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Children’s Tumor Foundation Announces Leadership Change

By January 15, 2014December 5th, 2023Awareness



For Immediate Release


Simon Vukelj, Director of Communications

(212) 344-7568;


Children’s Tumor Foundation Announces Leadership Change

Annette Bakker, PhD named President of the Foundation

(NEW YORK, NY) January 15, 2014 — The Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) announced today that Annette Bakker, Chief Scientific Officer of the Foundation has been elevated to President, succeeding outgoing President John W. Risner.  A highly-regarded expert with vast experience in research and drug discovery, Dr. Bakker assumes the position of President immediately.  In her new role, Dr. Bakker will be responsible for all facets of the Foundation’s strategic initiatives and operations, including program development, fundraising, research, and public outreach.  Along with her new responsibilities, she will also continue to serve as the Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer.

The Children’s Tumor Foundation is the world’s leading nongovernmental organization dedicated to fighting neurofibromatosis (NF), a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow throughout the body and can lead to cancer, blindness, deafness, bone abnormalities, learning disabilities and disabling pain.  It affects one in 3,000 births, making it more prevalent than cystic fibrosis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Huntington’s disease combined.  It affects all races, ethnicities and genders equally.  There are few treatment options today, and the Foundation funds critical research that will lead to a cure.

Since joining the Foundation in 2011, Dr. Bakker has led the expansion of the Foundation’s research programs.  The NF Preclinical Consortium has built a strong pipeline of promising compounds, which will be further enhanced by the NF Therapeutic Consortium, the Synodos research initiative was established, an NF Biobank and NF Registry were launched, and an online NF data warehouse is soon to be live.  A common thread among these initiatives is the steering of Foundation research goals from a pure funding model to one of partnership and collaboration.

“We are thrilled about the opportunities that Dr. Bakker’s leadership will present to the organization and to the cause of ending NF,” said Board Chair Stuart Match Suna.  “Annette shares that same sense of passion and urgency about the work of our Foundation that all of those impacted by NF live with every day.  We look forward to her bringing that sense of passion, urgency and hope to her work leading this organization forward.”

“I am truly honored and humbled to assume the leadership work of the Children’s Tumor Foundation, and thank the Board and Foundation volunteers for their vote of confidence”, said Annette Bakker, new President of the Foundation. “During my time here, I’ve worked with the best researchers in the field of NF, and I’ve spent time with NF patients young and old, and here’s what all have in common: a desire to end as quickly as possible this disease that is just so destructive.  Neurofibromatosis remains a mystery in so many ways, but we are committed to finding the solutions that will help those living with NF.  My focus will be on seeking innovative breakthroughs in drug development, and effectively collaborating with all the stakeholders —  clinicians, researchers, academics, pharma, biotech, and other industry partners in the field of NF and related fields – and last but not least, the patients.”

Dr. Bakker holds a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Antwerp. Prior to the Children’s Tumor Foundation, she was Oncology Head for Siena Biotech, where she created the oncology program from the ground up and managed multiple oncology research initiatives in Europe and Asia.  Her prior experiences include Oncology Group Leader at Janssen Pharmaceutica and postdoctoral fellowships at Yale University and La Salpetriere, Paris. Dr. Bakker’s research has been internationally recognized by peer-reviewed papers, patents and innovation awards.

She replaces outgoing President John Risner, who recently left the Children’s Tumor Foundation after many years of service as its President and as a member of the Board of Directors. His leadership of the Foundation in fundraising, advocacy, and targeted research has resulted in the Foundation’s funding of over 30 NF specific trials and 80 drug compounds currently in existence, and an NF Clinic Network that currently treats over 15,000 patients per year in 44 clinics across the United States.

“On behalf of the entire CTF family, we are indebted to John for his passion and commitment to those affected by NF and for his years of service to the Children’s Tumor Foundation,” said Stuart Match Suna, CTF’s Board Chair.  “He has brought our organization to a level of professionalism to which other nonprofits can only aspire.  John has ensured a smooth transition with a leader poised to take our urgent work to the next level.”

“This Foundation is the best hope for the NF community to achieving our vision of ending NF once and for all,” said John Risner,  “While I am stepping down as President, I remain a committed member of the NF community and will be available to Annette as a volunteer in any way I can.  Annette has proven herself to be a great leader in NF research and I am confident that she will be a great President.”

For more information about neurofibromatosis and the Children’s Tumor Foundation, please visit To schedule a media interview with Annette Bakker, please contact the Foundation’s communications director, Simon Vukelj, at 212-344-7568 or


About the Children’s Tumor Foundation
The Children’s Tumor Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to finding effective treatments for the millions of people worldwide living with neurofibromatosis (NF), a term for three distinct disorders: NF1, NF2, and schwannomatosis. NF causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body and can lead to blindness, bone abnormalities, cancer, deafness, disfigurement, learning disabilities, and excruciating and disabling pain. NF affects one in every 3,000 births, more than cystic fibrosis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and Huntington’s disease combined. The Children’s Tumor Foundation funds critical research into neurofibromatosis. In addition to benefiting those who live with NF, this research is shedding new light on several forms of cancer, brain tumors, bone abnormalities, and learning disabilities, ultimately benefiting the broader community.