Komen Breast Cancer Group Selects Salerno as New CEO

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the breast-cancer advocacy group whose president resigned last year after criticism over funding policies, named Judith A. Salerno as its new president and chief executive officer.

Salerno will succeed the group’s founder, Nancy G. Brinker, in the top administrative job, the Dallas, Texas-based organization said today in a statement. Salerno is the executive director and chief operating officer at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Previously, she was deputy director of the U.S. National Institute on Aging, where she oversaw more than $1 billion in research on issues such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The leadership change follows a tumultuous period in which Komen, the largest U.S. breast-cancer research and advocacy group, withdrew funding early in 2012 for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, only to quickly reverse its position in the face of criticism. After the controversy, Brinker apologized “to the American public.”

“Judy’s years of proven leadership in public policy and research make her the right choice to lead all aspects of Komen’s mission,” Linda Custard, the board chairwoman, said in the statement. “We are delighted that she will be heading our leadership team and guiding Komen now and into the future.”

Leadership Changes

Brinker announced last August that the group’s president, Liz Thompson, would resign and a search would begin for a new chief executive officer and president. Brinker said she would step down as CEO to focus on the group’s global mission and development when a new top executive was found. Two board members also resigned at that time.

Planned Parenthood praised the selection of Salerno.

“We wish Dr. Salerno well in this important new role, and we’re proud of our continued partnerships with Komen and others to ensure that all women, regardless of income, have access to information and high-quality health care to prevent, detect and treat breast cancer,” Eric Ferrero, the group’s vice president for communications, said in a statement.

Komen said it has spent more than $1.5 billion in outreach for breast-cancer education, screening and treatment and $755 million in research since it was founded in 1982 by Brinker after her sister, Susan G. Komen, died of the disease. The charity is known for the pink ribbons it first distributed to breast-cancer survivors and participants of the Komen New York City Race for the Cure in 1991, according to its website.

The Washington-based Institute of Medicine provides medical advice to policy makers and the public.

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