IMF Patient, President & CEO Yelak Biru drives the organization’s mission of improving the quality of life of myeloma patients while working toward prevention and a cure. He sees his role as a way “to pay it forward and carry the baton as far and as fast as possible so those who come after me, those who come after us, can go even further.”
Diagnosed with multiple myeloma at the young age of 25, Yelak has lived with the disease for more than two decades. His journey as a patient brought him to the IMF, first in support groups and then as a member of the organization’s Board of Directors.
With his leadership, the IMF has continued to conduct more than 50 ongoing research studies worldwide, to foster support and education for patients and caregivers, to advocate for equitable healthcare access, and to enhance alliances around the globe. His vision is “to find a cure for myeloma so no one dies from the disease by the year 2035.”
Yelak’s decades-long passion for improving the lives of myeloma patients combined with his 25 years of working in Fortune 50 corporations (PepsiCo and Walmart), expertise and deep know-how of technology and HR Analytics, as well as his unique understanding of people, team building, strategy, and operations make him the perfect fit to lead the International Myeloma Foundation—the 32-year-old organization always puts patients at the center of all its endeavors.
Yelak possesses domain expertise in People Analytics and cross-functional skills in supply chain, finance, marketing, and Data Analytics and Strategy development. He has a track record of leading large, diverse, and geographically disparate teams in a global, matrixed business–IT setting; championing data-driven agile product development; and leveraging user experience design principles. He is a change agent with the ability to influence senior stakeholders, to collaborate across lines of business, and to deliver strategic initiatives.
Yelak’s extraordinary set of life experiences—as a 27-year myeloma survivor; an IMF board member; a dedicated member of the National Cancer Institute’s Myeloma Committee, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, National Cancer Research Advocate organizations; a co-author of published research; a prolific speaker on patient care and myeloma research issues; and his collaborations with both for-profit and non-profit organizations—has afforded him a deeper understanding of the challenges, disappointments, and triumphs that myeloma patients and their care team face on a day to day.
Born in Ethiopia, Yelak completed his undergraduate and master's degrees in Computer Science from the University of North Texas. He and his wife, along with their two dachshunds, live in Los Angeles, California.