Dr. David Fajgenbaum, MD, MBA, MSc, FCPP, is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network (CDCN), Assistant Professor of Medicine in Translational Medicine & Human Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania, and Associate Director, Patient Impact for the Penn Orphan Disease Center. Dr. Fajgenbaum is also a patient battling idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease (iMCD). As common as ALS and as deadly as lymphoma, iMCD involves the immune system attacking and shutting down the body’s vital organs (liver, kidneys, bone marrow, heart). He became ill during his third year of medical school in 2010, spent five months hospitalized, had his last rites read, and has had four deadly relapses since. In 2012, Dr. Fajgenbaum began conducting Castleman disease research at Penn and co-founded the CDCN, through which he has spearheaded the “Collaborative Network Approach.” He currently leads 18 translational research studies, including an international natural history study and the first-ever NIH R01 grant studying iMCD. As a result of his work, Fajgenbaum is currently in his longest remission ever thanks to a treatment that he identified, which had never been used for iMCD. He recently described his journey in his highly-acclaimed memoir, Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope Into Action, one of the “Best Nonfiction Books of 2019” according to the Next Big Ideas Club, curated by Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, Adam Grant, and Susan Cain.
Check out the below video for a TED-style talk by Dr. Fajgenbaum about his battle, the CDCN, and how his business-inspired approach to research is becoming a model for accelerating biomedical research during the 2017 FasterCures Summit.