Mission: Cure Team
Megan Golden is the co-founder of Mission: Cure, which is using outcome-based financing and impact investing to demonstrate a new model for curing disease, beginning with chronic pancreatitis, a devastating disease afflicting her younger brother.
Megan has 25 years of experience developing and launching innovative programs in multiple fields including criminal justice, child welfare, mental health, and eldercare, as a senior executive at the Vera Institute of Justice and at the Institute for Child Success. Significant projects include helping South Carolina use Pay for Success financing to fund a $30 million expansion of early childhood services to low-income families (the largest Pay for Success project in the world), leading a major reform of New Orleans’ criminal justice system in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and creating a successful alternative to detention for people in immigration proceedings.
Megan has also published extensively on Pay for Success financing and performance measurement. She served on McKinsey & Company’s advisory group for its work on Social Impact Bonds, and as a Fellow at the New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where she taught performance management and directed the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service.
In 1994, Megan was awarded a White House Fellowship. She has a BA in political science from Brown University and a JD, magna cum laude, from the New York University School of Law.
Linda Martin has been a serial entrepreneur, corporate executive, consultant, and board member for more than 30 years. She has launched, managed and advised dozens of companies in the mobile telecom and “Internet of Things” industries. Linda is the founder and president of Martin Strategic Solutions helping early and growth stage companies with corporate/business development, creating and implementing new strategies and making introductions to strategic partners and customers in the US and abroad. She has also conceived and coordinated a successful impact investment in innovative cancer research and therapies.
In mid-2017, Linda’s daughter was diagnosed with Chronic Pancreatitis and Linda began researching available treatments and cures. She quickly discovered that pancreatitis is not widely understood and that there is a need for new approaches and models to discover more effective treatments with better outcomes. Linda also saw an urgent need for advocacy, funding, research, education and collaboration in the mission to find a cure to enable pancreatitis patients to live better, healthier lives.
Mission: Cure co-founder Eric Golden is the founder and Managing Director of Fluential Partners, LLC. From 2015-2019, he served as Managing Director of Armory Securities, a middle-market investment bank located in the Los Angeles area. Prior to his career in investment banking, Eric served as CEO of several ventures, including Equipois Inc., a venture-backed developer of exoskeleton technologies for industries, military and medical applications, and Luminys Systems Corp, the world’s leading provider of high intensity lighting solutions. He also served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Panavision Inc., Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the Washington Redskins, and Vice President and Special Counsel to the Chairman of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc.
Eric holds a JD from Harvard Law School and a BA in Public Policy from Brown University.
Eric is also a chronic pancreatitis patient. Since his diagnosis in 2012, he has tried to learn as much as he can about the disease and to help those who suffer from it, most of whom have much more severe symptoms and complications. Eric serves on the Board of Directors of the National Pancreas Foundation and is the foundation’s Southern California Chapter Chair. He also serves on the board of directors of the Collaborative Alliance for Pancreatic Education and Research. Eric lives in Santa Monica, California with his wife Rebecca and their three children.
Avi Khullar leads Mission: Cure’s efforts to develop and implement patient-centered strategies to improve quality of care and drive measurable improvement in patient outcomes.
Avi is passionate about integrating the principles of human-centered innovation and systems change to design complex systems to improve the experience and outcomes for underserved groups and communities. She has spent the last 15 years in the nonprofit sector, including government and philanthropic organizations, to improve outcomes for youth, families, and communities in K-12 education, child welfare system and the criminal justice system.
An entrepreneur at heart, she has worked in rapidly evolving and ambiguous environments, collaborated across functions, and brought together diverse stakeholders in different settings. Selected projects include: developing and prototyping an impact framework for a private foundation; managing a demonstration project and grantmaking strategy to improve educational outcomes of foster youth; and establishing funding and programmatic partnerships between different agencies in New York City to prioritize the needs of children and families.
Avi has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and an MBA from the University of Toronto.
Brooke Keefer is a consultant and advisor for Mission: Cure. She is the author of two books on gastrointestinal diseases, The Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction Survival Guide and Living Well Without a Gallbladder: A Guide to Postcholecystectomy Syndrome; and is currently a member of the National Pancreas Foundation Board of Directors. She also dedicates her time to advocating for patients and assisting mental health, substance abuse, and public health organizations to achieve their goals. For over 15 years, she worked as a nonprofit director, lobbyist, and advocate, and also as a grant manager, writer, and reviewer in the field of children’s mental health, substance abuse, and juvenile justice at the state and national levels. After being diagnosed with sphincter of oddi dysfunction in 2012 and chronic pancreatitis in 2014, Brooke redirected her efforts to the rare disease and gastroenterology field. Brooke earned her Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from the State University of New York at Albany.
Robin Yates is an independent consultant and advisor for Mission: Cure. She operates a consulting practice focused on capacity building for nonprofits and government agencies with missions to advance healthcare and social justice. Her business helps organizations to craft operational strategic plans, develop key partnerships, organize and motivate effectively, create and implement growth programs, and manage transitions.
Before launching her own business, Robin spent 26 years with IBM, the last 15 of which were in the public sector where she focused on launching the Life Sciences business by making select investments and developing key partnerships, negotiating outsourcing agreements with payers, providers, and pharmaceutical companies, and developing outcome-based deal structures for hospitals and departments of education alike.
Robin has a triple major from Vanderbilt University, an Executive MBA from University of Colorado, and a Certificate in Arts Administration from NYU.
Monica Thornton is a consultant and advisor for Mission: Cure. She is a creative, problem-solving, entrepreneurial leader who supports organizations and small businesses grow and thrive. Monica has proven expertise in fundraising including grant writing, individual impact investing, major donations and events. As the director of the international program at the Vera Institute of Justice she led multidisciplinary and multicultural teams tackle complex issues in a variety of settings including judicial reform, human trafficking, policing reform, and the use measurement to identify human rights abuses and possible improvements. She has focused on launching new initiatives and provides both strategic vision and operational support to develop effective and efficient processes. As an internationalist, she is particularly drawn to the urgency of increasing attention to difficult to diagnose, rare and forgotten diseases. She has a passion for innovation that extends to novel approaches to curing disease, which is why she is passionately drawn to Mission: Cure. Her mother died of pancreatic cancer, her father of multiple sclerosis and aunt of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She has a BA in political science from Smith College and a JD from the University of California Berkeley Law.
Gabriela Gil is an undergraduate student at Brown University studying Health & Human Biology, with a focus on Global Health. During her time at Brown University, she has been a research assistant on a project regarding the potential of smartphone applications in sexual health education, an afterschool volunteer teacher at a local elementary school, and a leader in the university’s two outdoor experience programs. Additionally, she has studied social entrepreneurship, where she saw the potential of social impact models in addressing some of the devastating limitations of current medical systems. Her work with Mission: Cure sits at that intersection and is driven by the possibility of creating accessible treatments for diseases that affect the well-being of individuals around the world. In her free time, she enjoys reading, taking photos, and learning new skills.
Sofia Garcia oversees Mission: Cure’s digital outreach and publications. As Communications Coordinator, she is responsible for implementing and developing Mission: Cure’s communications and social media strategies. She also coordinates Mission: Cure’s Patient Education program and is passionate about making sure all patients receive comprehensive care and have access to resources to help them navigate through their disease.
Prior to joining Mission: Cure, Sofia worked in communications and social media for Next Generation Men & Women, a nonprofit in Atlanta that helps under-resourced students gain access to exposure and support so they can achieve their post-secondary goals.
Sofia is a recent graduate of Emory University, where she earned a B.A. in International Studies and a minor in Linguistics. She is passionate about creating a more equitable world and helping underserved communities.
Minty Pham oversees Mission: Cure’s operations and assists Mission: Cure’s Co-Directors with the implementation of programs that advance the organization’s goals. Also responsible for coordinating development efforts, she is devoted to building Mission: Cure’s internal fundraising capacity.
Prior to joining Mission: Cure, Minty worked in communications for Concordia, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to facilitating cross-sector partnerships for social impact. She also has experience in global health, international development, and refugee resettlement.
Minty recently graduated from Brown University, where she studied International Relations. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, watching cooking shows, and walking her dog, Shakira.
Mission: Cure Advisors
Professor Bruce Aronow is the John Hutton MD Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Co-director of the Computational Medicine Center at Cincinnati Children’s and has developed a computable data model network for chronic pancreatitis that helped determine which drugs were most likely to correct the biological problems causing pancreatitis. The model links known genetic mutations to biological pathways and the gene signature of pancreatic cell types using Mouse and Human Single Cell Atlas data. These normal gene networks could then be connected to disease mechanisms and therapeutic targets to improve identification of drugs could increase or decrease risks of the causes and symptoms of chronic pancreatitis.
Dr. Aronow earned his BS in Chemistry at Stanford University in 1976 and his PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Kentucky in 1986. He completed his Research Fellowship at the Division of Basic Science Research, Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation from 1986 to 1989. His patents include CFTR modifier genes and expressed polypeptides useful in treating cystic fibrosis and methods and products for detecting and/or identifying same and Altered gene expression profiles in stable versus acute childhood asthma.
Dr. Melena Bellin is a leading expert on islet transplantation for patients with Type 1 diabetes mellitus and those who have had their pancreas removed to treat chronic pancreatic disease, including chronic pancreatitis. Dr. Bellin is Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School, where she completed medical school, pediatric residency and pediatric and endocrine fellowships. She also completed a Masters in Science in Clinical Research at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. Dr. Bellin has published extensively on the subject of TPIAT, islet transplantation and advances in diabetes research and a frequent presenter at medical conferences around the world. Dr. Bellin has been recognized as an Innovator in Translational Research and is greatly admired and beloved by both her adult and pediatric patients.
Dr. Bruce Bloom is Chief Collaboration Officer at Healx, which brings sensibly-priced repurposed therapies to rare disease patient communities using artificial and human intelligence in new ways. Until 2019, he was Chief Executive Officer of Cures Within Reach, a nonprofit saving lives by repurposing human approved drugs, devices, diagnostics and nutraceuticals to quickly deliver safe and affordable treatments and cures for diseases that have no currently effective therapy. Cures Within Reach uses CureAccelerator™, the only global online repurposing research collaboration platform, to bring together clinicians, researchers, funders, and industry to create and conduct pilot clinical trials that drive more treatments to more patients more quickly.
Dr. Bloom became an Ashoka Social Entrepreneur Fellow for his system-changing solutions to finding new treatments for unsolved diseases. He is the Patient Advisory Board Chair for the Institute for Translational Medicine, Board member of the Drug Discovery Center at the University of Illinois, the Director of Scientific Affairs for Vision for Tomorrow, on the Science Advisory Boards of Rediscovery Life Sciences, the GARROD AKU Consortium, the Dr. Ralph and Marian Falk Medical Research Trust Awards Programs, the Findacure Fundamental Disease Charity, and Healx, LTD, is the Chair of the Governance Committee of the Kendall College Charitable Trust, is a member of the Board of Councilors of Midwestern University, and a member of the editorial board of ASSAY and Drug Development Technologies. Dr. Bloom holds a Juris Doctor degree from the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from University of Illinois Medical Center, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from University of Illinois. He is an adjunct faculty member at Kendall College, has been a lecturer at the University of Illinois Chicago since 1990, and was a senior lecturer at Northwestern University Dental School for 6 years.
Dr. Ford-Hutchinson is currently a Board Member or Scientific Advisor to multiple startup companies, including the position of CSO of Rbonova Inc, as well as not for profit organizations including the Hepatitis B Foundation, SAGE Bionetworks, the Wellcome Trust, CARB-X and CEPI. Tony has over 40 years of experience in pharmaceuticals, including an extensive tenure at Merck & Co. At Merck Frosst, Canada, Tony led teams that developed Singulair®, Cox-2 inhibitors (Vioxx® and Arcoxia®), prostaglandin DP receptor antagonist (a component of Tredaptive®) and Cat K inhibitors (odanacatib) making the Merck Frosst Laboratories the most productive discovery unit of Merck. Subsequent career highlights at Merck relating to infectious disease include the development of HIV integrase inhibitor Isentress® and development & licensing of therapies to tackle drug-resistant bacterial infections. Tony’s most recent responsibility at Merck as head of Vaccine R&D led to the commercialization of 4 vaccines; Gardasil®, Zostavax®, Proquad® and Rotateq®.
Dr. Mark Haupt, MD is the Chief Medical Officer of Ariel Precision Medicine, an integrated genomics and digital health company delivering precision medicine solutions for the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of complex chronic diseases and disorders such as pancreatitis. Dr. Haupt is a Pediatric Pulmonologist who has dedicated his career to helping patients with pancreatic disease through his work in academia, the pharmaceutical industry, and his current work with Ariel. Dr. Haupt was previously with AbbVie Pharmaceuticals, quickly accelerating from their Physician Professional Development Program to a leadership role in the US Medical Affairs organization and earning the President’s Award. He completed a residency in general pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medical Center, earning intern and resident of the year awards. After serving an additional year as Chief Resident, Dr. Haupt completed a fellowship in Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. His research focus was cystic fibrosis, specifically examining epidemiological data to evaluate nutritional outcomes.
Mickey Levitan is currently serving as a Visiting Fellow at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, where he is conducting R&D for an innovative program to enable promising nonprofits to tackle perennial organizational development and financial challenges that limit broader impact and sustainability. Before joining the School of Philanthropy, Mickey was Founder and CEO of an educational technology company undertaking a major system change effort to shape the way digital course materials are used in higher education.
Mickey has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Emmis Communications, Director of Human Resources for Apple, and Executive Director for Organizational Effectiveness at Cummins Inc., building world-class workplaces recognized in numerous “Best Places to Work” awards. Mickey’s early career was spent with Peace Corps in Africa and directing the Save the Children program in Thailand. Returning from overseas, Mickey served as a White House Fellow, working in the office of the Vice President.
Mickey received his Bachelor of Arts with high distinction from Dartmouth College. He attended Stanford University and earned an MBA from the Graduate School of Business, an MA from the Stanford Food Research Institute and was selected by his MBA classmates as the Arbuckle Award winner for outstanding contribution. In addition to speaking a wee bit of English, Mickey has gained fluency in four other languages: French, Thai, Bengali, and Wolof.
Stephen Pandol, MD, is Director of Basic and Translational Research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Professor of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles. His career has been devoted to understanding the mechanisms of pancreatic diseases, both inflammatory and malignant. He leads lab based studies using mechanistic understanding to develop new therapeutics and clinical projects at the local and national level to test prevention and treatment strategies for pancreatic diseases. Dr. Pandol attended medical school at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Click here for more on Dr. Pandol.
Charles Roussel recently completed a seven-year tenure as CEO of the College of American Pathologists. Prior to that he oversaw a $300 million portfolio of preventive health and education programs for the Atlantic Philanthropies. For much of his career, Mr. Roussel was a partner and managing partner with the global consultancy Accenture, where he worked with pharmaceutical and technology companies on corporate strategy and organizational effectiveness. He’s been a trustee and chairman of health-related nonprofits and currently serves on the Patient and Family Advisory Council at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Most recently, he founded Reflective Strategies LLC, where he assists established and newly launched healthcare companies on issues of strategic importance. Mr. Roussel received a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Science degree from Bentley University.
Dr. Ashok Saluja obtained his doctoral degree in Biochemistry from Washington State University in 1980. After a post-doctoral stint at Cornell University, he joined Harvard Medical School where he rose to the rank of Associate Professor in Surgery. After twenty years at Harvard, he joined University of Massachusetts Medical School as Professor of Surgery, Medicine and Cell Biology and Director of Pancreatic Diseases Center. In 2006, he joined the faculty of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School as Professor and Vice Chair. He also held the Sit Family Chair in Pancreatic and GI cancer research. The University of Minnesota conferred him McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in 2014, one of the highest honors in the university. In 2016 Dr. Saluja relocated to University of Miami as Professor and Vice Chair of Research and Faculty Development of Surgery, Senior Associate Dean for Research, and Director of the Sylvester Pancreatic Cancer Research Institute. Dr. Saluja’s research focuses on understanding the physiology of the pancreas and the pathophysiology of pancreatic diseases. He is internationally renowned for his work on the pathogenesis of pancreatitis. His group has recently shown that pancreatic tumors overexpress Heat Shock Protein 70 and its inhibition causes death of these cells not only in in vitro settings but also in mouse models of pancreatic cancer. Dr. Saluja’s group has developed a novel drug, which they have named Minnelide (due to its origin from Minnesota).
Dr. Saluja has published more than 160 original research papers in peer-reviewed international journals along with several review articles and book chapters. His research has been funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and several biotechnology companies in addition to philanthropic support. Additionally, he is an inventor on several patents. He is one of the largest NIH-funded investigators at the University of Miami. He also is CSO and co-founder of a start-up biotechnology company Minneamrita Therapeutics. Over the years Dr. Saluja has been invited to give numerous state-of-the art lectures and keynote addresses at national and international meetings. He has served on NIH panels and the editorial boards of several scientific journals. He is currently Associate Editor of Gastroenterology. He is the past president of American Pancreatic Association (APA) and International Association of Pancreatology (IAP). He is currently Secretary-Treasurer of American Pancreatic Association. Dr. Saluja was honored with the prestigious George Palade Award by IAP in 2013, a lifetime achievement award by the APA in 2014, and a medal from the Australian Society of Medical Research in 2015.