David Fajgenbaum, MD, MBA, MSc, is a groundbreaking physician-scientist, disease hunter, speaker, and national bestselling author of the acclaimed memoir, “Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope Into Action.” Best known as the ‘doctor who cured himself’ (‘Doctor Cure Thyself,’ NY Times), Fajgenbaum went from being a beast-like college quarterback to receiving his last rites while in medical school and nearly dying four more times battling Castleman disease, a deadly cytokine storm disorder.
To try to save his own life, he spearheaded an innovative approach to research through the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network (CDCN) and discovered a treatment that has put him into his longest remission ever. This approach is saving his life and other patients’ lives too.
Now, he is spreading this approach to other diseases (‘His method could save millions,’ CNN) like COVID-19 and sharing lessons he learned about living from nearly dying through “Chasing My Cure,” which has been translated into five languages and named one of the “Best Non-Fiction Books of 2019” by Next Big Ideas Club.
One of the youngest individuals ever appointed to the faculty at Penn Medicine and the top one-percent youngest grant awardees of a leading NIH R01 grant, Dr. Fajgenbaum has been recognized on the Forbes ’30 Under 30′ list, as a top healthcare leader by Becker’s Hospital Review, the Global Genes RARE Champion of Hope: Science awardee, and one of three recipients—including Vice President Joe Biden—of a 2016 Atlas Award from the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.
He has published scientific papers in high-impact journals such as Blood, Lancet Haematology, and the Journal of Clinical Investigation, including one that was selected by STAT News in 2020 as one of the best innovations in science and medicine.
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, and the Today Show, among others. Dr. Fajgenbaum earned a BS from Georgetown University magna cum laude with honors and distinction, MSc from the University of Oxford, MD from the University of Pennsylvania, and MBA from The Wharton School. He is a former Division I college quarterback, state-champion weight lifter, and co-founder of a national grief support network.
In this episode we discuss:
- David’s journey with Idiopathic Multicentric Castleman’s Disease, a very rare disease that almost cost him his life, and how after exhausting all treatment options he started researching potential solutions for patients with his disease. He founded the Castleman’s Disease Collaborative Network and, using his own samples, went about trying to find a cure.
- The importance of turning hope into action.
- How COVID-19 and Castleman’s Disease cause the body to respond in a similar ways, and how David’s organization has been a key part of the global effort to discover drugs that can help.
- Their work with tracking previous and potential drugs that could help treat COVID patients
- How timing is so important in COVID drug administration
- Their collaborations with the FDA and UCSF
- FInding silver linings through tough times
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