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 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.

Dr. Fajgenbaum is in the top 1 percent youngest grant awardees of an R01, one of the most competitive and sought-after grants in all of biomedical research and the first federal grant awarded for iMCD ever. Dr. Fajgenbaum has been recognized on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, as a top healthcare leader by Becker’s Hospital Review, the recipient of the Global Genes RARE Champion of Hope: Science award and RareVoice: Federal Advocacy Award from Rare Disease Legislative Advocates, and one of the youngest people ever elected as a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the nation’s oldest medical society. He was one of three recipients–including Vice President Joe Biden–of a 2016 Atlas Award from the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia. Before co-founding the CDCN, Dr. Fajgenbaum co-founded and led the Actively Moving Forward Support Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting grieving college students. Dr. Fajgenbaum has been profiled in a cover story by The New York Times as well as by Good Morning America, CNN, Science, and the Today Show. Dr. Fajgenbaum earned a BS from Georgetown University magna cum laude with honors and distinction, MSc from the University of Oxford as the 2007 Joseph L. Allbritton Scholar, MD from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School as a 21st Century Gamble Scholar, and 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 is a former Division I college quarterback, state-champion weight lifter, and co-founder of a national grief support network.

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