Chordoma Foundation

First Director of Research recruited to accelerate therapeutic development

A new phase is beginning in our mission to lead the search for better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for chordoma.

In the past ten years we have focused on driving progress in three crucial areas: building a vibrant chordoma research community, creating an end-to-end research-enabling infrastructure, and understanding chordoma biology to uncover promising drug targets. This has culminated in more than 300 researchers and a dozen companies working on chordoma, a suite of programs and resources that have enabled more than 120 research projects from basic research through clinical trials, and the discovery of more than 20 potential drug targets.

Now is the time to translate those advances into new treatments for chordoma patients. And driving forward therapeutic development will require more of the Foundation’s funding, coordination, and scientific leadership.

To meet this need, we are thrilled to have recruited a seasoned cancer scientist, Dr. Joan Levy, to serve as our first Director of Research. Joan joins our team with more than thirty years of experience spanning basic science, drug discovery, and clinical research in academia, industry, and nonprofit settings.

Before coming to the Chordoma Foundation, Joan spent 10 years leading a variety of clinical and preclinical research programs at the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, one of the world’s most effective cancer research organizations. There, among other things, Joan was responsible for managing a clinical research consortium that brought together more than 20 leading academic centers to accelerate Phase I and Phase II clinical trials for multiple myeloma. Prior to that, Joan managed an early drug discovery program in oncology for Bayer Pharmaceuticals and studied oncology and osteoporosis as a bench scientist at NYU and Yale.

Dr. Joan Levy

“I’ve been involved in the field of oncology since graduate school – for over 30 years –  and have participated in different aspects of the research process from basic science at the bench to early drug discovery at a pharmaceutical company to translating research findings to the clinic at a patient foundation. But I’ve never felt a greater sense of purpose than when I work directly with patients and caregivers to advance the therapies they need and fight for. It is what drives me to get out of bed every morning and continue this work. And what’s incredible is that I’ve never seen progress that matches the scope and speed of what the Chordoma Foundation has accomplished in the past 10 years,  especially, with a tumor type as rare as chordoma. It is an honor and privilege to be part of the effort to improve lives and find a cure.” 

— Dr. Joan Levy, Director of Research


In joining our team, Joan will be responsible for:

  • Advancing new drugs and drug combinations into the clinic – with a focus on driving the discovery of therapies that target brachyury as well as those that harness the immune system to fight chordoma
  • Overseeing our Drug Screening Program and Clinical Trials Program
  • Managing our research grants portfolio
  • Developing and managing new partnerships with researchers and pharmaceutical companies

She will also work hand-in-hand with our research manager, Patty Cogswell, who continues to oversee our Biobank, model repositories, and model development efforts.

I am extremely enthusiastic about the increased capacity to catalyze research that Joan will enable at the Foundation, and I look to working with her to further accelerate the search for a cure. As a chordoma patient myself, it is truly encouraging to have such a talented and experienced scientific leader focused on driving forward chordoma drug discovery. Recruiting Joan into this field is a big step for the global movement of patients, families, doctors, and researchers who have come together over the past decade to fight chordoma, and a testament to the momentum that we have created together. Looking ahead, with Joan on board, our community is well-positioned to identify the first effective systemic therapies for chordoma in the coming years – a milestone that will have a lasting impact on tens of thousands of lives across the world.

Please join me in welcoming Joan to the Foundation and to this community! If you have any ideas or questions you’d like to share please email

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