Who We Are


The Foundation for Research & Education Excellence (FREE Foundation) is a community of dedicated volunteers who are passionate about ensuring that we improve lives through better discovery and learning. 

Our Board

Our Foundation is led by a Board of dedicated and passionate individuals. 

Richard P. Buyalos

President/CEO 

Dr. Buyalos is Co-Director of Fertility & Surgical Associates of Southern California (FSAC), and is a board certified physician in reproductive endocrinology, Ob/Gyn, and a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He serves as clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Buyalos is internationally recognized for his work in infertility, reproductive aging, and polycystic ovary syndrome, and has received numerous awards from various organizations including Best Doctors in America; Los Angeles Magazine’s Super Doctors; Pacific Coast Reproductive Society; Consumers’ Research Council of America’s Top Obstetricians and Gynecologists; RESOLVE, and the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Dr. Buyalos received his BS from the U. of Maryland and his MD from Thomas Jefferson University Medical College.   

Scott I. Zeitlin

Scott I. Zeitlin

Secretary

Dr. Zeitlin is an internationally recognized specialist in urology and serves as the Secretary of the Foundation for Research and Education Excellence. Dr. Zeitlin’s colleagues have selected him to ‘Super Doctors’ 14 years in a row. Los Angeles Magazine named him a “Top Doctor” in 2019. He currently belongs to the American Urologic Association, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Society for the Study of Male Reproduction, and was previously on the Pacific Coast Reproductive Society’s board of directors. He’s twice been honored as the Clinical Faculty Member of the Year in the UCLA Department of Urology and received a Master Teacher in Urology Award from the SUNY-Downstate Alumni Association. In addition to teaching at UCLA, he has performed NIH-funded research for over a decade. 

Trixy Castro, Board Member

Trixy Castro

Member of the Board 

Ms. Castro is a seasoned entrepreneur, executive and fund manager, with a strong reputation as an innovator in the United States real estate and mortgage finance industries. Ms. Castro created the first true private money company in the real estate investment space, Genesis Capital, LLC, in 2007. She sold Genesis to Goldman Sachs in January 2018. The success of Genesis Capital led her to start Genesis Auctions in 2011. With her borrower clients needing access to more assets, she created the first technology driven real estate disposition platform for investor buyers. The growth of Genesis Auctions led to an acquisition of Hudson & Marshall, LLC. in April of 2015. The combined company was a leading real estate auction platform which she sold to Fidelity National Title in May of 2017. A prolific entrepreneur, Ms. Castro continues to invest in, build, and sell new ventures.

Daniel Farkas, Board Member

Daniel L. Farkas

Member of the Board 

Dr. Farkas, a former Fulbright scholar, directed a National Science and Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon Univ. that won the Smithsonian Award for Science. He was Professor of Bioengineering, U. of Pittsburgh, and Vice-chairman for Research and Professor of Surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He received several prestigious awards, and counts 200+ publications, 11 editorial boards, $80 million in funding, and 32 international conferences chaired. His current focus is on translational biomedical optics, in academia and startups he founded. Recently, he was elected President of an international interdisciplinary surgical society, and named Global Good Fellow, to work for Bill Gates on advanced technologies for addressing the health challenges of developing countries. Dr. Farkas was trained in Theoretical Physics in Romania, and holds a PhD in Biophysics from the Weizmann Institute in Israel.   

Samuel J. Hewitt, Board Member

Samuel J. Hewitt

Member of the Board 

Mr. Hewitt is a principal with GlassRatner Advisory & Capital Group, a national specialty financial advisory services firm providing solutions to complex business problems and Board level agenda items. Mr. Hewitt is a CPA with over 32 years’ experience in Forensic Accounting, Financial Management, Information Technology and Public Accounting. He began his career with the audit practice of Price Waterhouse in the Charlotte, NC office. His largest client was (what is now) Bank of America, and he gained experience in SEC registration and reporting, due diligence services, business valuation and financial reporting issues. Mr. Hewitt holds a BS in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Richard Katzman, Board Member

Richard Katzman

Member of the Board 

Mr. Katzman served as Executive Vice President for Operations for the Lundquist Institute. Previously, he served as Chief Strategy Officer for El Camino Hospital, and as Vice President of Academic Affairs and previously as Vice President for Business Development at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (CSMC).  Prior to joining CSMC, he had a range of planning, business development and financial experiences, from running community-based hospitals to university and academic medical centers to a publicly traded corporation and a start-up information technology company. Mr. Katzman earned a BA in finance from The American University in Washington, DC, and holds a master’s degree in health services administration from the University of Arizona in Tucson. 

Samir Khleif, Board Member

Samir Khleif

Member of the Board 

Dr. Khleif is professor and director of The Loop Immuno-Oncology Research Laboratory at the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University, CEO of Evercare Global Cancer Centers, and director of the Global Oncology Research and Impact Institute. Previously he served as the Director of the Georgia Regents University Cancer Center; Chief of the Cancer Vaccine Section at the National Cancer Institute (NCI); Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) leading the Critical Path Initiative for oncology.; Director General and CEO of the King Hussein Cancer Center, as part of an agreement between the NCI and Jordan. Dr. Khleif received his MD from the University of Amman in Amman, Jordon.

Ricardo Azziz, Executive Director

Ricardo Azziz

Founder and Executive Director  

​With over 20 years of leadership experience in higher education, research, and academic healthcare, Dr. Azziz serves as Executive Director of the Foundation for Research and Education Excellence. He also serves as Principal, Tellurian Global, LLC; and previously served as Chief Officer of Academic Health and Hospital Affairs, State University of New York (SUNY) System Administration; as founding President of Georgia Regents University (now Augusta University); founding CEO of the Georgia Regents Health System (GRHS, now Augusta University Health System), and president, Georgia Health Sciences University. Among other appointments, Dr. Azziz is also a recognized translational scientist, serving on the faculties of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University at Albany, SUNY and is a Fellow of the Rockefeller Institute for Government. He earned his MD from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and his MPH and MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. 

Janice Bielmyer, Executive Administrator

Janice Bielmyer

Executive Administrator 

Janice is an administrative professional with over 25 years of experience driving operational efficiencies by implementing cutting-edge systems, maximizing performance, and developing professional communications and exceptional customer service. Previously, Janice provided oversight for the Dean’s Office at the Clemson University College of Business. She also organized college-wide events and administered the Tenure, Promotion, and Reappointment process for the faculty of the Business College. She also served as Associate Director of Administration with the University of Central Florida (UCF), as Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and as Executive Assistant to the President of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation. Janice received her B.S. In General Business Administration & Management from Limestone College.