts Tagged ‘Maria Freire’

Maria Freire’s Remarks at GHTC

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Remarks by Dr. Maria Freire, President, Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation
Presented at: “Innovation in Action: Advancing New Tools to Combat Global Health Diseases”
The Global Health Technologies Coalition in cooperation with Senator Patty Murray and The Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, Russell Senate Office Building, April 21, 2010

It is fitting that we are assembled in this beautiful venue, the Kennedy Caucus Room, named after a man who devoted his life to making research for health a high national priority and whose steadfast commitment to this goal helped make this country the global leader in biomedical research.

Because of U.S. research funding, our nation has outstanding scientists, clinicians and entrepreneurs, all of whom are part of an innovation continuum that is unparalleled around the globe. The results are simply astonishing: In the last two decades or so, we witnessed the sequencing of the human genome, developed antiretroviral treatments that successfully extend life, and produced drugs that can actually turn a cancer like chronic myeloid leukemia from a death sentence into a treatable condition.

In parallel, the world has become smaller – we can communicate instantaneously with people in almost every corner of the world. In doing so, as a society we have been made acutely aware of the health problems around the globe, particularly of diseases that disproportionately affect poor populations. And, as a society, we have come together to do something about this.

Global health is not a subject, it is a verb. It is about taking action.

In little over a decade, a new breed of organizations, the product-development partnerships, or PDPs, have generated over 100 new drug candidates and 39 diagnostic and vector control candidate technologies for neglected and tropical diseases. This is truly remarkable. And, it is not an accident.

This wave of innovation resulted from concerted efforts of scientists, clinicians, public health experts and advocates. They’ve come from academia, industry, civil society, philanthropy and government, from the North and from the South. Against heavy odds, they joined forces, with laser-sharp focus, to develop medicines, vaccines and diagnostics for diseases for which economic incentives were not the drivers.

When I started as CEO of the TB Alliance, our group had 3 people and no drug pipeline. Today, the world has the largest pipeline of TB drugs in history. We are indebted to those inspired leaders at agencies such as USAID and NIH, whose funding has enabled drug candidates to advance into clinical trials. As a consequence of the USAID investment, for example, endemic countries can develop the expertise and infrastructure to conduct basic and clinical research, which will enable them to tackle their enormous health challenges and increase their competitiveness.

Developments such as these are a very good start: they provide hope to millions of sick people and help increase the world’s capacity to tackle global disease. But, alas, this is merely a start.

To be “transformational,” we need to rectify the underfunding of research on health problems for the global poor. We need to embrace the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory expertise to help register safe and effective medicines, vaccines and diagnostics in countries around the world. And we need to act nimbly and creatively in finding and promoting innovative finance mechanisms to ensure that these life-saving tools reach those who need them.

The United States must be bold and innovative in its approach and ensure that biomedical funding is a strategic, economic, and policy cornerstone. As the leader in biomedical research, our country can spearhead a global movement for increased and sustainable funding for research that will transform the world.

The results of such an enterprise will be measurable: it will promote innovation for medicine, encourage basic, translational and clinical research, and spur economic development. This initiative would also provide an excellent opportunity to enable broad exchange of scientific information and promote education, within, among and between countries. Long term, the investment will reduce the burden of disease locally and globally, and enhance the quality and extend the productive lives of people everywhere.

With this global investment, we can envision a world in which disease and disability are ultimately conquered by the advances and knowledge generated from biomedical research.

Today, more than ever, with competing national and international priorities, we must not waiver from our path – we must deepen our funding of research for health and ensure that it remains not only a national priority, but a global imperative. Millions of lives, our own and those of our neighbors, depend on it.

Global Health Technologies Coalition Expo

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Yesterday in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building, Research!America participated in the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s Global Health EXPO briefing.

The event, “Innovation in Action: Advancing New Tools to Combat Global Health Disease” was presented in cooperation with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and The Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus. Fourteen Congressional offices sent representatives to the briefing.

The event called attention to the unmet need of new global health technologies to combat global diseases; to demonstrate the broad constituency that supports the development of such technologies; and to highlight the variety of critical new tools currently under development to prevent, diagnose, and treat global health diseases.

Speakers included Nils Daulaire, MD, MPH, director, Office of Global Health Affairs, HHS; Dr. Maria Freire: president, Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation; Christy Hanson, PhD, MPH, chief, Infectious Disease Division, Bureau for Global Health, USAID and Sylvie Kwedi, MPH, founder and president, Capacity for Leadership Excellence and Research and former deputy director, Site Development and Epidemiology, Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation.

“This is an exciting time in global health” said Dulaire. “There is a strong feeling that in the next five to ten years we can really make a positive impact on the health of the world’s poorest people.”

Drawing the connection of research to better health worldwide and here at home, Friere said, “We must deepen our funding of research for health and ensure that it remains not only a national priority, but a global imperative. Millions of lives, our own and those of our neighbors, depend on it.”

The GHTC’s first annual policy report was released at the briefing. The report and a two-page summary can be found online.

–Laura Steyer

Global Health Technologies Coalition’s Congressional Expo

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

The Global Health Technologies Coalition will host its first Congressional expo on April 21, 2010. GHTC advocates for research and development for new vaccines, diagnostics, drugs, microbicides and other tools in order to have the most effective health solutions when they are needed. This expo will emphasize the role of new health products for diseases affecting people around the world and highlight the need for even more innovation in this area. The event will showcase new tools which are under development to prevent, diagnose and treat global health issues. Also, GHTC will release its first annual report on global health research and development.

The event, “Innovation in action: advancing new tools to combat global health diseases,” will have two featured speakers and three panelists. The speakers will be Maria Freire, PhD, who is currently the president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, and Nils Daulaire, MD, MPH, who is the director of the Office of Global Health Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services. The panelists at the event will be Michael Johnson, MD, MPH, deputy director, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Sylvie Kwedi, MPH, MS, founder and president, Capacity for Leadership in Excellence and Research, Inc., and Christy Hanson, PhD, MPH, chief, Infectious Disease Division, Bureau for Global Health, United States Agency for International Development.

This event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building. Research!America is a member of GHTC and will have a table at the event.

To find out more visit To RSVP, contact Megan Miller at or 202.822.0033.

NIH Director Welcomes Three New Members to the Advisory Committee to the Director

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The National Institutes of Health announced the selection of three new members of the Advisory Committee to the Director. Since 1966, the ACD has advised the NIH director on policy and planning issues important to the NIH mission of conducting and supporting biomedical and behavioral research, research training, and translating research results for the public.

“These new members to the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director will bring an even greater depth and range of expertise to this dedicated team of advisers,” said Acting NIH Director Raynard S. Kington, MD, PhD.

The new members of the council are Maria Freire, PhD, of New York; Beatriz Luna, PhD, of Pittsburgh; and James Thrall, MD, of Boston.

Read more about the new members in the release from NIH.