About DNDi

Born on the frontlines of medical action

About DNDi

Born on the frontlines of medical action

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is an international, not-for-profit research and development organization that develops lifesaving medicines for people with neglected diseases around the world. We use the power of innovation, open science, partnerships, and advocacy to find solutions to a great injustice: the lack of medicines for life-threatening diseases that disproportionately impact poor and marginalized people. 

DNDi was launched in 2003 when five leading research institutes from Brazil, India, Kenya, Malaysia, and France teamed up with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to launch an alternative, not-for-profit model for developing drugs for neglected populations. Together, we are proud to have delivered eleven new treatments for six diseases that have saved millions of lives – and we aim to deliver a total of 25 treatments by 2028.

DNDi has built a team of approximately 250 employees working across nine offices. DNDi North America, created in 2008 and based in New York City, is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit that works to strengthen and expand scientific networks, policy and advocacy influence, partner development, communications, and in particular, fundraising efforts to enhance DNDi’s global impact.

Discover our projects in more detail on our international website at dndi.org.

Our publications

DNDi Annual Report 2021
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Browse online

DNDi Financial Report 2021
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Strategic Plan 2021-2028
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Strategic Plan At a glance
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15 years of needs-driven innovation for access
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Executive summary
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COVID-19 Policy Report

COVID-19 Policy Report: Another triumph of science, but defeat for access?
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DNDi North America Staff

Rachel M. Cohen, Regional Executive Director

Rachel M. Cohen joined DNDas the Regional Executive Director of DNDi North America in January 2011. Rachel has worked in the global health and humanitarian field for more than 20 years. Prior to joining DNDi, she worked for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) from 1999-2010. She served as Head of Mission for MSF in South Africa and Lesotho for four years, overseeing HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, sexual violence, and migrant health programs. Before working for MSF in the field, Rachel held numerous positions with MSF in New York, including U.S. Director for MSF’s Access Campaign, where she directed policy advocacy activities in the U.S. related to drug pricing, intellectual property, and medical innovation for neglected diseases. From 2009-2015, she also served on the Board of Directors of MSF’s Operational Center in Brussels. Prior to working with MSF, Rachel was the Director of Foundation & Corporate Giving at Housing Works, the largest grassroots AIDS service organization in the U.S., and before that, served as Program Coordinator for the U.S.+Cuba Medical Project, where she directed medical aid, educational, and advocacy programs. Rachel has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, co-authored dozens of reports, and been quoted extensively in the media. She is currently a member of the Steering Committee of the Global Health Technologies Coalition. Rachel earned her Master’s in Public Policy with a Certificate in Health and Health Policy from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs.

Patricia Balaci, Development Associate

Patricia Balaci joined DNDi North America as Development Associate in August 2021. She has been working in nonprofit development for over two decades. Her nonprofit career has been as an advocate for marginalized voices who need better access to healthcare, education, and basic needs. She has worked with Covenant House, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, Public Agenda, the American Cancer Society, the School of American Ballet, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and NYU Casa Italiana. Prior to her time working with non-profit organizations, Patricia taught Italian at Long Island University, Kingsboro Community College, and Greenwich House Senior Center. As a child of Italian immigrants, she is bi-lingual, has strong ties to Italy, and travels there frequently. She earned her MA in Italian and a BA in journalism from NYU. She has an Advanced Certificate in Teaching both middle and high school Italian from Pace University.

Stephanie Davies, Senior Advisor, External Affairs

Stephanie brings with her a wealth of campaigning, writing, and events experience. Since 2010, she has worked as a communications consultant with a range of NGOs and educational institutions, including MSF, Amnesty International, and Northeastern University. Stephanie worked as Director of Public Education for MSF in the U.S. for many years, creating the organization’s national speakers bureau, launching a regular panel discussion series led by prominent journalists, and overseeing several national tours of MSF’s outdoor exhibitions, including A Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City and the Access to Essential Medicines EXPO. Stephanie created MSF’s Bracelet of Life Campaign to raise awareness of childhood malnutrition, and the Two Pills A Day Saves Lives campaign to support MSF’s presence at South Africa’s first-ever national HIV/AIDS conference in 2003, during the darkest days of AIDS ‘denialism’. Prior to joining MSF, Stephanie organized professional research trips to Cuba with the Center for Cuban Studies and the U.S.+Cuba Medical Project, where she secured U.S. foundation funding for Cuba’s first international HIV/AIDS conference, including workshops for, and led by, people living with HIV/AIDS. Prior to this, she taught English Composition to low-income students at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus in New York City. Stephanie earned a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from Aberystwyth University, Wales, and a BA (Hons) in European Studies (French/Russian) from Bath University, England.

Colin Forsyth, Research and Project Manager

Colin is an epidemiologist and medical anthropologist who lived in Bolivia in the 1990s and became acquainted with the devastating impact of Chagas disease while there. His dissertation focused on the sociocultural dimensions of Chagas disease in Bolivia. He conducted research in 2013 at a nonprofit clinic in Bolivia where more than half of the patient population was infected with T. cruzi. He investigated the beliefs, experiences, and treatment strategies of patients affected by Chagas disease, and identified key barriers that hampered access to healthcare. His research won a prize from the Society for Applied Anthropology and has been published in Social Science and Medicine. Previously, Colin participated in epidemiological research on access to recommended treatment for heart disease in Florida hospitals. In 2009, he was involved in a project at the Florida Mental Health Institute which documented mental health practices designed for Latinos in different areas of the U.S. He completed an M.P.H in Epidemiology in 2011, and a Ph.D. in Applied Anthropology in 2014, at the University of South Florida, Tampa.

Vishal Goyal, Senior Medical Manager

Vishal Goyal joined DNDi in Jan 2011 and now works as Senior Medical Manager managing clinical research projects. He has over 10 years of experience managing clinical trials (Phase II- IV) including clinical research management, regulatory affairs, policy change, medical affairs & medical writing. Over the last 7 years, he has been involved in clinical research for development of new treatments in visceral leishmaniasis in India and Bangladesh including operational research projects in neglected tropical diseases in limited resource settings. He is Certified National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) Assessor for carrying out assessment of health care organizations against NABH accreditation standards for clinical trial in India. Vishal is a medical doctor, anesthetist by training from India. He has also pursued Executive Program in Strategic Management from IIM Kozhikode, India.

Robert Grembowitz, Financial Control Manager

Robert Grembowitz joined DNDi North America as Administration Coordinator in 2013. Prior to his work at DNDi, Robert was with Schering-Plough where he worked within the Global Quality Services group, and with YouthBuild Newark where he worked in urban community development through the Bridging the Gaps Program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Robert earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Delaware in 2010 and his Master’s degree in Public Health from Rutgers University in 2016.

Shirley Leung, Senior Human Resources Officer

Prior to joining DNDi, Shirley worked with Turner Construction on their International HR team. As the HR Administrator, she supported their international staff in over 7 countries. When she lived in Ohio, she served as the HR Coordinator for Best Restaurant Equipment and Design, a company that designed and provided restaurant equipment for chain restaurants. As the HR Coordinator, she was engaged in all aspects of HR including Benefits, Payroll and Employee Relations. She graduated from New York University with a B.A. in Computer Science and Mathematics; while she still enjoys both subjects, she’s found her niche in supporting employees through the Human Resources function. In her spare time, Shirley volunteers as a teacher and enjoys reading, outdoor activities and travelling.

Ilan Moss, Head of Media and Content

Ilan Moss was trained as a journalist and has over 15 years of experience communicating for United Nations agencies and non-profits in North America, Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia. Ilan joined DNDi in its New York office in 2015. Previously, he worked at Unitaid in Geneva, Switzerland. He has also worked with the U.S. Department of State as a global health communications consultant, training reporters during the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, and in 2017 trained over 30 provincial health directors in the Democratic Republic of Congo to better respond to disease outbreaks. Ilan’s work has been published in Reuters, Guardian, Huffington Post, OECD Observer, Jerusalem Post, Forward, JTA, Food Republic, Miami Post, Latin Business Chronicle, True Africa and many other news outlets and websites. He is a graduate of New York University and has a Master’s degree in Political Economy from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Alondra Ruiz, Executive and Administrative Assistant

Growing up along the Mexican border, Alondra Ruiz was exposed to communities, both in the U.S. and Mexico, facing economic inequality and social disparities in health. This emboldened her to pursue a career in social equity that addresses the health needs of disenfranchised communities. Prior to joining DNDi, she interned at several grassroots organizations in Texas with a focus on expanding low-income communities’ access to quality, affordable healthcare. She supported a small team at Curando RGV in their effort to expand access to reproductive healthcare, as well as a team at CareBOX Program who provided free health supplies to low-income patients diagnosed with cancer. She is a graduate of the University of Texas, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and is fluent in Spanish.

Help neglected patients

To date, we have delivered twelve new treatments, saving millions of lives.

Our goal is to deliver 25 new treatments in our first 25 years. You can help us get there.

DNDi North America Board of Directors

Darin PortnoyChair; Montefiore Medical Center; formerly president MSF, USA and Vice President of MSF’s International Board

Dr. Portnoy is an attending physician at Montefiore Medical Group and Family Health Center, and on Faculty at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, both in New York City. Dr. Portnoy worked for 14 years with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) as a field doctor and medical coordinator in Uzbekistan, El Salvador, Georgia, Sudan, Liberia, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. From 2004-2008, he was the President of MSF-USA and a member of the organization’s governing International Council. Previously, he served on the organization’s Board of Directors beginning in 2001. Presently, he serves on MSF USA’s Board of Advisors. Also, Dr. Portnoy has supported Human Rights Watch in their research on the Zambian prison system, and he is President of a foundation that supports the construction of schools, bridges, and water projects in Guatemala. Dr. Portnoy teaches medical students and residents; lectures at universities, grand rounds, and conferences; and has been a course instructor for global health and humanitarian aid courses at Einstein and Cornell University. He received his MD and MPH from Tulane University.

Shing ChangSecretary; Independent Consultant; formerly with DNDi, USA

Dr. Chang previously served as the Research and Development (R&D) Director of DNDi, from 2007 to 2012, leading DNDi‘s project portfolio and advancing the discovery and development of new treatments for neglected diseases. Prior to DNDi, Dr. Chang held various executive positions in the pharmaceutical sector. He served as Senior Vice President of Drug Discovery, and Chief Scientific Officer, at ICOS Corporation; held various management positions in drug and diagnostics research at Abbott Laboratories, including 7 years as Divisional Vice President of Infectious Disease Research in the global pharmaceutical R&D department; and was Vice President of Preclinical Development at Cetus, after joining initially as one of its first molecular biologists. Dr. Chang completed postdoctoral fellowships at Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin, and received his PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and BS in Biology from Fu-Jen Catholic University in Taiwan.

John Lawrence, Treasurer; Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, El Paso; formerly Board Member at Doctors Without Borders, USA

Dr. John Lawrence, a native of Illinois, has previously served as president and vice president of the board. Dr. Lawrence attended Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Medical School, then completed a family practice internship and worked as a general medical officer in Tuba City, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. He then returned to residency and completed training in general surgery at the University of Rochester, in Rochester, New York, and pediatric surgery at St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia. For the past 20 years, he has been a practicing pediatric surgeon, primarily in academic settings, and he is currently a staff pediatric surgeon at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. Owing in part to a longstanding interest in global health, Dr. Lawrence has completed ten surgical missions with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) since 2009 and is currently working toward an MPH degree through the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Lawrence has served MSF as a surgeon in the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Haiti, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia.

Meena Ahamed, Doctors Without Borders, USA

Meena Ahamed is a freelance journalist and has contributed articles about American foreign policy to publications, such as “Foreign Policy,” “The Asian Age” and “Seminar” among others. She was the London correspondent for NDTV from 1989-1996. During her professional career she worked at the World Bank and conducted research at Victoria Zenana Hospital. She is based mainly in Washington and New York and holds a post graduate degree (MA) from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Development Economics & Public Health. She is currently associated with the Boards of MSF Holland’s India Trust, Brookings Institution Council, and Turquoise Mountain Foundation USA. Meena Ahamed also serves on the Advisory Board of MSF USA. Her husband, Liaquat Ahamed, is a writer who won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in history for his book “Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World.”

Bernard Pécoul, DNDi, Switzerland

Dr. Pécoul has led DNDi since its founding in 2003. DNDi and its partners have developed and delivered has delivered nine new treatments for six deadly diseases. Dr. Pécoul played a leading role in the formation of DNDi in his previous position as the director of the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Prior to his involvement with the Campaign, Pécoul was Executive Director of MSF France, co-founder of Epicentre (the research and epidemiology arm of MSF), and a MSF field doctor in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Dr. Pécoul received his MD from the University of Clermont Ferrand and his MPH from Tulane University. In 2012, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree by the University of Dundee, UK. In 2020, Dr. Pécoul was awarded the Prince Mahidol Award in the field of public health by the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation, Thailand.

Bennett Shapiro, PureTech Ventures; formerly with Merck, USA

Dr. Shapiro was formerly Executive Vice President, Worldwide Licensing and External Research at Merck Research laboratories. Previously at Merck, he held the position of Executive Vice President, Worldwide Basic Research. Prior to entering the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Shapiro was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington. He also held the position of Chief, Section on Cellular Differentiation in the Laboratory of Biochemistry at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and was a visiting scientist at the Institut Pasteur earlier in his career. Dr. Shapiro presently serves on the boards of several biotechnology companies and non-profit organizations. He received his MD from Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University.

Africa Stewart, Doctors Without Borders, USA

Dr. Africa Stewart graduated with honors from Johns Hopkins University in 1995 with a BA in psychology and mathematical science. She then attended Drexel University Medical School in Philadelphia. In 1999 she completed an MBA with a concentration in strategic planning from the University of Pittsburghʼs Katz School of Business. She then returned to Philadelphia to finish her medical training at Drexel. In 2000, Africa received her MD and started her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Hahnemann University Hospital. Her career with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) began in Sudan in June 2011. Africa has completed five surgical field assignments with MSF and served as a guide for the organizationʼs Forced From Home exhibition about the global refugee crisis. She was elected to the board of directors in 2017. She continues to support women’s health care locally and abroad with an emphasis on education and prevention.

Kristina Torgeson, Lifebox; formerly Secretary General, MSF International

Kris Torgeson currently serves as Global CEO of Lifebox, an NGO devoted to safer surgery in low-resource countries. She served as the Secretary General of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) from October 2008 until September 2012. She started working for MSF in 1998 and was Director of Communications for eight years at MSF USA before joining the MSF International Office. She has worked in numerous emergencies for MSF, and served most recently for MSF in Liberia during the Ebola outbreak. She served as President of the Board of the Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) USA, and is co-founder of Mobilizing Action Toward Climate Change and Health (MATCCH). She earned a BA in East Asian Studies from Wesleyan University, was a Fulbright Research Fellow at Peking University, and earned her Master’s degree in Chinese from Columbia University.

Current job opportunities

We are looking for committed and talented individuals to join us in our efforts to develop safe, effective, and affordable treatments for diseases affecting some of the world’s poorest and most neglected communities.

Contact us

DNDi North America

40 Rector Street, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10006
USA

Tel: +1 646 215 7076

dndina@dndi.org