Using Business Principles to Cure Diseases

A Penn Med/Wharton Alum's Journey to Cure His Disease and Dozens More
Special Interest Speaker Series Event

After David Fajgenbaum (Penn Med ‘13/Wharton ’15) became ill with idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease (iMCD) during his third year of medical school, he spent five months hospitalized with multiple organ system failure, had his last rites read, and needed 7-agent combination chemotherapy to survive. Castleman disease is as rare as ALS, and iMCD is more deadly than lymphoma, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. Following six months of near-death hospitalizations, he was able to return to medical school and focus his attention on helping to build the foundation for a rare disease center at Penn. When he nearly died during a subsequent relapse and the world’s expert couldn’t answer any basic questions about the disease, he decided to dedicate his life to advancing research and treatments for iMCD through establishing the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network (CDCN) and conducting his own research during his last year of medical school.

David quickly observed that the greatest hurdles in the way of finding a cure were actually not medical problems -- they were business problems, such as a lack of an overarching strategy, limited collaboration, and inefficient use of tissue samples and funding. Also, existing research organizations weren’t overcoming these hurdles. In the traditional model, research organizations first raise money and then invite individual researchers to apply to use that funding how those researchers see fit. In contrast, the CDCN built a community of experts, crowd-sourced among the global community to prioritize an international research strategy, and has recruited experts from around the globe to conduct the prioritized projects.

David and his team have made a lot of progress for Castleman disease. In fact, their research has completely flipped the previous understanding of iMCD on its head. But they still have important work to do to improve treatments and survival for patients like David, and they are engaging the Wharton and Penn Med communities to help.

“We’re documenting every step into a blueprint, and once we’ve stomped out Castleman disease, our team will work to apply this blueprint to help many more rare and deadly disorders.” – David Fajgenbaum

Click here for the bio of David Fajgenbaum, MD, MBA, MSc -- Penn Med'13, Wharton'15

Monday, November 9, 2015
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM


Midtown location (Note: Address will be sent via email to all registered guests 24-48 hours prior to the event to the "Primary Email" address listed in your profile. Please review your profile to confirm that the email address listed is correct.)

WNCY Supporting Members - $20 (WCNY supporting membership costs $95/yr at Join/Renew Membership)
Gold & Benefactor Members - $0
Other Wharton Alumni & Guests - $40

Click here to register

Due to building security requirements, you must pre-register for this event.  Walk-ins cannot be accepted.
Registration is subject to availability and will close on Friday, November 6 at 4:00pm Eastern - No Exceptions!