On May 25th, 2011, Kathy Giusti addressed a crowd of nearly 1,000 Harvard MBA graduates at Harvard University’s commencement speech in late May. Kathy herself graduated from Harvard’s business school in 1985 and has since lead a challenging and powerfully inspiring life.
After earning a bachelors degree in biological science from the University of Vermont and and her MBA from Harvard University, Kathy started work at Merck and Gillette. In 1993 she joined G.D. Searle & Co. (which has since been absorbed by Pfizer), where she served as the Executive Director of their worldwide arthritis franchise.
On January 12, 1996, Kathy’s life and trajectory in the business of research was dramatically redirected. She was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and at that time, was told to get her life in order as she would only have a few years to live. Get her life in order she did. Kathy put her tenacity, smarts, and knowledge of the pharmaceutical landscape to good use. In 1998, Kathy, along with her identical twin sister, Karen Andrews founded the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, a nonprofit that “relentlessly pursues innovative means that accelerate the development of next-generation multiple myeloma treatments to extend the lives of patients and lead to a cure.”
When Kathy was diagnosed, she described multiple myeloma as having been a disease that was neglected for decades.
“It had no awareness, no funding,” Giusti said. “The treatments offered in 1996 were the same as in 1956.”
Through 13 years of that relentless pursuit, the nonprofit has raised 165 million dollars for MM research, 4 newly approved drugs for MM have since been approved and Kathy is still in remission.
Kathy has truly lead a heroic life, she has won a number of awards, and was recently named by Time as one of 2011′s most influential people and she continues to inspire others. At the commencement speech at Harvard, she offered a 4-tiered prescription for success:
- Setting a goal you are passionate about and building a plan
- Taking risks (“I was not a risk taker, but when I faced my own mortality, my risk profile changed dramatically.”)
- Persevering, no matter how high and daunting the obstacles (“I have faced chemotherapy, run endless meetings in scarves hiding my bald head, endured a bone marrow transplant and isolation. I travel every week concerned about infections. Through it all, I have persevered and stayed focused on the mission.”)
- Picking your partners wisely (“You must work with people who energize you, who share your dreams.”)
- MMRF Founder/CEO Kathy Giusti Named Time’s 100 Most Influential People
- Trend Setter Twins Kathy Guisti, Karen Andrews and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation
- Kathy Acker and other famous people with Breast Cancer
- Ex-VP Candidate and Myeloma Survivor, Geraldine Ferraro Passes Away
- The Cure Times – April 26th, 2011