Leadership Team

David Fajgenbaum


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 the Castleman Research Program at Penn as PI of 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 (click here for a video describing this), which had never been used for iMCD. Check out the below video or click here for a TED-style talk by Dr. Fajgenbaum about his battle and the CDCN during the 2017 Forbes Healthcare Summit.

His 2014 publication in the journal, Blood, initiated a paradigm shift in the iMCD disease model and classification system. He has co-authored several key papers including two in The Lancet Haematology on iMCD and the “The Collaborative Network” approach as well as the largest-ever series on the newly-described TAFRO Syndrome in the American Journal of Hematology, the first-ever diagnostic criteria for iMCD in the journal, Blood and a systematic evaluation of serum proteins in iMCD in the American Journal of Hematology. He is applying business-inspired solutions to drive forward iMCD research and working to turn this innovative model into a blueprint for accelerating rare disease research.

Before the CDCN, Dr. Fajgenbaum co-founded the National Students of AMF Support Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting college students grieving the illness or death of a loved one. Since 2006, the nonprofit has launched over 200 campus chapters and supported over 3,000 grieving students. He recently co-authored a book, “We Get It: Voices of Grieving College Students and Young Adults.”

Dr. Fajgenbaum’s work has been highlighted by the New York Times, Science, the Today Show (and the Today Show for AMF), Reader’s Digest, and Forbes Magazine’s 2015 30 Under 30 list for Healthcare. He is the youngest Fellow ever elected to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia since its founding in 1787. He received the 2013 Distinguished Service Award from the University of Colorado, 2015 RARE Champion of Hope: Science award by Global Genes, 2016 RareVoice: Federal Advocacy Award from Rare Disease Legislative Advocates, and the honor of giving the 2017 Georgetown University Senior Convocation.

Dr. Fajgenbaum received an MBA from The Wharton School, where he was the Irwin D. Mandel Fellow, William Kissick Scholarship, Joseph Wharton Award, Eilers Health Care Management Award recipient, and Commencement Speaker. He earned his MD from the Raymond & Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a 21st Century Gamble Scholar. He studied for a Masters (MSc) in Public Health from the University of Oxford as the 2007 Joseph L. Allbritton Scholar. He received a BS in Human Sciences with Distinction from Georgetown University during which time he was a Rhodes Scholar finalist and awarded USA Today’s 2007 Academic All-American First-team honors.

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