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Speakers and Honorees
Freda Lewis-Hall, MD, DFAPA
Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Pfizer
Honorary Doctor of Science
“The greatest reward for me is having a positive effect on the health and lives of thousands or even millions of people,” says Freda Lewis-Hall of her job as executive vice president and chief medical officer of Pfizer, the global biopharmaceutical company. “That kind of impact is best expressed through the stories of the patients themselves.
“A few years ago, at a Pfizer meeting, we heard from a patient granted a second chance at life thanks to a cancer breakthrough. He began to speak with us, but was overcome by emotion. His wife suggested that he just go through the experiences they had enjoyed because he was alive and well enough to experience them. They were many: Seeing one child graduate. Walking another one down the aisle. Several trips together, many joyous moments.”
Lewis-Hall adds: “All of us in medicine, whatever our roles, hear these kinds of stories from patients, and they more than make it all worthwhile.”
Pfizer, one of the world’s largest, most science-intensive companies, is just one of many notable entries on Lewis-Hall’s CV. She was formerly chief medical officer and executive vice president of medicines development at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, senior vice president of medical affairs at Bristol-Myers Squibb, vice president of research and development at Pharmacia Corp., and product team leader at Eli Lilly, where she founded the Lilly Center for Women’s Health. Before her time in the biopharmaceutical industry, she spent several years on the academic side of medicine, holding leadership and research positions at the National Institute of Mental Health and at the Howard University Hospital and College of Medicine.
Explaining her career path, Lewis-Hall says, “I came for the science and stayed for the patients.”
As a founding member of the governing board of The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, she has helped shape the direction of comparative effectiveness research, which seeks to improve the quality and relevance of evidence available to help patients, caregivers, clinicians, employers, insurers, and policymakers make informed health decisions.
The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and UMB are also integrally involved in patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) and with improving the science and methods of comparative effectiveness research that will ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes.
“This concept of patient-centricity — putting patients at the heart of all we do in health care research and delivery — is now at the forefront of health care,” Lewis-Hall said as the keynote speaker at the School of Pharmacy’s Pumpian Lecture on March 23.
Because of her respect for the School of Pharmacy and the University, Lewis-Hall says she is overjoyed to be a member of the platform party at UMB’s commencement on May 20.
“I’m a home-grown Maryland girl and have long admired UMB,” she says. “So I was surprised, thrilled, and above all grateful to be honored by an institution that has served Maryland and the world so well for 200-plus years.”
A member of many boards, including those of Harvard Medical School and Save the Children, Lewis-Hall was named one of Black Enterprise’s “Top 50 Women in Corporate America” in 2015 and was the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association’s 2011 "Woman of the Year." A passionate advocate for empowering patients through access to research-based medical information, she speaks frequently in venues from TEDMED to the Essence Music Festival, appears regularly as a medical expert on television shows including The Doctors and Dr. Phil, and blogs on health topics at GetHealthyStayHealthy.com.