When Robert Kraft donated $20 million to advance the growing field of precision medicine last November, he chose not a medical school but Harvard Business School.
The idea was to bring a more business-like focus to precision medicine, an approach in which patients receive personalized medical treatments based on their genes, lifestyles and other factors.
That's in line with how Kathy Giusti has spent her career. Giusti is a cancer survivor who founded and ran the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation of Norwalk, Conn., and still sits on the foundation's board.
Now Giusti, who's also a veteran of the pharmaceutical industry and an HBS alum, is co-chairing Kraft's precision medicine initiative.
Giusti said she's working on a three-year business plan that lays out specific goals for what's now called the Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator. The initiative was launched to find ways to reduce the costs of clinical trials for personalized treatments, and to foster collaboration between researchers and the pharmaceutical industry to help bring treatments to market.
"What we learned at the [multiple myeloma foundation] is when you create a common goal and you create a plan and you drive it with strong leadership, there is nothing you can't accomplish," Giusti said.
Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, said in a news release that "the promise of precision medicine will only be realized if we abandon a siloed approach to research and work collaboratively toward a greater good – two approaches Kathy Giusti has embraced and advocated in her nearly two decades of service to the cancer community."
The initiative kicked off with its first big meeting at HBS this week, where attendees included Robert Kraft and his son Jonathan, HBS leaders and professors, and representatives from several research institutes and tech companies.