Keith Desserich Chairman/Co-Founder
Keith Desserich, Chairman/Co-Founder
Keith Desserich, Chairman/Co-Founder, The Cure Starts Now Foundation and President, Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium Foundation, Cincinnati, OH
Keith Desserich is the Chairman and Co-Founder of The Cure Starts Now Foundation, the leading international charity dedicated to finding a cure for rare pediatric brain cancers that the experts believe may offer us cures for all cancers. He and his wife, Brooke, founded the charity in 2007 after losing their oldest daughter to a cancer called DIPG at the age of 7. Her public battle was told in the bestselling book “Notes Left Behind” that was translated into 21 languages worldwide. Determined to reform how we fight cancer as a society, today their efforts have expanded to 46 chapters in the USA, Canada and Australia and partnerships with another 25 independent foundations. Their meetings, registries and consortiums have resulted in the creation of over 130 trials in 17 countries and more than $30 million invested. Their efforts have changed how we collect data on cancers, how we fund trials and how we develop a strategy that works.
Both he and his wife are the recipients of the Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Public Service due to their efforts. Keith Desserich is also the President of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium Foundation and a steering committee member of the Consortium that is a main initiative of the NIH. He consults on various cancer initiatives in the USA, Europe and Canada and is considered an expert on rare cancer implications on families.
Professionally he is an entrepreneur with 27 years of experience in the for-profit realm before retiring in 2021. He and his wife live in Cincinnati, Ohio with their 2 children.
1. What brought you to CSN?
We were first introduced to DIPG when our daughter Elena was diagnosed. At the time few barely knew the name as it was formally named DIPG about 1-2 years prior. Worst yet, there was less than $200,000 spent researching DIPG despite the fact that many experts in the field felt that brainstem gliomas as a whole represented the next frontier in cancer research. In time we would write about this in an online journal with the last line of the piece being “the cure starts now.” In time this would represent the cause that we would join after losing our daughter to DIPG.
2. What I do at CSN
Chairman of the Board of Directors. My job is to anticipate the long term aspects of the charity, provide the structure for its success and develop the research network to find the cure. For me, it’s all about the culture and the contacts, which I see as critical to our effort.
3. What I like most about my job
I love meeting the children we fight for. For me it is like spending time with Elena once more. I also love seeing the enthusiasm and passion that researchers have for the homerun cure. There’s nothing better than to see both of these things come together in a total cure.
4. What moment have you cherished most at CSN?
I love the network that our chapters have built in pursuit of the cure. I especially enjoy when The Cure Starts Now becomes THEIR charity and not just something they just fundraise for.
5. Many people would be surprised if they knew I…
I once had the chance to talk with Hulk Hogan face to face about the homerun cure. I was most surprised when he followed up with in-depth questions and took “Notes Left Behind” to read.