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International Myeloma Foundation Holds 15th Annual Gala at the Edison Ballroom in New York City on April 18

STUDIO CITY, Calif., April 25, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On Thursday, April 18, The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) held its 15th Annual Gala for the first time at the Edison Ballroom in New York City at 6 p.m. EST.

International Myeloma Foundation 15th Annual Gala: On Thursday, April 18, The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) held its 15th Annual Gala for the first time at the Edison Ballroom in New York City hosted by renowned actor and comedian Ray Romano.

A Media Snippet accompanying this announcement is available by clicking on this link.

Hosted by renowned actor and comedian Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond), the annual IMF Gala benefits the Peter Boyle Research Fund as well as other key IMF research initiatives such as the Black Swan Research Initiative® and educational programs.

Romano was joined onstage by award-winning artists: comedian and singer Robert Klein; actor Tony Danza; with the special participation of actress and film producer Patricia Heaton, and actress and model Alex Meneses.

Established in 2007, the Peter Boyle Research Fund supports groundbreaking, cure-focused myeloma research and was named in honor of Peter Boyle— a beloved actor and one of the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond who lost his battle with multiple myeloma.

Peter’s wife, IMF Gala Committee Chair Loraine Alterman Boyle, is also a member of the IMF Board of Directors.

During his opening remarks at the gala, IMF President & CEO and 28-year myeloma survivor Yelak Biru delivered a powerful message:

"We are a tapestry woven from patients, caregivers, researchers, doctors, supporters, and industry partners – all united by the same unwavering purpose – to conquer myeloma.”

He described how standing before the audience at the Edison Ballroom, he felt a “mix of emotions.” Yelak recalled being diagnosed with myeloma at the young age of 25 and how this diagnosis “forever altered” the course of his life.

To a captivated crowd, Yelak continued, “Cancer. Incurable. 2-3 years to live. Dead before the age of 30. These were the phrases I heard in that cold winter of 1995. By the grace of God and innovation of science, that was 28 years ago.”

Yelak credits his survival journey to finding a “beacon of hope” in the International Myeloma Foundation. Today, as the organization’s President and CEO, Yelak proudly shared with the audience, “At the IMF we have always placed patients at the center of everything we do. It's more than just a mantra; it's the very foundation upon which this organization was built. Here, patients aren't just statistics; they're individuals with stories, dreams, and a fierce will to live. We empower them to become active participants in their own treatment journeys…after all, it's their lives we're fighting for. The battle rages on and the need for continued progress is urgent!”

With this pressing call to action, Yelak closed his speech with this sentiment: “This annual gala isn't just a fundraiser; it's a celebration of our collective will.”

One of the highlights of the evening was the awards ceremony, honoring organizations with the following:

Innovation Awards
The Innovation Award recognizes a pharmaceutical company that demonstrates exceptional dedication to developing novel therapies, advancing clinical research, and fostering patient-centric care by developing therapies and offering robust patient support programs in multiple myeloma.

This year’s Innovation Awardees are Bristol Myers Squibb and 2seventy bio. Dr. Samit Hirawat, Bristol Myers Squibb Executive Vice President, Chief Medical Officer, Drug Development; and Chip Baird, 2seventy bio Chief Executive Officer received the awards on behalf of their respective organizations.

BMS and 2seventybio were recognized for their groundbreaking research methods that led to the development of Abecma (idecabtagene vicleucel or ide-cel)— a life-changing third-line treatment for multiple myeloma patients whose other options have been exhausted.

The awards were presented by IMF Chairperson of the Board S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD, and Myeloma Patient and Advocate Tom Bellfort.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Award
The inaugural IMF Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Award is unique because it recognizes the critical importance of health disparities, especially in multiple myeloma.

Johnson & Johnson President of U.S. Hematology Tyrone Brewer received the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award on behalf of Johnson and Johnson.

In his award acceptance speech, Brewer stated: “I’m so honored to accept the inaugural Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award. This is incredibly meaningful given my personal values, the work we are committed to every day at Johnson & Johnson, and the mission of the IMF. That’s why the work we do at Johnson & Johnson to advocate for diversity and justice, through Our Race to Health Equity initiatives, is so important. We are committed to creating a world where your identity is not a determinant of your access to care, the quality of your care, or your health outcomes.”

“At Johnson & Johnson, we’re looking at all factors that impact quality of care, and we’re looking to empower patients on all fronts to take charge of their health,” added Brewer.

The award was presented by IMF Chief Medical Officer Joseph R. Mikhael, MD, and Myeloma and Patient Advocate Oya Gilbert.

Partner of the Year Award
The Partner of the Year Award recognizes an organization that significantly contributes to the IMF’s vision of creating a world where every myeloma patient can live to the fullest, unburdened by the disease.

LatentView Analytics Chief Executive Officer Rajan Sethuraman received the Partner of the Year Award on behalf of LatentView Analytics.

"I want to thank the International Myeloma Foundation for this recognition. Through this collaboration, we have reduced the ‘time to hope’ for patients diagnosed with myeloma using data to reduce the time between diagnosis and choosing a treatment plan, significantly improving outcomes and lives," said Sethuraman in a press release from LatentView Analytics.

The award was presented by IMF Board Member Sanjay Singh, and Myeloma Patient and Advocate Kent Oliver.

“We have made major advances in myeloma through close collaborations between researchers, pharmaceutical companies, patients, and non-profit foundations. The IMF 15th Annual Gala was a huge success—celebrating the remarkable progress we have made and highlighting our continued commitment to research and to patients worldwide,” said IMF Chairperson of the Board Dr. S. Vincent Rajkumar.

“The IMF 15th Annual Gala was designed with the vision of taking the organization into the next era of innovation and collaboration. The IMF exists because we help patients and care partners find their way, as they go through their own myeloma journeys. Patients and care partners turn to us at the most vulnerable time of their lives, looking for answers. We give them HOPE and a REASON to continue to fight their battle against myeloma by showing them that it is possible to live and thrive. However, the IMF cannot do this alone. The gala was a testament to the strong partnerships, collaborative mindset and spirit, and innovative thinking that the IMF has established with the myeloma community. We need philanthropy to help us be big and bold with research and to bring moonshot ideas to life. Science and research require money and without funding, finding a cure for myeloma will remain elusive. The gala's success — raising over $675,000—brought us closer to our goals, and we are excited to continue to advance and scale in our mission!” said IMF Vice President of Development Sylvia Dsouza, who took the lead in organizing this year’s gala.

The IMF extends its very special thanks to Gala Chair Loraine Alterman Boyle and to Ray Romano for their unwavering support of the Gala and the IMF.

We also wish to acknowledge Gala Vice-Chairs Laurie Kuzneski, Carol Klein, and Kimberly Alexander; Honorary Chairs Anna and Ray Romano; and members of the Gala Honorary Committee: Joe Armstrong, Amy Boyle, Lucy Boyle, Tom Brokaw, Ebs Burnough, Judy Collins, Blythe Danner, Tom Fontana, Barbara Freitag, Brad Garrett, Mark and Marilou Hamill, Ann Hearst and Jay McInerney, Patricia Heaton, Jason Katz, Alex Meneses, S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD, Desiree Rogers, Phil and Monica Horan Rosenthal, Slava Rubin, Lisa Schultz and Dr. Ezriel Kornel; Stu Smiley and Lisa Doty, Otis Williams, and Alfre Woodard.

The IMF is grateful to our Gala Honorees: Bristol Myers Squibb, 2seventy bio, Johnson & Johnson, and LatentView Analytics; and to our sponsors: Sanofi (Silver Level); Loraine Alterman Boyle, Karyopharm Therapeutics, Kite Pharma, Benson and Carol Klein, Leanne Klein, Medscape Oncology, Mount Sinai, Charles and Sharon Newman, Pfizer Inc., Rosenthal Family Foundation, and Takeda Oncology (Bronze Level).

The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) has banded together the world’s brightest minds in research, oncology, and health studies to form the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative® (BSRI) – a leading-edge project that pits our scientists and leaders on the frontlines against myeloma. The IMF’s BSRI was established in 2012, following a scientific brainstorming meeting linked to the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) Summit in Amsterdam. Together, the IMF and BSRI’s mission is to find the first definitive cure for myeloma and to help bridge the gap from long-term remission to cure. Led by an international consortium of myeloma experts, BSRI is bridging the gap from long-term remission to cure by sharing collective data and tracking myeloma through multiple, simultaneous drug trials and therapies to determine which work best. 

Partnering with cities across the U.S., the International Myeloma Foundation’s (IMF) M-Power Project aims to turn the core vision of the IMF Diversity Initiative into a reality: improving the short- and long-term outcomes of African American patients with multiple myeloma. By raising myeloma awareness and empowering healthcare professionals, community leaders, neighborhoods, and families, the M-Power Project aims to break down barriers for the African American myeloma community.

Founded in 1990, the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) is the first and largest global foundation focusing specifically on multiple myeloma. The Foundation's reach extends to more than 525,000 members in 140 countries worldwide. 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 has conducted more than 250 educational seminars worldwide, 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. In 2012, the IMF launched the Black Swan Research Initiative®, a groundbreaking research project aimed at curing myeloma. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE (2873). The global website is

Follow the IMF on: 
X: @IMFmyeloma 
Instagram: @imfmyeloma  
Facebook: @myeloma  
LinkedIn: International Myeloma Foundation 

Media Contacts: 

Peter Anton 

Jason London 

Select Gala Press Coverage:

CNN Entertainment

Today With Hoda and Jenna

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