Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., to Retire as President and CEO of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
After 17 years on The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society executive leadership team, DeGennaro will leave a legacy of advancement and growth for the largest nonprofit blood cancer organization
Rye Brook, N.Y., May 5, 2022 – The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) announced today the intent of Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., president and CEO, to retire in June 2023. The LLS board of directors will begin a comprehensive search for the next CEO and president, with DeGennaro to assist in the transition.
“Seventeen years ago, I made a lifechanging decision to join LLS, fueled by my desire to work at a mission driven organization where I could have greater impact on the day-to-day lives of blood cancer patients and their families,” DeGennaro said. “Since then, I have been fortunate, and humbled, to work in leadership roles at LLS—as vice president of research, Chief Mission Officer, and since 2014 as CEO—working alongside dedicated staff and volunteers to lift the organization to new heights, grow resources and improve the quality of life for blood cancer patients and their families. The experience has often brought me both joy and sorrow: joy when we save a life and sorrow when a life is lost to blood cancer.”
DeGennaro joined the LLS executive leadership team as vice president of research in 2005 with extensive research, drug development and executive management experience in the academic and private sectors. He was named LLS chief mission officer in 2009, leading LLS's research, patient education and support, public policy, and advocacy efforts. He was appointed president and CEO in September 2014.
During his tenure, DeGennaro helped LLS increase its annual total revenue by 60%, from $300 million to nearly $500 million today, driving groundbreaking research, providing critical education services, working to break down barriers through public policy and investing deeply in a better future for blood cancer patients and their families.
“As the second longest-running president and CEO of LLS, Dr. DeGennaro’s contributions in the past eight years to the organization and its people, and most importantly the blood cancer community, cannot be underestimated,” said LLS Board of Directors Chair Ralph E. Lawson. “And over the past two years, as the world faced a pandemic, and the fundraising industry was turned upside down, Lou’s calm and unwavering leadership steered LLS to not only hold steady but grow and increase our support to blood cancer patients when they needed it most. On behalf of the entire board, I offer my sincere gratitude to Lou and wish him the best in his journey. LLS would not be where we are today without his vision, leadership and commitment to advancing blood cancer research and care.”
“I know that our executive leadership team will continue the momentum we have created together,” DeGennaro said. “I am confident in the future of this organization and optimistic in its ability to grow under the guidance of leadership and staff, in partnership with patients and their families and all who share in our mission.”
As part of LLS's cures and access agenda, DeGennaro conceived and pioneered LLS’s Therapy Acceleration Program® (TAP), one of the most successful venture philanthropy programs in the world. Since its establishment in 2007, TAP has invested more than $125 million in over 70 projects aimed at accelerating blood cancer therapeutics capable of changing the standard of care in leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. LLS also recognized the early promise of CAR T-cell immunotherapy, overseeing LLS’s investment in the revolutionary treatment approach beginning in the 1990s. LLS went on to invest more than $50 million over the next two decades, awarding grants to researchers at academic labs worldwide – including the immunotherapy pioneer Dr. Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania – and helping to move the cutting-edge idea from bench to bedside.
Under DeGennaro’s leadership, LLS launched its groundbreaking precision medicine Beat AML® Master Clinical Trial in October 2016, leading the offensive against acute myeloid leukemia (AML), one of the deadliest blood cancers. The success of the trial, which harnessed advanced genomics to match patients with the most promising, targeted therapies, is helping pave the way to transform pediatric blood cancer treatment and care through the LLS Children’s Initiative.
“I am often asked what I’m most proud of at LLS: first and foremost, it’s the people – staff and volunteers,” reflected DeGennaro. “People drawn from every walk of life, united in our mission. I am equally proud of LLS’s entrepreneurial spirit – the willingness to take calculated risks to drive the best outcomes for cancer patients.”
In addition to providing leadership and vision for the organization and his staff, DeGennaro has been committed to keeping a significant constituency of volunteers motivated and dedicated to the organization. He has overseen a breadth of national fundraising campaigns, including the iconic Team In Training® and Light The Night®, and worked closely with LLS leadership to a drive a successful shift in expanding fundraising methods and engagement as the organization and advocacy landscape evolve.
About Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D.
DeGennaro has devoted his career to saving lives through drug discovery, first in academic research, and later directing drug development at several pharmaceutical companies. With more than 25 years of experience in the academic and private sectors, he has served at the perfect intersection of science and patient care at LLS, overseeing the funding of cutting-edge research, supporting patients and engaging in patient advocacy work.
After earning his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of California at San Francisco, DeGennaro completed his post-doctoral research at the Yale University School of Medicine. His previous academic appointments include research group leader, Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany – where his laboratory was among the first to clone genes expressed exclusively in the nervous system – and associate professor of neurology and cell biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School. His previous private sector appointments included senior director, Molecular Genetics, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, and executive vice president, Synex Pharmaceuticals.
DeGennaro is the author of more than 40 scientific publications and is an inventor on three patents, including the development of a point-of-care diagnostic test for congestive heart failure and an FDA-cleared test for the diagnosis and treatment of AIDS/HIV.
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is a global leader in the fight against blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world; provides free information and support services; and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, New York, LLS has regional offices throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit www.LLS.org. Patients should contact the LLS Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.
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The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society