Los Angeles, CA, November 12, 2021 –The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) announced today that Yelak Biru, 51, a longtime myeloma patient advocate and former Data and Analytics Executive at PepsiCo and Walmart, has been named Chief Executive Officer of the nonprofit research and patient advocacy organization. 

Biru was diagnosed with multiple myeloma at the age of 25 while a student at the University of North Texas. Driven to learn more about the disease, a cancer of the plasma cells, Biru joined his local myeloma patient support groups, which he eventually led in Texas, then Arkansas. 

“Living with myeloma is not easy,” Biru said. “But having an organization like the IMF beside me during my cancer journey has helped me live with—and not for—myeloma.”

Founded in 1990 by Susie Durie and her late husband, Brian Novis, who died of myeloma in 1992, and Dr. Brian G.M. Durie, Chairman of the Board of Directors, the IMF provides patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals with innovative myeloma education and supports extensive collaborative research around the world through its International Myeloma Working Group to find a cure for the as-yet incurable cancer. 

“I am confident Yelak will put his talent and experience as a patient advocate to good use in leading the organization,” said Susie Durie, who has led the organization for 31 years and will assume the title of Founder and Director of Global Patient Initiatives. 

Biru, a member of the IMF Board of Directors since 2015, said he looks forward to leading an organization he once turned to for guidance. His fellow board member, Dr. S. Vincent Rajkumar, a myeloma specialist at Mayo Clinic, looks forward to Biru joining the foundation. “Yelak will provide inspirational leadership in the pursuit of our vision to cure myeloma,” he said.


Yelak Biru, 51, was born in Ethiopia. After earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science from the University of North Texas, he worked in advanced business analytics at PepsiCo. In 2017, he joined Walmart, where he worked in global technology. He has participated in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Council of Research Advocates and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Myeloma Steering Committee. He also coauthored articles published in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and Blood Cancer Discovery and appears frequently at international medical conferences. Biru and his wife, Loul Haugs, live in Los Angeles.

About the International Myeloma Foundation

The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) is the first and largest international foundation focusing specifically on multiple myeloma. The IMF is dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients while working toward prevention and a cure by focusing on four key areas: research, education, support, and advocacy. The IMF maintains a world-renowned InfoLine, and in 2001, established the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG), a collaborative research initiative focused on improving myeloma treatment options for patients. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE (2873). The global website is Follow the IMF on Twitter @IMFmyeloma.

Contact: Debra Gendel, IMF
[email protected]

Contact: Sapna Kumar, IMF
[email protected]
818.487.7455 ext. 258 



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