Search past winners/finalists

Foundation for the National Institutes of Health - Woman of the Year


Gold Stevie Award Winner 2016, Click to Enter The 2017 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

Company: Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
Company Description: The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health creates and leads alliances and public-private partnerships that advance breakthrough biomedical discoveries and improve the quality of people’s lives.
Nomination Category: Individual Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Woman of the Year - Government or Non-Profit

Nomination Title: Maria C. Freire, Ph.D., President and Executive Director, Foundation for the National Institutes of Health

Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated woman since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words):

A Latina leader with over 35 years of experience in business and biomedicine, Maria C. Freire, Ph.D. serves as President and Executive Director of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) and is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine and Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Freire is an expert in global health, technology commercialization and intellectual property management, focusing on the discovery, development and access to medical interventions for public good.

Dr. Freire’s insight is widely sought by leaders around the world. She recently was called upon by former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to serve as the only U.S. member of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on Promoting Innovation and Access to Health Technologies. The Panel issued the September 2016 report that explored new approaches to health technology innovation so that all people can benefit from medical advances.

Since then, Dr. Freire has been a featured speaker at the Sustainable Development Goals Academy and the Association of American Medical Colleges. Upon request, she also held several Capitol Hill meetings to discuss the FNIH as a model example of a foundation that supports a government agency.

The FNIH was chartered by Congress to advance biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). To fulfill this mission, Dr. Freire oversees a team of scientists and fundraisers who build and nurture alliances with government, academia, industry and individual donors in a pre-or non-competitive environment that would otherwise not be possible.

During Dr. Freire’s tenure, the FNIH has been established as a go-to organization for the creation of biomedical public-private partnerships and as a model for other foundations. Her leadership has garnered the FNIH consistent four-star ratings by Charity Navigator, in 2016 attaining the highest ranking of 100% from this watchdog organization. Additionally, in early 2017, the FNIH reached the milestone of raising more than $1 billion from the private sector to make health discoveries possible.

Recent FNIH accomplishments made under Dr. Freire’s leadership include:

-Raised $14 million from the private sector to fight Alzheimer’s disease through the third phase of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.
-Released the “Framework for Defining Evidentiary Criteria for Biomarker Qualification,” which included input from 200 scientific leaders, as a tool to assess the level of evidence needed to support formal regulatory qualification of biological markers at the FDA.
-Advanced two novel technologies for preventing the spread of mosquito-borne diseases (Dengue virus and malaria) to field testing through a longstanding partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
-Brought together international experts to explore the complex regulatory and ethical issues surrounding mosquito modification technology and developed consensus to guide future research and regulations.
-Continued building a critical pipeline of clinician scientists by supporting more than five training programs and fellowships at the NIH.

Beyond work at the FNIH, Dr. Freire is active on several Boards, including serving as a Director of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. and the Chair of the Business Advisory Board, Barcelona Institute for Research in Biomedicine. A Lima native, Dr. Freire helped with international aid to assist victims of the devastating floods in Peru in March 2017.

Provide a brief biography of the nominated woman (up to 125 words):

Dr. Maria Freire is the President and Executive Director of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH). Prior to her tenure, Dr. Freire was President of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, where she established programmatic initiatives that expanded the brand and reach of the foundation. She also previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, a product development partnership for drugs to fight tuberculosis, and directed the NIH Office of Technology Transfer. Dr. Freire received a Ph.D. in Biophysics from the University of Virginia (UVA) and completed post-graduate work in immunology and virology at UVA and at the University of Tennessee, respectively, and at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.