Jeffrey Brewer President & CEO
After many years as an active JDRF volunteer, Jeffrey Brewer became JDRF’s president and CEO in 2010. As a volunteer, he supported his local New York City Chapter as a member of its Board of Directors, and he completed two terms on the JDRF International Board of Directors, where he also served as a member of the Research Committee and was Chair of the volunteer oversight body for the Artificial Pancreas Project. Jeffrey’s involvement with JDRF grows out of personal experience as the father of a son diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age seven. He is committed to doing all that he can to free his son—and the millions of people like him around the world—from the daily burden of T1D.
Jeffrey brings to JDRF a dynamic background as a successful internet entrepreneur and dedicated philanthropist. After graduating from Southern Methodist University, Jeffrey built two companies in the mid to late 1990s, CitySearch.com and Overture Services (formerly known as GoTo.com), from innovative start-ups into thriving publicly traded technology leaders. He then became Chairman of KickStart International, an award-winning nonprofit organization providing desperately poor but motivated entrepreneurs, primarily in East Africa, with the tools to design, market and implement simple, sustainable income-producing businesses.
As CEO, Jeffrey strongly believes that JDRF is in a unique position to leverage its tremendous scientific progress and increased understanding of T1D to achieve two core goals: 1) rapidly accelerate the research toward a cure, and 2) play a lynchpin role in the development and delivery of transformative therapies and treatments to improve the lives of people with T1D. Jeffrey’s vision is that one day we will eliminate T1D entirely as a result of JDRF’s leadership.
In the last three years, Jeffrey has increased JDRF’s impact on T1D on a number of fronts, including growing its fundraising programs, accelerating and strengthening government advocacy to sustain federal funding for T1D research, breaking down regulatory barriers that hinder therapeutic innovation and funding, driving cutting-edge scientific research programs, and establishing meaningful partnerships that extend JDRF’s influence on T1D research across both the academic and industry landscapes.
Under Jeffrey’s leadership, JDRF has a plan to bring a continuous flow of life-changing therapies to patients with the goal of keeping people with T1D healthy and safe on the way to a cure and a future when T1D is spoken about in the past tense.
David E. Wheadon, M.D. Executive Vice President, Research and Advocacy
David E. Wheadon, M.D., is the executive vice president of research and advocacy, overseeing all aspects of JDRF’s efforts to accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of life-changing therapies for type 1 diabetes.
Prior to joining JDRF, Dr. Wheadon served as senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, providing strategic leadership in setting the scientific and regulatory advocacy agenda for the biopharmaceutical industry while also building and strengthening collaborative alliances.
Throughout his career, Dr. Wheadon has been a recognized leader in R&D, with excellent experience in drug development and translational research, regulatory and medical affairs, and patient advocacy. Working in leadership roles with major pharmaceutical companies, Dr. Wheadon was integral to the successful development and approval of several important drugs for central nervous system diseases, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and diseases in other therapeutic areas. Dr. Wheadon began his career as a clinical research physician at Eli Lilly and Company and has served as vice president of global pharmaceutical regulatory and medical sciences at Abbott Laboratories and senior vice president of U.S. regulatory affairs at GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals. Through his various roles, Dr. Wheadon has worked with many government agencies around the globe and has worked extensively with the U.S. regulatory agencies. He also has represented pharmaceutical research companies in various public forums, including testifying before Congress.
Dr. Wheadon received his medical doctorate from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed his postgraduate training in psychiatry at Tufts-New England Medical Center.
Richard A. Insel, M.D. Chief Scientific Officer, Research
Richard A. Insel, M.D., is the chief scientific officer for JDRF, where he has responsibility for heading up the strategic direction and oversight of all JDRF research projects.
Dr. Insel has had a distinguished medical and research career in pediatric immunology. Prior to joining JDRF in 2003, he held various leadership positions at the University of Rochester Medical Center during a 26-year tenure there. Dr. Insel was the founding director of the Center for Human Genetics and Molecular Pediatric Disease and a member of the departments of pediatrics and microbiology & immunology. Among other responsibilities, Dr. Insel served as acting chair of pediatrics; professor of pediatrics, microbiology & immunology, and the Cancer Center; associate chair for pediatric research; director of the Strong Children’s Research Center; and chief of the Division of Pediatric Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology.
Dr. Insel was the scientific co-founder of Praxis Biologics, a biotechnology company established in 1983 and subsequently acquired by Wyeth, the global pharmaceutical and health care products company. Praxis Biologics was responsible for bringing a new vaccine to market that resulted in the virtual elimination of the most common form of childhood meningitis among American infants and children.
Dr. Insel has served on the National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council of the National Institutes of Health. He has been a visiting associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, a fellow in pediatrics (research) at Harvard Medical School, and a fellow in medicine (immunology) at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston. He also served in the Laboratory of Parasitic Immunochemistry at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
James Szmak Chief Operating Officer
James Szmak is the chief operating officer at JDRF, where he is responsible for the core operations of the organization including Fundraising, Development and Business Operations, Marketing, Communications, and Information Technology.
Mr. Szmak joined JDRF in 2009 as the vice president and chief information officer and was promoted to COO in 2013. He has been instrumental in leading the effort to update JDRF’s business systems and processes that support JDRF fundraising, advocacy, and research. In addition, he has enhanced the technology at our 100 field offices to deliver advanced web-based fundraising systems for staff and supporters alike. Also, our fundraisers, advocates, and researchers now have access to real-time information provided by the new systems and business processes.
Prior to joining JDRF, James had a successful 20-year career with several technology firms, including Cisco, 3Com, Salire, and Oracle, where he held a variety of roles ranging from sales executive to vice president of operations. Prior to his career in Silicon Valley, James worked with several firms in the aerospace field on projects that support national security.
Cynthia Rice Senior Vice President, Advocacy and Policy
Cynthia Rice is the senior vice president of advocacy and policy at JDRF, where she manages JDRF’s legislative and grassroots programs as well as initiatives to accelerate access to new therapies.
Ms. Rice joined JDRF in September 2005 and was promoted to director of new technology access in January 2006. She has been a major catalyst for accelerating JDRF’s Artificial Pancreas Project, leading a cross-departmental staff team in implementing the program’s research, government relations, communications, and development goals.
Ms. Rice has extensive experience leading complicated advocacy projects in both the government and nonprofit sectors. In President Clinton’s White House from 1997 to 2000, she served as a special assistant to the president for domestic policy, coordinating numerous high-profile policy initiatives involving experts from multiple agencies and employing various legislative, regulatory, and communications tactics.
In the mid 1990s, she served in the U.S. Senate as a legislative assistant to two senior members of the Finance Committee, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Senator John B. Breaux, helping to advance and amend a variety of budget, health, and domestic policy legislation.
From 2001 to 2005, Ms. Rice served as vice president for policy at the New Democrat Network, where she led efforts to promote the group’s policy agenda to elected officials and the public.
Ms. Rice received an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a master’s in public policy from the University of California at Berkeley.
Julia L. Greenstein, Ph.D. Vice President, Cure Therapies
Julia Greenstein is currently the vice president of cure therapies. The Cure Therapies group at JDRF is responsible for the beta cell replacement and regeneration and imaging portfolio and the immune therapies portfolio at JDRF, the leading nonprofit nongovernmental funder of international research in type 1 diabetes.
She has more than 20 years of experience in the corporate biotechnology arena. She was the chief executive officer and president of Immerge BioTherapeutics, a Novartis Pharma/BioTransplant joint venture focused on the development of pig xenotransplantation for clinical practice. Prior to that, she held the roles chief scientific officer and senior vice president of research at BioTransplant Incorporated and vice president of discovery research at ImmuLogic Pharmaceutical Corp.
Dr. Greenstein serves on the Board of Directors of the MGH Institute of Health Professions and the Mass BioEd Foundation and was on the Board of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council and the Massachusetts Society for Medical Research.
She received her Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Rochester Medical School based on work in the laboratory of Philippa Marrack, Ph.D. She did postdoctoral training at the University of Rochester Medical School and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Greenstein was an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Aaron J. Kowalski, Ph.D. Vice President, Treatment Therapies
Dr. Kowalski oversees JDRF-funded research aimed at accelerating the delivery of therapies that will help keep people healthy while living with diabetes and minimize their risk for developing diabetes complications, as well as treatments that will help those who have developed diabetic complications. Dr. Kowalski is an internationally recognized expert in the area of diabetes technologies and has been a leader since its inception in 2005 of the JDRF Artificial Pancreas Project, a multimillion-dollar initiative aimed at accelerating progress towards a closed-loop automated insulin-delivery system and diabetes technologies that will improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. He has published numerous articles in the field, including co-authoring the landmark New England Journal of Medicine publication demonstrating the effectiveness of continuous glucose monitors in type 1 diabetes. Dr. Kowalski has been an invited speaker at the ADA Annual Scientific Sessions, EASD, AACE, AADE and many other national and international conferences and was the keynote speaker at the 2008 Diabetes Technology Society Meeting.
Dr. Kowalski has traveled widely across North America and abroad describing diabetes research progress and is known for his ability to translate complicated science into easily understandable concepts. He has been a voice for diabetes research in the popular press, appearing on The Martha Stewart Show, dLife, Fox Business, NPR and many others and is often quoted in print media including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and People magazine.
Prior to joining JDRF he completed his Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
In 1977, at the age of three, Dr. Kowalski’s brother Stephen was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and in 1984, at the age of thirteen, he, too, was diagnosed with type 1. It is their collective experiences over the past 30+ years that provide the daily motivation to fight for a cure.