Joshua  Sommer

Joshua Sommer

2013 Honoree

Founder, Charitable Foundation

In 2006, Joshua Sommer was diagnosed with a skull-base chordoma, a disease with a 30 percent cure rate, no approved drugs and an average seven-year survival rate.

Unwilling to accept the dismal odds of recovery and the limited treatment options available to chordoma patients, Joshua went to work at the only federally-funded chordoma research program in the nation — the Duke University laboratory of Michael Kelley, MD. Joshua was soon confronted with the challenges that were hindering chordoma research: insufficient funding; scarcity of tissue, cell lines and animal models; and isolation from professional peers.

One year after his diagnosis, Joshua and his mother founded the Chordoma Foundation and as executive director, he has led endeavors to connect, expand and support the global chordoma research community. In the seven years since his diagnosis, Joshua, now age 25, has transformed the field, organizing conferences, initiating and funding research projects, and counseling fellow patients.

Joshua has raised $3.5 million to advance chordoma research at 11 laboratories nationwide, including two at Mass General. He was featured by Forbes Magazine in its 2012 roster of “30 Under 30: The Rising Stars Transforming Science and Health.”

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