Sumaira Foundation gives 1st ‘rare trailblazer’ award to Horizon’s CEO

Tim Walbert recognized for promoting empathy, patient needs in industry work

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by Mary Chapman |

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The Sumaira Foundation (TSF), a global patient advocacy group focused on neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) and a related condition, has presented Tim Walbert, CEO and president of Horizon Therapeutics, its inaugural Global Rare Trailblazer Award.

The award was announced in Boston at the foundation’s 6th Annual Gala, its flagship fundraiser event that raised more than $200,000 for research into NMOSD and the related myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody disease (MOGAD) this year. More than 300 people from around the world attended the April event, including patients, caregivers, clinicians, and scientists.

“TSF’s Global Rare Trailblazer Award was created to recognize stellar leaders who are challenging the paradigm and imagining new possibilities for patients with rare diseases to experience a better quality of life,” Sumaira Ahmed, TSF’s founder and executive director and a NMOSD patient, said in a press release.

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Both Walbert and his son are living with a rare disease

Walbert joined Horizon in 2008 as its president and CEO, and two years later took over as chair of its board of directors. The biotechnology company focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialization of treatments for those affected by rare autoimmune and inflammatory conditions such as NMOSD and MOGAD.

Uplizna (inebilizumab-cdon), approved to treat NMOSD, was developed by Viela Bio, which is now part of Horizon.

Walbert has both a rare disease and an autoimmune condition, and he is a caregiver to a son also living with a rare condition.

“We’re thrilled to present our Inaugural Award to Tim Walbert. Apart from setting up Horizon to be an industry leader in bringing to market patient-focused solutions for rare diseases, Walbert … consistently brings great empathy and a deep understanding of patient needs into industry conversations,” Ahmed said.

“We couldn’t think of a better person to receive TSF’s Global Rare Trailblazer Award, nor of a better occasion than our Annual Gala to present the Award,” she added.

The nonprofit foundation works to heighten awareness and raise funds for NMOSD and MOGAD.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by such a trailblazing organization that shares a similar mission of supporting people living with rare diseases,” Walbert said.

“Sumaira and I have a lot in common in that we both live with a rare disease and are committed to making a meaningful difference for other patients. My mission, and Horizon’s mission, is to combine science and compassion to address unmet needs and provide hope for underserved patient communities,” he added.