GSBS Alumni Awards

Andrew J. Kurtz, PhD

2024 GSBS Distinguished Alumnus Award

This award is presented annually to a graduate who has made outstanding contributions in the area of service, involvement and leadership or has achieved special recognition in his or her professional career. This is the highest honor bestowed to an alumnus by the GSBS Alumni Associates.

About Dr. Kurtz

Andrew (Andy) Kurtz completed his PhD in the Department of Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics at the University of Texas Medical Branch in 2003. 

From 2005 until 2007, he was an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).  He has been a Program Director at the NCI since 2007 and currently works in the NCI’s Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives.  For almost 19 years, Dr. Kurtz has been responsible for supporting and leading research programs that represent new and emerging opportunities for the NCI and the NIH.  

He served on the NIH management team that launched The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) pilot project, a landmark cancer genomics effort that began in 2006 and ultimately characterized molecular aberrations in 20,000 primary tumors across 33 cancer types.  He was instrumental in establishing a new center to oversee NCI’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, and in 2014, he was responsible for co-creating the NIH Innovation Corps entrepreneurship training program, which provides mentorship and instruction to NIH grantees on translating new biomedical technologies from the lab to marketplace. 

Currently, Dr. Kurtz co-leads the Cancer Grand Challenges initiative, a partnership established in 2020 between the NCI and Cancer Research United Kingdom (CRUK), the world’s leading charity dedicated to supporting cancer research.  The goal of Cancer Grand Challenges is to support international, multidisciplinary teams who are attempting to solve difficult research questions with the potential to dramatically improve outcomes for cancer patients. 

Dr. Kurtz has received numerous NIH awards and was selected in 2016 to the Excellence in Government Fellows program sponsored by the Partnership for Public Service. 

Outside of his responsibilities at the NCI, Dr. Kurtz has served as an Adjunct Faculty Instructor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, teaching a course on translational cancer biotechnology.