2020 Advisory Council
The Advisory Council of Gift from a Child exists to offer strategic advice and act as a resource for advancing the program’s two goals:
- Creating the possibility for any family, no matter where they might live in the country, to be able to choose post-mortem donation for their child. In addition, the family is assured the stewardship of their child’s gift provides maximum benefit for the research community.
- To effect a cultural change whereby the post-mortem donation of pediatric brain tumors becomes the rule for all tumor types and not the exception. These priceless donations empower research to find answers to why current therapies are failing our children.
We are proud and grateful to have the following people supporting the work of Gift from a Child.
Cindy Campbell, Ty Louis Campbell Foundation
Cindy Campbell is the founder of three nonprofit initiatives, including the Ty Louis Campbell (TLC) Foundation, the Muddy Puddles Project, and the Pret*ty Store. All of which support childhood cancer research initiatives through the TLC Foundation. In 2018, Campbell was named Program Director of the Children’s Brain Tumor Project at Weill Cornell Medicine, a research lab focused on improving outcomes for children with brain tumors. Campbell’s oldest son, Ty, was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was 2 ½ years old, and he passed away just days after his fifth birthday. Her son’s cancer journey inspired her to change the course of her life and redirect her focus toward changing the paradigm for other children faced with a cancer diagnosis.
Meghan Gould, Emily Smiles Foundation
Meghan Gould is the Executive Director of The Emily’s Smiles Foundation, which funds critical research for pediatric brain cancer. Meghan and her family began their involvement with The Swifty Foundation and Gift from a Child after her daughter, Emily, passed away from AT/RT weeks before her 2nd birthday, in 2016. Emily was diagnosed when she was 6 months old and was treated at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Emily’s tissue was donated to The Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC) through the Swifty Foundation and Meghan has since been an advocate for the importance of tissue donation. She spends her professional career in institutional development and fundraising as a Principal Giving Officer at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.
Al Gustafson, Swifty Foundation
Al Gustafson is the board chair of the Swifty Foundation, a non-profit public charity funding pediatric brain cancer research. Swifty Foundation was started by his son, Michael, who passed away from Medulloblastoma in 2013. It has since granted more than 4 million dollars to research and advocacy, the majority of which has been invested in increasing post-mortem collection. He serves on the advisory council of the Children’s Brain Tumor Network and CBTN/PNOC’s medulloblastoma working group. Al has spent much of his career working for non-profit organizations. He and his wife live in Woodridge, IL and they have two adult children.
Patti Gustafson, Swifty Foundation
Patti Gustafson is the Executive Director of the Swifty Foundation, working alongside her husband, Al as they work to make their son, Michael’s Master Plan a reality. His plan was to donate his “body” to science so researchers could find a cure for other children. His Master Plan has become Swifty’s Master Plan: creating a national program for post-mortem tissue donation. Patti’s background as a first-grade teacher does not come in to play in her daily work now, but that CPA she got as an undergrad does come in handy. While raising her three children she served on the boards of the Ounce of Prevention Fund and the Gustafson Family Foundation. Patti has been married to Al for 31 years and wishes her two adult children would move closer to home!
Jeffrey P. Greenfield, MD, PhD, Children’s Brain Tumor Project
Dr. Greenfield, co-director of the Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM) Children’s Brain Tumor Project, is a board-certified neurosurgeon who specializes in pediatric neurosurgery at Weill Cornell Medicine, Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Columbia University Medical Center. Compassionate clinical care, research, and education are all central to his philosophy as a neurosurgeon and physician, and he is a strong proponent of transitional neurosurgery –caring for patients with specific conditions from childhood through adulthood. He is also the named Vice Chairman of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at WCM. Dr. Greenfield’s Bio
Dr. Mateusz Koptyra, Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine
Dr. Koptyra is a Senior Scientist responsible for initiation, coordination and implementation of scientific projects around the Center’s research units. His team identifies the research demands at the clinical level and creates pipelines for projects to test the research proposals at a pre-clinical level, with a primary focus on quality data generation in genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic tumor profiling for the biomarker search. Mateusz is also responsible for exploration and validation of the platforms to be utilized for Center’s pipelines, and improvements of sample collection, handling and storage methods to empower the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium pipeline. His research focuses on non-invasive diagnostics in pediatric brain tumors, biomarker search, cell-free DNA/RNA, and extra-cellular vesicles, including the development of non-invasive medulloblastoma tumor profiling using circulating in blood tumor material (cell-free DNA). Dr. Koptyra’s Bio
Jennifer Mason, Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium
Jennifer Mason is responsible for the day-to-day management and oversight for the research projects that are in planning and launched within the Clinical Research Unit (CRU) and Biospecimen Research Unit (BRU) in the Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. This includes her role as Director of Operations for the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC) and its alignment and collaboration with the Gift from a Child program. She directs and coordinates the operations, ensuring adherence to standards, improving performance, productivity and efficiency of projects.
Ginny McLean, Swifty Foundation
Ginny is the Outreach and Communications Director for Swifty Foundation. Ginny’s expertise in fundraising, social marketing and non-profit communications has been a key component in launching Gift from a Child. Ginny works directly with our Tissue Navigator Team. Ginny is an experienced business consultant, fundraiser and power networker. She is out in the pediatric cancer community building collaborative partnerships to further the work of Swifty Foundation and build strategic alliances for fueling research. Ginny is the voice of Gift from a Child at events, conferences and collaborating with our partner foundations and hospital teams. She plays an active leadership role in organizations focused on cures for pediatric cancer and serves on the Board of Directors for the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer (CAC2).
Jane Minturn, MD, PhD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Dr. Jane Minturn is a pediatric neuro-oncologist who specializes in the care of infants, children and young adults with brain and spinal cord tumors. Her research interests are in identifying mechanisms of treatment resistance (tumor hypoxia, autophagy) to target therapeutically, and the use of non-invasive imaging biomarkers for monitoring treatment efficacy on clinical trials. She is an attending physician in the Center for Childhood Cancer Research and Division of Oncology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Minturn’s Bio
Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, Stanford University
Dr. Monje joined the faculty at Stanford University in 2011 as an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neuro-Oncology. Dr. Monje received her MD and PhD in Neuroscience from Stanford University. She then completed neurology residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School program. The scope of her research program encompasses the molecular determinants of neural precursor cell fate, neuronal-glial interactions, and the role of neural precursor cells in oncogenesis and repair mechanisms. As a practicing neurologist and neuro-oncologist, Dr Monje is dedicated to understanding the neurodevelopmental origins of pediatric brain tumors and the neurological consequences of cancer treatment. Dr. Monje’s Bio
Javad Nazarian, Ph.D., M.Sc., Children National Hospital & DIPG Research Institute of Zurich
Dr. Javad Nazarian was appointed as the Head of the DIPG Research Institute in 2019. Javad was previously an investigator at the Center for Genetic Medicine in Children’s National Medical Center, Washington D.C. and as an assistant professor in Integrative Systems Biology at the George Washington University. His laboratory has been involved in establishing in vivo models of brainstem gliomas as well as generating the molecular profile of the disease. These include proteomics, genomics, microRNA and mRNA profiles. HIs multidisciplinary research team ongoing research involves characterizing in vivo and in vitro models of brainstem gliomas, developing nanoparticles-mediated strategies for specific targeting of tumor cells, and assessment of non-hormonal steroids for treatment of pediatric brain tumors. Dr. Nazarian’s Bio
Mark M. Souweidane, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.A.P., Weill Cornell Medicine
Dr. Mark M. Souweidane, co-director of the Weill Cornell Medicine Children’s Brain Tumor Project, is internationally recognized as a leader in pediatric neurosurgery, with a career focus on CNS tumors of childhood. He is the Vice Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the Weill Cornell Medical College and director of pediatric neurosurgery at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Medical Center, Columbia University Medical Center, and Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Souweidane’s clinical and scholarly contributions have helped define the contemporary fields of minimally invasive endoscopic surgery and direct drug delivery for brain tumors. He directs a translational laboratory focusing on novel drug delivery techniques for childhood brain tumors. Dr. Souweidane’s Bio
Angela Waanders, MD, MPH, Lurie Children’s Hospital
Director, Precision Medicine Oncology; Program Director, Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Fellowship; Executive Board Chair, Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium; Associate Professor of Pediatrics (Hematology, Oncology, and Stem Cell Transplantation), Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Max Lacewell Endowed Brain Tumor Research Scholar. Dr. Waanders is a pediatric neuro-oncologist with interest in genomic profiling, molecular biology, clinical informatics, and biobanking. She completed training in both general pediatrics and pediatric hematology-oncology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her translational research at the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute of Lurie Children’s, Dr. Waander’s focus is on developing novel therapeutic strategies to develop less toxic, more effectivive for children with brain tumors. Dr. Waander’s Bio
Kristine and David Wetzel – Co-Founders McKenna Claire Foundation
Kristine and Dave lost their youngest daughter, McKenna, to Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG – a terminal upon diagnosis brain cancer) in 2011 just 6 months after her diagnosis. Having scoured the world for a viable treatment for McKenna, and finding none, they knew something had to be done to change the equation for children diagnosed with brain cancer. With the help of family and friends, they established the McKenna Claire Foundation For Pediatric Brain Cancer Research. In the almost 9 years of existence, the foundation has granted approximately 4 million dollars to cutting edge researchers in U.S. Dave left his career in the auto industry to serve as the Executive Director of MCF. Kristine continues to teach high school U.S. History, as well as serve on several pediatric brain cancer advocacy and advisory boards in addition to her duties at McKenna Claire Foundation