A Message From President & CEO Brian T. Harman

2021 is an important year and milestone in the history of the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation; it is UMDF’s 25th Anniversary. As President and CEO, I am excited and delighted to kick off our yearlong celebration of the achievements we made together as we look toward a future where mitochondrial disease is eliminated. Since the beginning, this has been our collective goal.

The UMDF began in the basement of our founder, Charles Mohan, Jr., in 1996. Chuck and his wife, Adrienne, tirelessly worked to learn more about MELAS, the mitochondrial disease that affected their daughter, Gina. When Gina lost her battle with mitochondrial disease, Chuck continued to build UMDF into what it has become today. We are grateful for Chuck’s commitment to laying the groundwork for UMDF 25 years ago.

Over the decades, UMDF has grown into a global organization recognized for support and educational resources for patient families. With more than 90 ambassadors, UMDF provides one-on-one support to those who are just beginning their journey with mitochondrial disease and to those who are living with the disease. Our Ask the Mito Doc webcasts and Mito U educational hub provide an unparalleled educational resource for patient families needing answers. Our international Mitochondrial Medicine Symposium, whether in person or virtual, is considered the most important gathering of the scientific and medical and patient families and caregivers communities.

The UMDF Research Grant Program funded its first grant in 1996 at a time when no other organization existed to fund mitochondrial disease research. From humble beginnings, UMDF has grown over the past 25 years into the largest, non-governmental funder of basic and translational research designed to bring the best science from the bench to bedside. UMDF is able to fund clinicians at every state of their professional career, cultivating the most promising science to move us faster towards treatments and cures.

None of this could happen without your unwavering support over the past 25 years. We are strong, and we are committed because of your resiliency and dedication to help move our mission forward. Your generosity, whether through your participation in an Energy for Life Walkathon, a Family Impact Fund or as a monthly Hope Flies member, propels this mission forward every day.

While this anniversary is an important milestone for our organization, we look forward to celebrating new accomplishments this year. Our focus stays true – we won’t rest until we have a world without mitochondrial disease.

On behalf of the UMDF Board of Trustees and staff, THANK YOU for an inspiring 25 years. We plan to celebrate this year by taking a look back at some of our accomplishments. We hope you will share some of your memories as well.