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Dr. Friend is an authority in the field of digital health, resilience, cancer biology and a pioneer in gene expression, using integrating system biology approaches to complex diseases and building participant centered Health solutions. Early in his career while at the Dana Farber and MIT he led the team that cloned the first human cancer susceptibility gene, and co-led the teams that developed the RNA expression tool now used worldwide to assess the aggressiveness of breast cancers. He then helped rebuild the cancer franchise as a SVP for Oncology at Merck where lasting impact to Merck was through the tools and expertise at Rosetta which brought in modern genomics and molecular profiling techniques to Merck which are the basis of many approvals of Keytruda such as high miss-match repair tumors that helped enable Oncology to become a lead franchise at Merck.
He is currently co-founder and President of 4YouandMe (nonprofit) and Founder and Chairman of Sage Bionetworks, a non-profit research organization founded in 2009 to provide tools and environment to conduct dynamic, large-scale collaborative biomedical research. Under his leadership, Sage Bionetworks developed technology platforms like Synapse and Dream Challenges for data-intensive analysis, sharing and reuse, enabling researchers to perform cutting edge research, and to allow patients to use mobile technology to provide their data and insights as research partners on the health problems that matter most to them.
Dr. Friend has been on the faculty at Harvard, University of Washington, and worked at Apple 2014-2017 in a senior role to help build their digital health efforts and is now based at Oxford. He also has been a senior advisor to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Cancer Institute ARC and AACR. He is both an Ashoka fellow and a AAAS Fellow.