Hepatitis B Foundation Executive Director Retires After 25 Years of Service
Co-founder Joan Block helped create the nation’s leading nonprofit research and disease advocacy organization dedicated to hepatitis B
DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (April 2017) – The Hepatitis B Foundation has announced that its co-founder Joan Block, RN, BSN, is retiring as executive director in June 2017. After 25 years of service, Block is stepping down to pass the torch to a new director who will lead the foundation’s next quarter century of discovery. An interim director will be named as the board of directors conducts a nationwide search for a permanent replacement.
“Joan Block has been an inspiration and a guiding force for the Hepatitis B Foundation for 25 years, and her accomplishments made it possible for us to reach the point we are at today – a trusted global authority for hepatitis B and a beacon of hope for the 240 million people affected worldwide,” said Joel Rosen, Esq., chairman of the foundation’s board of directors. “The foundation owes her an immense debt of gratitude for her dedication, and we are fortunate that we will continue to benefit from her wisdom and experience while we search for the next leader to shepherd us into the future.”
Block and her husband, Dr. Timothy Block, with Paul and Janine Witte, created the Hepatitis B Foundation in 1991 in New Hope, PA. Their goal was to find a cure for hepatitis B, the world’s most common serious liver infection, and help improve the quality of life for those affected. In the years since, the foundation has grown from a grassroots effort in Pennsylvania into the nation’s leading nonprofit research and disease advocacy organization for hepatitis B with a global reach.
Under Block’s leadership, the foundation has created many comprehensive programs, including a website (www.hepb.org) that attracts more than one million unique visitors from 150 countries, multi-platform, multi-lingual educational materials, newsletters, and email and telephone helplines. It has been at the forefront in developing successful national and international public health campaigns, and leading a robust advocacy presence in Washington, DC that has resulted in hepatitis B becoming a protected condition under the Americans With Disabilities Act to prevent discrimination, and increased federal funding for hepatitis B and liver cancer research.
“The past 25 years have been immensely rewarding with many exciting and challenging experiences,” said Block. “The foundation’s success has been made by possible by many people whom I have had the privilege to work with. Individually and collectively each person has inspired and enriched me, and those relationships are what I will treasure most from this amazing journey, and will miss the most.”
Block’s health and advocacy career began when she was a nursing student at Thomas Jefferson University and continued as she worked as a pediatric oncology nurse, adult cardiac care nurse and nurse educator. Today, while she serves on the boards of other nonprofit organizations, her commitment to the Hepatitis B Foundation remains a personal priority. Although Block is stepping down as executive director of the foundation, she will continue to serve as an advocate for its mission to find a cure and make hepatitis B history.
In 2003, the foundation established an affiliated research institute, renamed the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute in 2013 in memory of its co-founder who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the hepatitis B virus. Today, the Blumberg Institute supports the nation’s largest concentration of nonprofit scientists focused on hepatitis B and liver cancer drug discovery. It also coordinates, with the foundation, the International Hepatitis B Meeting that rotates annually between North America, Europe and Asia.
Both the Hepatitis B Foundation and Baruch S. Blumberg Institute are headquartered in the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center in Buckingham, PA. The Biotech Center was established in 2006 to serve as the home of the foundation and is managed by the Blumberg Institute. It is a life-sciences incubator and accelerator that offers state-of-the-art laboratory and office space to nonprofit research companies and biotech companies.
About Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is the world’s most common serious liver infection and the primary cause of liver cancer, which is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. Two billion people (or 1 in 3) have been infected with the hepatitis B virus, more than 240 million are chronically infected, and almost 1 million people die each year from hepatitis B-related liver failure and liver cancer. In the U.S., 1 in 20 Americans has been infected with hepatitis B, and an estimated 2 million are chronically infected. The hepatitis B virus is transmitted through blood, unprotected sex, unsterile needles, and from an infected mother to her newborn during delivery. Although hepatitis B is preventable and treatable, there is still no complete cure for this deadly liver infection.
About the Hepatitis B Foundation: The Hepatitis B Foundation is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization solely dedicated to finding a cure for hepatitis B and improving the quality of life for those affected worldwide through research, education and patient advocacy. To learn more, go to www.hepb.org, read our blog at www.hepb.org/blog, follow us on Twitter @HepBFoundation, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hepbfoundationor call 215-489-4900.
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