Stephen H. Friend, MD, PhD
President and Co-founder
Stephen H. Friend, M.D., Ph.D., is an authority in the field of cancer biology and a leader in efforts to make large-scale, data-intensive biology broadly accessible to the entire research community. He has more than a decade of experience using large datasets and integrating system biology approaches to complex diseases. This includes work pioneering the field of the genetics of gene expression. Dr. Friend is the president of Sage Bionetworks and director of the new Sage Bionetworks Center for Cancer Systems Biology where he actively leads an interdisciplinary team of network, systems and computational biologists. Sage Bionetworks’ mission is to develop predictive disease models based on globally coherent datasets built from clinical data and multiple layers of genomic data using Bayesian and co-expression approaches.
Dr. Friend has been a senior advisor to the NCI and several biotech companies, a trustee of the AACR and recently was made an AAAS Fellow. After receiving a Ph.D. in biophysics, Dr. Friend did his clinical training at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Dana-Farber Cancer Research Institute in Boston. He had lab training in the Weinberg lab at the Whitehead Institute where he led the team that cloned the first tumor suppressor gene p53 and characterized its role in controlling the cell cycle. Dr. Friend next joined Dr. Leland Hartwell at the FHCRC to establish the Seattle Project and explore how model organisms could provide insights into cancer and chemotherapeutic responses. In 1997, they co-founded Rosetta Inpharmatics where they showed that expression patterns could provide detailed functional snapshots linking yeast and man. After Rosetta was bought by Merck & Co. Inc. in 2001, Dr. Friend was recruited to become a senior vice-president at Merck, head its molecular profiling effort and form a new oncology unit which placed seven new chemical entities into clinical trials in seven years. Recognizing that genetic datasets were too fragmented and siloed and data and model sharing was inadequate, he left Merck in 2009 to form Sage Bionetworks, a non-profit foundation with Dr. Eric Schadt. Dr. Friend is also co-leader of the Arch2POCM initiative that is building an open, pre-competitive research infrastructure for collaborative preclinical and proof of concept in man drug development.