Norwalk, CT & Burlington, VT—May 17, 2015— Kathy Giusti, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and a long time New Canaan resident, delivered the 214th Commencement Address to the graduating class of the University of Vermont (UVM) College of Life Sciences and Agriculture on May 17, 2015. Giusti graduated from UVM in 1980 and received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters in 2013. She received her MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1985.
Giusti spoke to a vibrant group of over 1,000 graduates, their family and friends, about preparing for the unexpected in life, and transforming these unexpected moments into the opportunities that will shape the future.
“The secret is seeing opportunities when they knock on your door, being prepared to act on them, build on them, grow with them. The secret is allowing them to transform you. And, trust me, those opportunities will arrive unexpectedly. I never expected a fatal cancer diagnosis at age 37, but it allowed us to revolutionize cancer research,” Giusti said.
Giusti is a multiple myeloma patient. She was diagnosed with this rare and fatal blood cancer just under 20 years ago. In 1998, upon being told that she had only 3 years to live, and that there were no viable treatment options available and none in the drug research pipeline, she founded the MMRF with her twin sister, Karen Andrews. Since then, Giusti has led the Foundation in establishing innovative and groundbreaking research models to dramatically accelerate the pace at which lifesaving treatments are brought to patients. Today, Giusti is widely recognized as a cancer warrior, a champion of change, and a strong advocate for patient engagement, not only in their cancer care, but as part of the research and drug development process.
Giusti’s visionary leadership has earned her several prestigious awards and recognitions. Most recently, she was ranked #19 on Fortune Magazine’s Worlds’ 50 Greatest Leaders list. In 2013, she was named an Open Science Champion of Change by the White House. In 2011, she was named to the TIME 100 List of the World’s Most Influential People.
Giusti currently serves on President Obama’s Precision Medicine Working Group, the Executive Management Committee of Stand Up to Cancer and the Harvard Business School Healthcare Advisory Board.
About Multiple Myeloma (MM)
Multiple myeloma (MM) 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 MM in 2014 and an estimated 11,090 people are predicted to die from the disease. The five-year survival rate for MM 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 $275 million since its inception and directs nearly 90% of total budget to research and related programming.