Thursday, Apr. 29, 2010

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

When a parent is lost to cancer in the developing world, it means no school for the kids, no more food on the table and a future in which the only certainty is poverty. In 2010 we'll lose 8 million people as this disease quietly becomes the world's leading cause of death. And developing nations will keep getting hit the hardest.

Facing down this challenge is Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. At age 25, she created a biotech company in her garage. Never mind that no one in the '70s knew what biotech was, that she is a woman and that backers were hard to come by because of these two points. Today that start-up, Biocon International, is a $1 billion operation.

Every year, Shaw donates $2 million to support health insurance coverage for 100,000 Indian villagers. She devoted $10 million to creating the 1,400-bed Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Centre in Bangalore, India. When it opens this year, it will treat poor patients for free in the evenings so they can continue to work and care for their families during the day.

Thank you, Dr. Shaw, for treating cancer like the global crisis it has become.

Armstrong is a champion cyclist and the founder of LiveStrong

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Correction appended: April 30, 2010. The original version of this article misspelled the author's last name.