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    Sujuan Ba, Ph.D.

  • About Dr. Sujuan Ba

    One of the Top Leaders for Cancer Research

    Dr. Sujuan Ba currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR), co-founded in 1973 by Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi and the lawyer/entrepreneur Franklin Salisbury, Sr. NFCR provides scientists in the labs the funding they need to make game-changing discoveries in cancer treatments, detection, prevention, and ultimately, a cure for all types of cancer in the US and internationally. NFCR is one of few charities willing to take risks and fund the most innovative ideas in cancer research before anybody shows any interest. These new ideas often open critical new fields in cancer research. Since its inception, NFCR has distinguished itself in the cancer research community by funding high-risk, high-impact, long-term, and transformative research programs with the help of more than 5.3 million individual donors.

     

    At NFCR, Dr. Ba oversees the strategic direction and implementation of NFCR’s scientific funding, global strategic partnership & alliances, public fundraising, and financial planning. Under Dr. Ba’s leadership, NFCR has established a robust network of cancer researchers in the United States, Europe, and Asia allowing NFCR-funded scientists to work collaboratively across disciplinary, institutional, and geographic boundaries on a wide array of innovative basic and translational cancer research. Significant and impactful international collaborative programs have emerged from this cross-institution collaborative approach.

     

    Under the leadership of Dr. Ba, NFCR has established the annual Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research, an international prize in recognition of outstanding scientific achievement in the war against cancer. She has served continuously as co-chair of the Prize Selection Committee, consisting of key opinion leaders of cancer research from academic and biotech/pharmaceutical communities. The prize has now grown into one of the premier cancer research awards in the world.

     

    Another one of the earlier highest-profile and significant research programs to emerge from the international collaborative network was the creation of the ScreenSaver-LifeSaver Project. Dr. Ba established a partnership between NFCR, United Devices, Inc., Intel Corporation, and Oxford University in the United Kingdom to launch a distributed computing technology-based application, which sped up the drug screening process by linking together more than 3 million PC users around the world to create the world’s largest supercomputer. This program enabled scientists to perform virtual screenings of 3.5 billion small molecules against some twelve target proteins to identify new anti-cancer drug candidates. The project cut the lengthy drug discovery process for many potential cancer therapies. InhibOx, a spin-off company out of the University of Oxford (now the company name changed to Oxford Drug Design Ltd), was established in 2002 out of this initiative to commercialize the technology and drug screening platform. This program was written up as one of the innovations by Shira P. White in her book, New Ideas about New Ideas, Insights on Creativity from the World’s Leading Innovations in 2002. The program was also featured in the book Entrepreneurship: a case study from two viewpoints by Graham Richards and Tony Marchington.

     

    In 2019 Dr. Ba co-founded the AIM-HI Accelerator Fund (AIM-HI) and has served as its CEO. Spun out of NFCR, AIM-HI is shifting the paradigm for both charitable giving and impact investing. It funds start-up oncology companies, supporting innovative laboratory breakthroughs that have the potential to save the lives of cancer patients.

     

    This new funding paradigm is uniquely designed to supercharge the groundbreaking translational research programs and the transformative early-stage oncology start-ups to bring new therapies and diagnostic tools to patients while potentially generating sustainable revenues for future cancer research. Since AIM-HI’s inception, almost two dozen oncology start-ups have received the critically needed seed investments.

     

    Dr. Ba has also led the establishment of AIM-HI Women’s Venture Competiton in 2020, a first-of-its-kind program that provides investment, coaching, and networking opportunities to women-led oncology start-ups. More than 200 women-led oncology start-ups have gone through the rigorous review and selection process of the Women’s Venture Competition platform.

     

    Dr. Ba has played an integral role in the inception, development, and ongoing operation of GBM AGILE, or Glioblastoma Adaptive Global Innovative Learning Environment, in the relentless battle against glioblastoma (GBM), a devastating and universally fatal brain cancer. Initially conceived in 2003 by Drs. Anna Barker, Webster Cavenee, and W.K. Alfred Yung, GBM AGILE was launched through the collaborative efforts of over 150 global pioneers across more than 40 leading institutions. Dr. Ba co-founded the Global Coalition for Adaptive Research (GCAR) with several world-renowned leaders in brain cancer research in 2017. GCAR’s charter is to lead the approval and global implementation of the master protocol trial of GBM AGILE.

     

    GBM AGILE is revolutionizing the way therapies are evaluated for GBM patients. Traditional clinical trials typically test one treatment against the standard-of-care or placebo, resulting in a lengthy and expensive development path. In contrast, GBM AGILE is an adaptive platform trial, allowing multiple drugs to be assessed concurrently and incorporating real-time data to make real-time adjustments. This approach optimizes the allocation of patients and time. It promises to seamlessly transition drugs into a confirmatory stage designed to facilitate new approvals while swiftly identifying underperforming candidates.

     

    This groundbreaking design significantly accelerates the pace and lowers the cost of drug development. It also expands trial design to require fewer patients and shorter time frames to gauge a drug’s effectiveness, offering patients newfound hope. GBM AGILE is now open at 60 sites in 6 countries with 6 new agents in the system with more to come soon. GBM AGILE has screened over 1900 patients as of today, with enrollment rates 3 to 4 times greater than traditional GBM studies. The learning of the GBM AGILE platform and the master protocol is being expanded to other rare yet lethal diseases, such as pancreatic and ovarian cancer.

     

    Dr. Ba also founded the Asian Fund for Cancer Research (AFCR) in 2005. AFCR is a non-profit organization headquartered in Hong Kong committed to investigating the distinct causes of cancer in Asian populations and developing more effective therapies for cancers prevalent in Asia. Dr. Ba provides strategic vision and guidance for AFCR’s collaborative research initiatives and public prevention programs in Hong Kong, Greater China, and Asia. Under Dr. Ba’s leadership, AFCR has now launched the BRACE Award (Bridging Research from Academia to Cancer Entrepreneurship Award) to identify and catalyze the translational process from early-stage cancer discovery. About 100 innovative oncology projects/companies have gone through the review process and received insightful feedback, recognition, and/or investment funding through the BRACE Award Venture Competition platform.

     

    Dr. Ba has served on the Women in Science Committee of CRS (Control Release Society) since 2017. She is also a Member of Springboard’s Life Science Council, a group of experts worldwide in biotech, pharma, medical devices, and health IT who invest their “human capital” in Springboard’s pipeline of high-growth, women-led companies. She currently serves as a scientific advisor or a board member for more than half a dozen oncology start-ups. She is the former President of the Chinese Biopharmaceutical Association (2010-2011) and a lifetime member of BayHelix, an invitation-only organization of leaders of Chinese origin involved globally in life sciences and health.

     

    This year, Dr. Ba has been honored with the "2024 Pioneer in Medicine Award" by the World Brain Mapping Foundation and the Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics, which recognized her leadership and highlighted her pioneering spirit in the global fight against cancer. In 2023, she was awarded the Leadership Award for Global Advocate of Cancer Research by the Hong Kong Biotechnology Organization for the impact she made in advancing cancer treatment, detection, and diagnosis for patients worldwide.

     

    Dr. Ba was awarded one of the “20 Most Inspiring Women Leaders 2022” by The Women Leaders Magazine. Dr. Ba received NBC4 WORKING 4 THE COMMUNITY Award in 2019, recognizing her outstanding achievements as a scientist, leader, and role model in the STEM fields. Dr. Ba also received the inaugural Outstanding Achievement Award from Society for Neuro-Oncology of the Chinese Medical Doctor Association for our outstanding contribution to international cooperation in 2017. She was named one of the “Top 300 Women Leaders in Global Health” in 2015 by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies’ Global Health Programme. She was also awarded the Public Service Award in 2014 from the Chinese Biopharmaceutical Association–USA for her long-term devotion and distinguished service to the global biopharmaceutical community. She was selected to receive the CRS WOMEN IN SCIENCES Award in 2011.

     

    Before joining NFCR, Dr. Ba was the Director of Chiral Chemistry and Fine Chemical Consulting Services at Technology Catalysts International (TCI). She conducted market research, business evaluation, and competitive intelligence for an international clientele of major chemical and pharmaceutical companies. From 1991 to 1997, she was a Principal Research Chemist and then Project Manager of Technology Development and Research Planning at Arco Chemical Company (ARCO).

     

    Dr. Ba received her BS in radiochemistry from Peking University and her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania.

  • About NFCR

    The National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1973 that provides scientists in the lab the funding they need to make game-changing discoveries in cancer treatments, detection, prevention, and, ultimately, a cure. NFCR has distinguished itself in the cancer research sector by emphasizing long-term, transformative research often overlooked by other major funding sources. With the help of more than 5.3 million individual donors over the last 51 years, NFCR has provided $410 million in funding to cancer research, prevention, and public education, leading to several important, life-saving discoveries. Read more about NFCR's impact in 50 Years of Progress, our Special 50th Anniversary publication, here.

    Szent-Györgyi Prize

    The Szent-Györgyi Prize

    for Progress in Cancer Research

    The cancer research community will celebrate Dennis J. Slamon, M.D., Ph.D., from UCLA Health, and his groundbreaking research discoveries that have helped shape the field of precision medicine for breast cancer patients on October 18, 2024, at The Szent-Györgyi Prize Dinner and Award Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

    GBM AGILE

    GBM AGILE

    Dr. Ba co-founded the Global Coalition for Adaptive Research (GCAR) in 2017, and serves as a founding board member. GCAR is a nonprofit organization leading the global implementation of GBM AGILE, the world’s first global adaptive clinical trial platform for glioblastoma (GBM).

  • About AIM-HI

    The AIM-HI Accelerator Fund (AIM-HI) is an independent 501(C)(3) non-profit organization, established with an initial grant from the National Foundation for Cancer Research, with the vision to accelerate the translation of cancer drug discoveries by investing in seed-stage companies. It is a new paradigm through venture philanthropy to fund start-up oncology companies that commercialize innovative laboratory breakthroughs which can potentially save cancer patients’ lives.

     

    Since its inception in 2019, AIM-HI has funded almost two dozen innovative oncology startups and also launched the Women's Venture Competition, a first-of-its-kind competition for female-led cancer-focused startups.

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    Beacon Award for Women Leaders in Oncology

    Please join AIM-HI to recognize, celebrate, and elevate extraordinary women who have significantly impacted cancer patients worldwide through the development and commercialization of novel technologies, advocacy, and/or implementation of public policy. Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2024 winner!

    Women's Venture Competition

    Empowering women entrepreneurs in oncology worldwide

    This annual competition provides women-led, early-stage oncology companies with lifeline funding, critical coaching, and valuable access to our global network. The winning company is eligible to receive up to a $1 million investment from AIM-HI and co-investors, subject to due diligence.

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    Our Portfolio Companies

    Only a small percentage of innovations and discoveries ever make it from research labs into commercial ventures. AIM-HI’s venture philanthropy approach helps the scientist-entrepreneurs focus on the technology while partnering with them to provide the necessary business, financial, legal and infrastructure support from the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

  • About AFCR

    The Asian Fund for Cancer Research Limited (AFCR) is committed to funding cancer research, especially those cancers prevalent in Asian populations, and promoting global collaborations for high impact to save the lives of cancer patients. AFCR also provides the public with a wide variety of in-depth, user-friendly cancer prevention information and healthy lifestyle suggestions.

    BRACE Award Venture Competition

    Bridging Research from Academia to Cancer Entrepreneurship

    This program aims to identify and invest in innovative oncology startups that can impact on cancers prevalent in underserved populations to improve outcomes for patients affected by cancer globally.

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