For Risa Shapiro, being an alumna is a two-way street; staying connected is not only a way of giving back, it is continued education. Shapiro, who earned a B.S. degree in biological sciences in Ithaca and doctorate from Cornell’s Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences in New York City, has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than a decade. As the executive director of the Strategic Development and Program Management group at Novartis Oncology, she is committed to ensuring that the most promising therapies are made available to cancer patients.
Her love for original research in general—and biology in particular—was solidified by three years of molecular biology research as an undergrad at the Boyce Thompson Institute. After earning a graduate degree at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, she began coordinating oncology research projects with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. At Novartis, she has run global clinical trials and led multidisciplinary drug development teams. In her current role, she is responsible for managing the oncology portfolio. Already, she has contributed to the development of six treatments that are benefiting cancer patients around the world, and she has won numerous awards within the company for her teams’ successes.
Shapiro has fostered her strong connection to Cornell through 15 years of service as an alumni class officer, including as president, vice president and class council member. She is a regular participant in New York and New Jersey alumni events and an active member of the President’s Council of Cornell Women.
Shapiro lives in New Jersey with her husband Gadi.