2019 Executive of the Year
Maria C. Freire, PhD
President and Executive Director
Foundation for the National Institutes of Health
A Latina leader with more than 35 years of experience in business and biomedicine, Maria C. Freire, PhD, has devoted her career and life to the nonprofit sector. With expertise in technology commercialization and intellectual property management in support of human health, she focuses on discovery development and access to medical interventions—diagnostics, drugs and vaccines—for public good.
In addition to her role as president and executive director of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), she is also an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine and Council on Foreign Relations, a charitable organization chartered by Congress to support the mission of the NIH by raising private sector funds, providing scientific expertise and administering biomedical research programs for a wide range of health challenges.
Maria oversees a team that builds and nurtures alliances with the government, academia, nonprofits, industry and individual donors in a pre- or non-competitive environment that would otherwise not be possible.
Under Maria’s leadership, a few of the many milestones FNIH achieved were launching with the NIH the $215 million Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies to advance immunotherapy treatments to attack cancer; raising $12 million from the private sector to expand the renowned Accelerating Medicines Partnership to a fourth area of focus: Parkinson’s disease; releasing the “Framework for Defining Evidentiary Criteria for Biomarker Qualification,” which included input from 200 scientific leaders, as a tool to access the level of evidence needed to support formal regulatory qualification of biological markers at the FDA; and advancing 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
Beyond her official positions, she is active in the Peruvian American Endowment that supports programs of medical and paramedical education at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, coordinating help to victims of the devastating floods in Peru in 2017. She is also a founding member of WomenAgainstAlzheimers and is a mentor to young
“[Maria] has an impressive history of leading [nonprofit] organizations to fuel innovative approaches to medicine that improve the quality of people’s lives. This is why [she] deserves the title of NonProfit PRO’s Executive of the Year,” Abbey Meltzer, VP of communications at the FNIH, said.
To see the winners in the remaining categories, click here.