Melissa has extensive experience in the 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 Ph.D. 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
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. Ted designs, orders, tracks, maintains and mails all Angiosarcoma Awareness, Inc. marketing materials and online gift shop items.
Michael S. Mandell
Corporate Sponsor Development
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 an 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 medical 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).
Charissa Kerr joined the Angiosarcoma Awareness Board in 2019 as the Secretary/Treasurer. With degrees in accounting and economics, as well as an MBA with a concentration in international business Charissa is well-suited for these roles. In addition, she has served as Treasurer on multiple non-profit boards across New England. She has amassed a vast array of knowledge in her 25-plus years of business experience, 15 of which have been in the non-profit sector. She is currently the Chief Financial Officer at Gulf of Maine Research Institute, in Portland, ME, a multi-million dollar, a non-profit organization focused on pioneering collaborative solutions to global ocean challenges.
Charissa has many personal accomplishments in the philanthropic world, including signing up over 2,500 people for the Bone Marrow Registry, obtaining non-profit status for her fire department association, and serving on an international board to bring Hungarians to America as Fellows. Charissa has also been a CPR instructor since 2007.
Outside of work, Charissa and her husband are both firefighters and EMTs in Raymond, Maine. They pair their love of athletics with their philanthropic goals, often running races and climbing stairs for charity. They have two children, ages 11 and 7, that keep them on their toes.
Says Charissa about joining Angiosarcoma Awareness, “I am honored to be able to put some of my experience to use for such an amazing, brilliant and passionate group of people.”