eBulletin Newsletter

Spotlight/Profile – Meet The NCCN Foundation Board Chair

Name: Gena Cook
Hometown: Seattle, WA

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your career

I build companies—either as a founder and CEO or through board roles and advisory services. Throughout my career, I’ve gained expertise in starting, leading, and growing companies in industries such as life sciences; distribution; medical devices; medical imaging artificial intelligence (AI) ; data and analytics; pharmaceutical services; and digital health. I’ve worked with startups, private equity-owned companies, and large corporations.

Working in cancer care has been a big part of my career. Early on, when I was a sales representative, I had the opportunity to attend patient support groups organized by one of the doctors I worked with. Connecting with women in advanced stages of ovarian cancer, who had tried every treatment option, had a profound impact on me. The medications I sold gave them the chance to extend their lives and experience important moments like meeting their grandchildren, attending their children's weddings, and enjoying life.

At OTN and McKesson, I saw how technology could help healthcare providers improve their practices and enhance patient care. So, I founded Navigating Cancer, a cancer care patient management software solution that serves 30% of cancer providers and their patients.

I believe that extraordinary people drive innovation. That’s why I’m passionate about building extraordinary teams that can do extraordinary things, and I take pride in mentoring new leaders.

But my greatest accomplishment is being the mother of two college students. I’m grateful to my husband for raising our children together with me and helping me build my career. I enjoy reading, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

Q: What is your current professional role?

I’m currently focused on preventing lung cancer and improving lung health. As the founder and CEO of Kaliper Health, I lead a team that has developed a platform that uses AI to coordinate care for lung cancer screening and lung health.

Lung cancer kills 1.8 million people worldwide each year, more than breast, colon, and prostate cancer combined. But not many people follow the lung cancer screening guidelines, and more than 85% of eligible patients don’t get screened.

I am striving to make lung cancer screening as common as mammograms and colonoscopies.

A low-dose CT scan takes just 15 minutes and can:

  • Find lung nodules and detect cancer early
  • Assess risk for conditions such as emphysema, COPD, and interstitial lung disease
  • Save lives and decrease costs

Kaliper Health helps patients and doctors manage lung health at a population level, making it easier for patients to breathe and for doctors to provide the best care.

Q: What brought you to the NCCN Foundation?

I was fortunate to be invited to join the Foundation near its inception. I’ve seen it grow from the creation of the first patient guideline to the extensive library we have today, which helps support nearly every diagnosed patient. At the time, I was in the early stages of developing Navigating Cancer. It was a great opportunity to share what I was learning with the Foundation, and vice versa.

Q: What does the NCCN Foundation mission mean to you?

Twelve years ago, my father died of lung cancer. The following year, NCCN announced the NCCN Guidelines® for Lung Cancer Screening at the NCCN Annual Conference. I thought about my dad and wished these guidelines had come sooner. I was inspired that NCCN recognized the importance of annual lung cancer screening for high-risk patients. That’s why NCCN and NCCN Foundation’s mission is so personal to me. I'm proud to be part of an organization dedicated to improving the quality, education, and accessibility of cancer care.

Q: What do you want the readers to know about the NCCN Foundation?

Our primary goal is to ensure that every patient, caregiver, and family member has access to the NCCN Guidelines for Patients® at the time of diagnosis. The guidelines give them the same information as their doctors so that they can create the best treatment plan based on the latest science and data and feel confident in their choices.

Important things to remember:

  • You can share this information for free. Everyone needs to know it’s available. Please help us get the word out!
  • We have resources for employers. Following the treatment guidelines improves outcomes, reduces costs, and helps patients and their loved ones feel in control during recovery.
  • We rely on donations. Your generosity is greatly appreciated!

Q: How do you incorporate the work of the NCCN Foundation into your daily life?

I incorporate the NCCN Foundation into my daily life by sharing the patient guidelines with friends, colleagues, and family members who have cancer.

Pat Delaney, the Executive Director of the NCCN Foundation, has been a great mentor. He has inspired me to talk about our work in everyday conversations. That helps us reach more people. After all, we all know someone who has been touched by cancer, and my job involves interacting with different people in the cancer care system.

As Pat says, “It has to fit within the fabric of your life, and it has to be fun.” It certainly is, and is rewarding too!

Q: What are you most proud of regarding the NCCN Foundation?

I'm very proud that we have a large library of resources for most cancer patients in the U.S. And we’ve worked on translating the resources to help patients around the world. I’m proud of the work we do in supporting early career investigators, as they are our future in continuing to make important advances in cancer treatment and care.

Q: What are you most excited about for the NCCN Foundation in 2024?

It's an exciting time of growth for the NCCN Foundation. We’re engaging more and more people and organizations to support our work. We also want to help more employees through employer partnerships, and we aim to reach a larger global community with our free resources. That’s how we can make a bigger impact and help more patients.