Mission: Cure Team

Megan Golden, Co-Director

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, Co-Director

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.

Eric Golden, Co-Founder

Eric Golden is the co-founder of Mission: Cure. Since 2015, he has served as Managing Director of Armory Securities, a middle-market investment bank located in the Los Angeles area.  Prior to Armory, he 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.

Brooke Valerino, Consultant

Brooke KeeferBrooke 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.

Zixi (Jessica) Zhu, Intern

Zixi (Jessica) Zhu is a rising junior at Brown University concentrating in Cognitive Science. She’s interested in health and holistic medicine, especially complementary/alternative ways of healing. At Brown, she does research on the use of mindfulness meditation in clinical settings, and develops group independent study projects on topics including traditional Chinese medicine and food as medicine. In her spare time, she plays table tennis for Brown, enjoys conversations with passionate people, and goes on a long-distance train trip once a year. 

Gabriela Gil, Intern

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.

Daniel Morgan, Intern

Daniel Morgan is a rising senior at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, MD. Daniel has had a passion for community service since he was little. Daniel has served as school treasurer, BBYO chapter treasurer, and council treasurer raising over $18,000 in total. As well as, chapter recruiter and chapter director of community service. His work with Mission: Cure dives into the genetic drivers of pancreatitis and the potential targets for applicable and new drug therapies. Daniel also enjoys playing tennis for his school varsity team, studying genetics, and hanging out with friends.

Mission: Cure Advisors

Bruce E. Bloom

Dr. Bruce Bloom is 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.

Jeffrey Kang, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Kang is President of the ChenMed Family of Companies, which is reshaping American healthcare through innovative primary care for the neediest populations. ChenMed is a full-risk model that provides high-quality, coordinated care for low-to-moderate income seniors with 42 centers in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana and Virginia. Before joining the ChenMed Family in 2015, Dr. Kang served as the Senior Vice President of the Walgreens Health and Wellness Services and Solutions Division which ran the company’s emerging healthcare businesses generating over $1.5 billion dollars in revenue. From 2002-2011, Dr. Kang was Chief Medical Officer at CIGNA, where he was responsible for the company’s health strategy and policy for its medical, pharmacy and behavioral products and launching its medical home and accountable care initiatives.

Dr. Kang was selected as a White House Fellow in 1994 and subsequently served as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Chief Clinical Officer responsible for the agency’s quality measurement and improvement efforts, its conditions of participation, and its coverage decisions. Dr. Kang began his career as an internist and geriatrician, and for ten years he served as the executive director of the Urban Medical Group – a nonprofit, private group practice specializing in the care of the frail elderly and disabled, in full-risk, capitated arrangements. He received his MD from the University of California at San Francisco and his MPH from the University of California at Berkeley. He received his clinical training at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital and remained on the clinical faculty at Harvard Medical School for more than 10 years. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of NCQA – the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Mickey Levitan

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

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

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.

Ashok Saluja, PhD

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.

David Whitcomb, MD, PhD

Professor David C. Whitcomb MD PhD is the Giant Eagle Foundation Professor of Cancer Genetics, a Professor of Medicine (with tenure), Cell Biology and Physiology, and Human Genetic and Director of the Precision Medicine Service at UPMC.  He is editor-in-chief of Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology, the top ranked open access gastroenterology and hepatology journal. Dr. Whitcomb leads active research teams focusing on pancreatic diseases, and provides an information service on pancreas-related issues to patients, physicians, and scientist through publications, lectures and contributions to Pancreas.org, and a quarterly patient newsletter, Pancreas Education and Research Letter (PEaRL). Professor Whitcomb’s research and discoveries resulted in a major paradigm shift in understanding inflammatory disease of the pancreas. His work on pancreatic diseases as a complex gene-environment disorder also resulted in major advances in a paradigm for personalized medicine (Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012;9(7):418-24).   Prof. Whitcomb graduated from Manchester University, North Manchester, Indiana, in 1978 with a BS in Biology/Chemistry.  Continuing his education, he received a MS in Physiology in 1979, a PhD in Physiology in 1983, and an MD in 1985 all from the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. He then completed a residency in internal medicine in 1988, followed by a fellowship in gastroenterology in 1991 at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.