Patient Power Advisory Panel
The Patient Power Advisory Panel supports our organization’s ability to support the advancement of better quality of life, therapies, treatments, and disease outcomes for cancer patients. The advisory panel members are a diverse group of cancer patients, caregivers/care partners, experts, and community advocates. They will serve as advisors and provide insight and feedback to the Patient Power team on what is important to cancer patients and care partners in each cancer condition community.
Multiple Myeloma Patient Advocate
Jack Aiello is a leading patient advocate in multiple myeloma. In January of 1995, Jack had a terrible backache. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma through a blood test. Since that time Jack has had stem cell transplants and participated in clinical trials that have brought him to remission, even if only for a short time. Ultimately he had a full allogeneic (donor stem cells) transplant, resulting in a long-term remission. While he has long-term side effects, Jack's spirit remains high. Jack is involved with cancer advocacy organizations such as the International Myeloma Foundation, Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), and Myeloma Crowd, all of which provide research dollars and education programs for multiple myeloma. He has also served on myeloma committees which focus on developing clinical trials, offering his patient perspective to the National Cancer Institute, SWOG Cancer Research Institute, BMT Clinical Trials Network, and Stanford’s Scientific Review Committee.
AML Patient Advocate
Steve Buechler is a retired sociology professor who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in 2016. He was treated with chemotherapy, radiation, and a double umbilical cord blood transplant. He nicknamed his baby donors “Ralph” and “Gwen.” Three weeks after transplant, Ralph was 99% engrafted and he remains cancer-free four years later. Steve subsequently became involved with Be the Match, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and other organizations as a peer patient counselor. He is also an advocate for the healing power of writing our stories. In this capacity, he serves on the community advisory board of an NIH study to bring writing by transplant survivors to newly diagnosed patients on a web-based platform, and he also teaches a writing workshop at Gilda’s Club. Information on his memoir “How Steve Became Ralph: A Cancer/Stem Cell Odyssey (with Jokes),” as well as his speaking engagements, blog posts, and video webcasts can be found at www.stevebuechlerauthor.com.
MPN Patient Advocate
Jean Diesch was diagnosed with a myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) in 2009 which inspired her to develop the Pittsburgh Support Group in 2013. Since then, Jean has served as a patient advocate for Cleveland Clinic’s 4th Angels and ImermanAngel. For her efforts, she was recognized as a 2018 MPN Hero of the Year. She has since remained active within the MPN Research Foundation and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
CLL Patient Advocate
Jeff Folloder is a husband, father, son, blood cancer survivor, and Patient Power host. He is passionate about patient education and connecting with other patients to help them with resources and support for their condition. Jeff was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in 2010 and sought treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He entered a clinical trial at the end of 2011 and enjoyed more than six years of complete remission. Jeff has relapsed and is now back in "watch and wait" mode, though he is confident and optimistic about what the future holds. He credits his support team, including family and medical staff, with all the needed tools to live life well, even with cancer.
LGBTQ+ Issues Patient Advocate
As a Patient Power advisory panel member, Shannon Hansen strives to lend a voice to underrepresented communities. She has fulfilled multiple professional and volunteer roles aimed at increasing awareness for LGBTQ+ issues in her home state of Idaho. Shannon holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Idaho. Her career highlights include over two decades of experience within the semiconductor and ASIC circuit design industries and multiple innovation awards and US Patent filings. She collaborated with industry experts to assemble allyship awareness training content that focuses on intersectionality and building empathy for her professional colleagues. Shannon is passionate about ensuring everyone’s voice is heard, regardless of their background. As a transgender woman, Shannon is familiar with navigating the unique complications of healthcare access within underrepresented communities. In her free time, Shannon is an outdoor and action-sports enthusiast. She enjoys downhill mountain biking, snowboarding, competitive waterskiing, and trail running. Shannon is looking forward to working with other passionate individuals to help Patient Power’s content reach and resonate with the diverse communities impacted by cancer.
NHL Patient Advocate
Lou Lanza was born in December of 1953 in Philadelphia. His mother passed at the age of fifty-three from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, his father passed at the age of seventy from heart failure, and his middle sister succumbed to Glioblastoma in 2012. He was diagnosed in January of 2005 after a previous diagnosis of sleep apnea and allergies. Finally, after his wife’s urging, Lou went to Jefferson Hospital where he was diagnosed with Large B Cell Stage IIA Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He received eight chemo treatments then continued with twenty radiation treatments. Following a series of PET/CT scans for the next few years, Lou was considered in remission. After treatment and survival, he became aware of his good fortune and wanted to give back and reach out to others going through health problems. Lou volunteers for American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and Cancer Support Community Greater Philadelphia (CSCGP) at their various funding events. His association with AACR has given him an avenue to thank the people that gave their time and money in raising funds. Also, he serves on the committee for the National Brain Tumor Society Race for Hope in honor of his sister who succumbed to Glioblastoma.
Sheila Marie McGlown
Breast Cancer Patient Advocate
Sheila McGlown is a mother, wife, and 25-year veteran of the United States Air Force. While at work in the fall of 2009, Sheila sneezed and experienced a burning sensation near her breast. She went to her military doctor who, after performing a breast exam, ordered a mammogram. In December, after a mammogram and subsequent ultrasound, Sheila was diagnosed with de novo metastatic breast cancer (MBC) at the age of 43. For Sheila, the fight against breast cancer goes beyond her personal battle with the disease: her mother passed away from MBC in 2004. Since her diagnosis, Sheila has retired from the military and has become active within the breast cancer community. One of the main goals of her advocacy work is to raise awareness of the disease and make sure others know that MBC can affect anyone, regardless of their race or age. In 2013, Sheila joined Living Beyond Breast Cancer's Youth Advocate Volunteer outreach program. Sheila was recognized by Living Beyond Breast Cancer with their 2017 Hear My Voice Award for the advocacy work she has done supporting people living with MBC.
CLL Patient Advocate
Michele Nadeem-Baker has worked as a national broadcast journalist for ABC, NBC, and CBS and globally as the chief of communications for large publicly traded corporations. Her chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) diagnosis changed her life but did not stop her. Calling upon her reporting background she now helps inform others effectively navigate the world of treatments, education, and coping skills and become a known CLL influencer. She was drawn to Patient Power for its credible, unmatched information, first becoming involved as a host and patient reporter in 2015 when starting a clinical trial at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and reporting from the infusion chair. She also moderates various blood cancer patient support groups. Michele has extensively represented the American Cancer Society and worked with organizations on medical conditions including various cancers and cardiovascular health. Michele's advocacy efforts were recently recognized when she was nominated as a WEGO Health Awards Patient Leader Finalist.
Elizabeth Comen, MD
Dr. Elizabeth Comen is a Medical Oncologist on the Breast Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center with a clinical practice devoted to the treatment of patients with all stages of breast cancer. She is also an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Comen earned her BA from Harvard College and her MD from Harvard Medical School. She completed residency at Mount Sinai Hospital and her fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She has presented her research many times at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting and the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. She has also been awarded several peer-reviewed grants, including the Young Investigator Award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO, Breast Cancer Breakthrough Award from the Department of Defense, and the Lambert Foundation Award from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Dr. Comen’s research focuses on the mechanisms by which the tumor microenvironment permits breast cancer to grow and metastasize. In particular, she collaborates with several laboratories to help translate laboratory discoveries regarding the immune system and metastasis into clinically meaningful treatments for patients at risk for or with breast cancer. With her laboratory collaborators, Dr. Comen aims to identify unique biomarkers that can help identify breast cancer at its earliest stage and those women at increased risk for metastasis. She is specifically interested in how the immune system ages over time, even among young people, and how this influences the risk of early-stage breast cancer as well as metastasis.
Naval G. Daver, MD
Dr. Naval Daver is an Associate Professor and Director of the Leukemia Research Alliance Program in the Department of Leukemia at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is a clinical investigator with a focus on molecular and immune therapies in AML and myeloid disease and is the principal investigator on 25+ ongoing institutional, national and international clinical trials in these diseases. These trials focus on developing a personalized therapy approach by targeting specific mutations or immune pathways expressed by patients with AML, evaluating novel combinations of targeted, immune and cytotoxic agents, and identifying and overcoming mechanisms of resistance. He is especially interested in developing monoclonal and bispecific antibodies, immune checkpoint, and vaccine-based approaches, as well as targeted and apoptotic therapies in AML and is leading a number of these trials at MDACC. Dr. Daver has published more than 240 peer-reviewed manuscripts and is on the editorial board of numerous hematology journals.
Angela Fleischman, MD, PhD
Dr. Fleischman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology at UC Irvine Health in Irvine, California. She is dedicated to a lifelong career as a clinician-scientist investigating hematologic malignancies, integrating her research with the clinical care of patients with this disease. In July 2013, Dr. Fleischman joined the University of California, Irvine (UCI) to start her independent laboratory focusing on the pathogenesis of myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN), a chronic leukemia. Dr. Fleischman’s laboratory focuses on the role of inflammation in MPN because of the belief that inflammation plays a key role in the pathogenesis of MPN. The immediate goal is to identify what drives excessive inflammation in MPN and to leverage this knowledge toward the development of therapeutics in MPN. Dr. Fleischman’s long-term goal is to define the mechanisms driving the initial development of MPN for the purpose of developing preventative strategies for those at risk of the disease.
Yaron B. Gesthalter, MD
Yaron B. Gesthalter, M.D. is an interventional pulmonologist practicing in the Thoracic Oncology Group at the University of California in San Francisco. He received his B.Sc from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before completing his medical degree at Tel-Aviv University.
Dr. Gesthalter completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Yale. He then worked for one year as an attending physician on the Tuberculosis ward at The Church of Scotland Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. After returning to the United States, Dr. Gesthalter completed a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care at Boston University where he also completed an additional research fellowship in the Division of Computational Biomedicine. He then completed an Interventional Pulmonary fellowship at the combined Harvard program (Beth-Israel Deaconess and Massachusetts Hospital) before joining the faculty at UCSF. Dr. Gesthalter treats patients with malignant and benign diseases that affect the airways and pleura using minimally invasive endoscopic technique. His research has focused on both cancer risk reduction and minimizing procedural risk to patients.
Julie Gralow, MD
Chief Medical Officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology
Julie R. Gralow, an expert in medical oncology, clinical trials, and global health, is now the Chief Medical Officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. She is Professor emeritus of Medicine/Oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She served as Director of Breast Medical Oncology at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for 13 years. She received her medical degree from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, trained in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and had Medical Oncology fellowship training at the University of Washington/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. Gralow’s specialty and research focus is breast cancer, including the goal of improving the quality of life of patients and survivors through education, exercise, and diet. Her clinical expertise includes investigational breast cancer treatments, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and biologically targeted interventions. Her research focuses on preventing the spread, or metastasis, of breast cancer to the bone. As part of her efforts to improve the lives of cancer patients locally and across the globe, she has launched several support organizations for women cancer survivors, including Team Survivor Northwest, an exercise and fitness program. She founded Women’s Empowerment Cancer Advocacy Network, or WE CAN, a group dedicated to empowering women cancer patient advocates in low- and middle-income countries.
Elisabet Manasanch, MD
Dr. Manasanch is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She graduated with an M.D. degree from the University of Barcelona in 2005 and received an M.H.Sc. in Clinical Research from Duke University in 2014. She pursued internal medicine and medical oncology training at the University of Massachusetts and National Institutes of Health, respectively and is board-certified in both specialties. During her fellowship training at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Manasanch focused on the research and treatment of plasma cell dyscrasias. In 2014, she was awarded the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Clinical Innovator Award to study predictors of outcome after anti-CD38 antibody therapy in intermediate and high-risk smoldering multiple myeloma. She received the International Myeloma Foundation 2015 Brian D. Novis Research Award to implement minimal residual disease testing in multiple myeloma. In 2016, she received the High Impact Clinical Research Support Program Award to support clinical research personnel funding. Currently, she leads the myeloma precursor disease program at MD Anderson with a focus in understanding early stages through new technology and applying immunotherapy to early treatment.
Michael Mauro, MD
Dr. Mauro directs the Myeloproliferative Diseases Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He received his medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School and completed his residency at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. For more than a decade he worked with Dr. Brian Druker at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute in Portland, Oregon with a focus on leukemia research. His clinical expertise is in Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) and myeloproliferative disorders (including MPNs).
Naveen Pemmaraju, MD
Myeloid Leukemias & MPN Clinician
Dr. Naveen Pemmaraju is Associate Professor in the Department of Leukemia at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Pemmaraju is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Hematology and Oncology. He is a clinical investigator with clinical and research interests focused in the areas of analyzing patient characteristics and outcomes as well as development of novel therapies for patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN). Dr. Pemmaraju has extensive experience with clinical trial design, enrollment of patients, and has authored or co-authored over 100 scientific/medical publications in the peer-reviewed literature. He has also published his original work in the field of medical humanities (both prose and poetry) in peer-reviewed medical journals, and is an active member of the medical social media community; he is the founder of #mpnsm, or myeloproliferative neoplasms in social media, a Twitter-based community focused on discussion of topics of interest to MPN researchers, providers and patients during medical conferences and throughout the year.
Jason Westin, MD
Dr. Westin is the Director of the Lymphoma Clinical Research Program and the Section Chief for Aggressive Lymphoma at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma. His research interests include designing and conducting innovative clinical trials, the development of new drugs, and new methods to improve outcomes for patients with lymphoma. Dr. Westin believes that clinical research is our best weapon in the fight against cancer, and has designed and conducted numerous clinical trials to find new cures for cancer. He has presented his research at national and international conferences, including the American Society of Hematology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American College of Clinical Pharmacology, and the Lymphoma Research Foundation.
William Wierda, MD, PhD
Dr. Wierda is a professor and center medical director for the Department of Leukemia at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He earned his PhD and MD from the University of Health Sciences at Chicago Medical School and his post-graduate education in internal medicine was at Duke University. This was followed by a fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at University of California at San Diego, where he was trained under the mentorship of Dr. Thomas Kipps. Dr. Wierda’s particular research interests in CLL are prognostic factors and developing prognostic models in CLL, immune and gene therapies for patients with CLL, developing chemoimmunotherapy regimens and treatment strategies for relapsed and refractory patients with CLL.