Anne-Marie is a senior executive with extensive experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. In her most recent role as executive vice president and chief medical officer at Rigel Pharmaceuticals, she led the development of new drugs for auto-immune diseases and was responsible for getting their first drug approved.
Anne-Marie has lost several friends to pancreatic cancer and another is currently battling the disease. She looks forward to bringing her expertise to large-scale, life-changing initiatives like PanCAN’s Precision Promise℠ to improve treatment options for pancreatic cancer patients.
Here, we share more about Anne-Marie’s background, interests and what brought her to PanCAN.
Born in Brittany, France, raised in Madagascar and then later in Paris, Dr. Anne-Marie Duliege’s appreciation of different cultures was sparked at a young age and remains strong today.
Anne-Marie said, “Everything I learned from a humanitarian perspective, I learned in Africa.”
Although she received her MD degree, certification in pediatrics and masters in biostatistics from Paris Medical School, Anne-Marie spent much of her time in Africa early in her career.
Even before she specialized in pediatrics, she was drawn to helping women and children in resource-poor settings. She traveled multiple times to Cameroon, Morocco, Niger, South Africa and Tunisia, and set up a nutrition camp in Ethiopia during the 1985 famine.
During one of these trips to Ethiopia, at a time when its citizens were subjected to tyranny and unimaginable horrors, she talked with a young man about why he didn’t leave.
Anne-Marie said, “He had no passport and told me that even if he left, his parents would be tortured and killed as a result. And, of course, he would never be able to return.”
“I myself once lost my passport in the Djibouti airport and was jailed for two hours. Though it wasn’t a scary jail, I couldn’t leave. Minutes before, I was a doctor traveling to set up a clinic. All of a sudden, I was nobody.”
When her passport was recovered and she was out of jail, “Poof, I was a doctor again,” she said. “I was somebody. I realized what a luxury it is to be free, to live in a democratic country and have a passport.”
Anne-Marie also learned the hard way about the importance of understanding people’s cultures.
Working in Tunisia, she treated premature twins in desperate need of hospital care that couldn’t be provided in the village. Anne-Marie pulled strings and made all the arrangements for a four-hour medical transport for them.
She presented her plan to the mother and, to Anne-Marie’s surprise, the mother said no. Her husband wouldn’t let the babies travel alone and he would not have allowed her to travel alone either. And that was the end of that.
Anne-Marie remembers telling herself, “Next time, before you get all excited about your big ideas, first take the time to understand who you’re talking to.”
Anne-Marie first heard about PanCAN through a pancreatic surgeon scientist David Linehan, MD. One of her friends had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and Dr. Linehan guided Anne-Marie to PanCAN’s Patient Services for free 1:1 help.
Anne-Marie had been wanting to move to the nonprofit space and was impressed by the culture at PanCAN. She’s drawn to PanCAN’s energy and optimism, particularly that of Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, PanCAN’s president and CEO. And she’s excited about the prospect of contributing to initiatives like PanCAN’s Precision Promise, “a groundbreaking, nationwide collaboration that’s bigger than one organization.”
She continued, “After losing several friends to pancreatic cancer, I look forward to making a positive impact on the lives of patients with this tragic disease.
“I am thrilled by the breadth and innovation of the scientific research at PanCAN. I am equally inspired by the dedication and team spirit of all my colleagues.”
Although Anne-Marie deeply loves her country of origin, she said she wouldn’t move back to France. She was eager to relocate to the U.S for many reasons, one of which was the opportunity to practice both medicine and research.
“At that time in France, you were expected to do one or the other and I really wanted to do both.”
At 27, she was accepted into the Harvard School of Public Health, came to the U.S. and made it her home.
While studying in Boston, she reconnected with a childhood friend who was living in California. Claude Ezran, now her husband of 30 years, trained as an electrical engineer, got an MBA degree and worked in high tech business development and marketing. They have three daughters, Irene, 23, Marie, 25, and Camille, 27 who all currently live on the East Coast.
She and Claude share many interests including traveling, dancing, art and music. They’re also devotees of Burning Man, an annual outdoor art event in the Nevada desert.
Anne-Marie serves on the board of CIRM, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, an organization that focuses on stem cell research. She also serves on the boards of nonprofits dedicated to causes such as the prevention of HIV and improving access to healthcare in developing countries.
Anne-Marie continues to practice pediatrics as an adjunct clinical assistant professor at Stanford Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.