Dr. Catharine Young

Executive Director and Chief Foundation Officer SHEPHERD Foundation, Washington D.C., USA

Dr. Catharine Young is a scientist, educator, and diplomat with global experience in non-profit, academic, government, and entrepreneurial environments. Born and raised in South Africa, she received a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Missouri, USA, and went on to conduct postdoctoral research in Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University. Her foray into science policy and advocacy began as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Technology Policy Fellow in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs. Here she led international engagements on eliminating biological weapons, improving biosafety and biosecurity, and establishing and enhancing bio surveillance capacity. Dr. Young co-founded Blueprint International, a non-profit dedicated to providing novel and advanced technological solutions to address complex social welfare and public health issues, starting in South Africa. She also initiated the “Supper with a Scientist” program with the aim to bring people together in the spirit of celebration, to build new relationships and to learn about science from an expert over the joy of sharing food.

Currently, Dr. Young is the Executive Director and Chief Foundation Officer of the SHEPHERD Foundation, where she plays an instrumental role in acquiring funding for the “Rare Cancer Awareness, Treatment and Research Act of 2020”, as well as creating new programs and initiatives that serve patients with rare cancer and their families, such as an open source molecular data database to accelerate the development of new life-saving treatments and therapies. Through her previous roles as Senior Director of Policy for the Biden Cancer Initiative and Senior Science and Innovation Policy Advisor and Head of the DC team for the Foreign Commonwealth Office, she has influenced science and innovation policies of both the UK and US governments, industry, and academia.

Dr. Young is a Presidential Leadership Scholar, a TED Fellow, a Board Member of the Awesome Foundation, and is among the Social Enablers Top 100 most inspiring social entrepreneurs. She is a passionate advocate for women in STEM and has been a contributor to major social and media networks, including TED-Ed, the Guardian, and the UK Science and Innovation Network.

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