Congratulations to the Recipients of the 1st Gregg Stracks Award for Emerging Leaders in Ocular Melanoma

Dear Family & Friends,

I hope this letter finds you doing well. I can’t believe it has been 15 months since Gregg transitioned. I miss him terribly and I know there is a void in our community and in all of our lives. Yet, Gregg continues to be present in so many ways—his legacy, in many ways, continues to live and grow. Thanks to the generosity of many of you, the Gregg Stracks Memorial Fund we established with the Melanoma Research Foundation’s CURE Ocular Melanoma (CURE OM) initiative is one area where Gregg’s legacy continues. CURE OM is the initiative Gregg and I co-founded with the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) in the fall of 2011 to accelerate ocular melanoma research and enhance awareness, education, and support for people affected by the disease. I’m writing with good news to tell you that through the Gregg Stracks Memorial Fund, we have recently established an award for junior investigators!

I am thrilled to announce the first two recipients of the Gregg Stracks Award for Emerging Leaders in Ocular Melanoma: Martina Angi, M.D., and Mizue Terai, Ph.D. This monetary award of up to $1,000 each, made possible by the MRF’s CURE OM Gregg Stracks Memorial Fund, will off-set travel expenses incurred for the recipients to attend the May 3, 2013 CURE OM Scientific Meeting at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, WA.   

Dr. Angi is a Clinical Research Fellow in Ocular Oncology working with Drs. Bertil Damato and Sarah Coupland at the University of Liverpool Ocular Oncology Centre UK. Her long-term objective is to become a clinical academic in ocular oncology, and she hopes to develop a better screening protocol for earlier detection of metastatic disease in uveal (ocular) melanoma patients. Her dream, as a clinician and as a scientist, is to find an adjuvant treatment to cure uveal melanoma patients before they develop metastatic disease, thereby saving their lives and not just their eyes.

Dr. Terai is currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Takami Sato at Thomas Jefferson University as a postdoctoral fellow/laboratory manager in the Melanoma Translational Research Program. Her career goal is to develop a novel cancer immunotherapy to induce strong and long-lasting anti-tumor immune responses against uveal melanoma.

The Gregg Stracks Award for Emerging Leaders in Ocular Melanoma recognizes the recipients' noteworthy accomplishments and their potential to significantly advance the field of ocular melanoma. Additionally, we believe the recipients exemplify, and will continue to embody, Gregg’s legacy of deep compassion, leadership excellence, advocacy, fierce dedication and scientific collaboration that will be necessary if more effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure for ocular melanoma are to be realized.

We plan to give the Gregg Stracks Award for Emerging Leaders twice a year to enable recipients to attend the semi-annual CURE OM Scientific Meetings. We believe enabling researchers who are early in their careers to attend these important meetings will give them opportunities to develop valuable connections and possible collaborations, exchange ideas, and learn more about the latest findings and promising areas of focus in the ocular melanoma field. Having access to these opportunities will help facilitate talented young researchers to enter and stay in the ocular melanoma field. By supporting individual potential and potential collaboration and contributions to the field, we also believe we are continuing Gregg’s legacy and core values. The fall CURE OM Scientific Meeting will be held November 17, 2013, in Philadelphia—this meeting is a collaboration between the MRF’s CURE OM, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Society for Melanoma Research Congress.

I would like to extend my most sincere appreciation to all past and future donors to the CURE OM Gregg Stracks Memorial Fund for making this award possible. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Angi and Dr. Terai and look forward to their participation in the meeting in May and to their continued contributions to the field.

With love & gratitude,

You can click here to donate to the MRF's CURE OM Gregg Stracks Memorial Fund.

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