The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) was founded in 1998 by identical twin sisters Kathy Giusti and Karen Andrews soon after Kathy was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. With limited research funding, no effective treatments, and few clinical trials in the pipeline, the life expectancy of the rare and fatal cancer was just three years.
Though there was little hope for patients at the time, Kathy was determined to beat the odds and help raise her 1-year-old daughter, Nicole. She enlisted Karen’s help to form a research foundation that could overcome the challenges slowing the development of new treatments and improve the outlook for patients with multiple myeloma.
Fortunately, Kathy and Karen had the business acumen needed to start what would become one of today’s most innovative research foundations. Kathy, a graduate of Harvard Business School, had two decades of experiences in the pharmaceutical industry. Karen was a corporate attorney. Together, they founded the MMRF with the same business principles—speed, innovation, and results—they embraced at the Fortune 500 companies where they had risen through the ranks.
From its inception, the MMRF has been uniquely focused on building collaborative research models to quicken the pace of scientific inquiry and get patients the lifesaving treatments they desperately needed. It is widely recognized as having transformed the treatment landscape for multiple myeloma patients, dramatically extending patients’ survival. It now stands as a new paradigm for other research groups seeking to catalyze progress in other cancers and rare diseases.
In 2006, Kathy underwent a stem cell transplant with Karen serving as her donor; and, with the help of the drugs the MMRF developed, she has remained in remission. She lives in Connecticut, with her husband, Paul, Nicole, and her son, David, who is 17-years-old. Her daughter, Nicole, is now 20-years-old and a student at Boston College. Karen too lives in Connecticut and has three children who are headed off to college.
Today, Kathy serves as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors for the MMRF. Karen also serves on the Board of Directors of the MMRF. Their sustained leadership continues to guide and inspire the MMRF’s drive toward a cure.