Melissa has extensive experience in Biotech industry specializing in the pathology field studying cancer, immunotherapy and tumor biology, immunology, and neuroscience. Her husband David Ucasz suddenly became ill and was diagnosed with widespread metastatic cardiac angiosarcoma. After radiation and chemo including Taxol+Gemzar, Taxol +Avastin, Doxil, Navelbine, and Ixmepra + Pazopanib David passed away in 2011. That year Melissa formed team “Riding for Dave! SUCK IT Sarcoma” and leads the San Francisco satellite for Cycle For Survival raising funds for Memorial Sloan Kettering & angiosarcoma research.
“My goal for Angiosarcoma Awareness is to increase awareness & enrollment in clinical trials particularly for first in class and combination treatments by 1- Alerting patients of eligible trials 2- Educating patients on safety, enrollment criteria & clinical trial stages 3- helping to push the science in whatever way possible to understand the disease. For patients with metastatic disease it is extremely important to explore the various options for investigative treatments & enrollment opportunities preferably by immediate intervention & enrollment early on if possible, or to help extend life after heavy doses or multiple therapies have already been part of the treatment plan. Sarcomas are exceptionally difficult to understand and treat. AS patients should be aware of every option. Everyone deserves to have someone thinking outside of the box for them & fighting every step of the way to extend their life if that is what they choose to pursue.”
Corrie Painter, PhD
In 2010 I was diagnosed with primary angiosarcoma of the breast. At the time, I was just about to graduate with a PhD in biochemistry from The University of Massachusetts Medical School. In 2011, after two surgeries and a few rounds of chemotherapy, I made it back to the lab and defended my thesis. I went on to conduct postdoctoral studies in cancer immunology through a grant from the Cancer Research Institute before taking a position at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. As the Associate Director of Operations and Scientific Outreach, I combine my scientific background with my patient experiences to launch and oversee several direct-to-patients genomics initiatives, including the Angiosarcoma Project (ASCproject.org).
Shortly after my diagnosis, I met Lauren Ryan, who had started a facebook support group for angiosarcoma cancer. She was also at the beginning stages of founding Angiosarcoma Awareness, Inc. We partnered up and decided to move forward as a team. As the Vice President my principal responsibilities are initiating contact with and providing funding for clinicians and basic researchers who are interested in conducting angiosarcoma research. The goal of our organization is to foster a collaborative atmosphere between the researchers that we fund in order to generate data and reagents that can be shared by the sarcoma community as a whole. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to learn more about our research initiatives.
Travis Thomson, PhD
Event Coordinator/Marketing Officer
Ted Painter is our Event Coordinator. His primary responsibilities include planning, coordinating, and directing our annual Angiosarcoma Awareness, Inc 5K and Kid’s road race and other local events. As the Marketing Officer, Ted designs, orders, tracks, maintains, and mails all Angiosarcoma Awareness, Inc. marketing materials and online gift shop items.
Michael S. Mandell
After undergoing both Moh’s and plastic surgery to remove what was originally diagnosed as a spindle cell carcinoma on his nose, Michael Mandell thought he’d experienced his share of trauma. However, when a small spot re-appeared, he asked for another biospsy. Four months and several misdiagnoses later, Mike was informed he had Angiosarcoma. Retesting of the original tumor confirmed the diagnosis. The devastating news sent Mike, his family and close friends on a search for specialists and answers, both of which they found, were in rare supply. Mike went to some well known Sarcoma Centers and then ultimately got treatment consisting of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery at the University of Miami Sylvester Cancer Center. Today, he is a eleven year survivor of Sarcoma.
Mike’s challenges in dealing with his illness moved him to action. He became the Florida State Chapter Leader and soon thereafter was elected as a Board Member for the Sarcoma Foundation of America (SFA) where he served for five years. .At the end of 2013 he joined the board of Angiosarcoma Awareness where he also serves as treasurer. He started the Annual 5K Run/Walk for a Sarcoma Cure he established has helped raise over $400K to fund Sarcoma research grants for the SFA. He will now continue those efforts for Angiosarcoma Awareness. Additionally, he worked with several cancer and educational institutions to facilitate seminars throughout the state to provide education and advocacy efforts on behalf of Sarcoma patients and medial research.
Beyond his prior work with the SFA and now Angiosarcoma Awareness, Mike has been actively involved in the community. He has served as a Youth Administrator for the Plantation Athletic League and coached his sons in baseball for more than 12 years. In his day job, Mike has been Corporate Collections Manager for the past 21 years at Ryder System, Inc., a FORTUNE 500® provider of transportation and supply chain management solutions.
Mike resides in Plantation, FL. with Heidi, his wife of 24 years, and sons Eric (age 22) and Kyle (age 18).
Dr. Pozzi is the Fellows’ Administrative Program Manager in the Office of Fellowship Training at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH). As the Fellows’ Program Manager, Dr. Pozzi develops educational and professional development workshops for BCH’s clinical and research fellows. Before receiving her PhD, Lu-Ann worked in industry on the development of both adjuvant-assisted subunit and DNA HIV vaccines. Lu-Ann returned to graduate school at UMASSMED (where she met Corrie) and received her PhD in 2004. Her first postdoc focused on examining the role of macrophages and dendritic cells in the oral transmission of HIV/SIV through breast milk as well as the role of B cells in the development of HIV-induced encephalitis. Her second postdoc focused on the virus-specific cellular immune responses induced by recombinant herpes simplex virus vaccine vectors for SIV. During her second postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Pozzi developed an in vivo cytotoxicity assay in non-human primates with the hope that it will be advantageous over current assays in predicting the protective efficacy of AIDS vaccine candidates in non-human primates.
After losing both of her parents to cancer (her mother to a rare cancer) and her friends, Corrie’s and Mary’s, diagnosis, Lu-Ann decided to use her scientific expertise to help fight the beast. Lu-Ann serves as ASA’s secretary as well as on the Scientific Advisory board helping to review grant applications.