Maria C. Freire, Ph.D.

head shot

Maria C. Freire, Ph.D. was the President and Executive Director and member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) from 2012 to 2021. Under her leadership, the FNIH developed a substantive portfolio of innovative research and clinical programs that advance biomedical science. Prior to FNIH, from 2008 to 2012, she was President of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, where she established programmatic initiatives that expanded the brand and reach of the foundation. From 2001 to 2008, she served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance), a not-for-profit organization that develops drugs to fight tuberculosis, and from 1995 to 2001, she directed the Office of Technology Transfer at the NIH.

Dr. Freire obtained her BS degree at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru, and her PhD in Biophysics from the University of Virginia. She completed postgraduate work in Immunology and Virology at the University of Virginia and the University of Tennessee, respectively, and at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She is widely recognized as an expert in technology commercialization and has a wide range of experience in the public and private biomedical sectors.

Dr. Freire is active on national and international boards and committees. She is the Chair of the Business Advisory Board of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Barcelona, Spain; is a Director of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc.; is on the Board of Directors for Exelixis,Inc.; has served as a member of the Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future of the National Academy of Medicine and the Executive Committee of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network; and was a member of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Dr. Freire is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2019 “Executive of the Year” Award from NonProfit PRO, the 2017 Gold Stevie Award for “Woman of the Year”, the 2017 Washington Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business Award, the HHS Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service, the Arthur S. Flemming Award and the Bayh-Dole Award.

For more information, please visit Dr. Freire's Wikipedia page.

Watch Dr. Freire speak about the transformative nature of biomedical research on The Open Mind

Email address:

Phone: (301) 443-1811