From the Heart: Personal Stories, Public Causes

Contributed by:

Kim Ribbink

NOTE: The content below contains the first few paragraphs of the printed article and the titles of the sidebars and boxes, if applicable.


The expression the acorn becomes an oak is never truer than in charitable and philanthropic
acts. Individuals who are moved by a certain cause — as a result of their own experiences,
beliefs, or outlooks — often inspire many others to rally to that cause.

Last year,PharmaVOICE began a series of articles showcasing the philanthropic
contributions made by several life-sciences companies.This month, in keeping
with the spirit of Valentine’s Day,we are offering stories of the heart.These are
the experiences of individuals within the life-sciences industry who, for a variety
of reasons, choose to give of their time for others.Their heartwarming stories
and their generosity inspire those around them to donate their time or
resources.Thus one person’s passion and determination are fed, and so that
cause grows and achieves greater things.

Finding therapy in nature
Patty Hill, Sanofi-Aventis

An enduring connection between
her son and the JFK Hartwyck at
Oak Tree, a rehabilitation hospital
in Edison, N.J., for brain injury, keeps
Patty Hill an active volunteer at the center.
Ms. Hill, an accounts payable professional
at Sanofi-Aventis, first became involved
with JFK Hartwyck when her son, Aaron,
who had been involved in a serious car accident
almost seven years earlier, was given the
opportunity to go there. He spent four and a
half years at Hartwyck before he tragically
passed away in 2008.

Ms. Hill’s active involvement began after a
conversation with the center’s recreational
supervisor, Cheryl Dougherty, whose dream
was to make Hartwyck a more peaceful and
relaxing place for patients and their families.
The goal was to create a soothing environment
complete with a water feature, landscaped
grounds, and a nature walkway. While Ms.
Dougherty raised funds and acted as the sole
organizer for each project, Ms. Hill approached
her colleague Amy Dupuis, manager of U.S.
philanthropy at Sanofi-Aventis, about providing
corporate assistance.
Ms. Hill led the charge on the company’s
day of caring, which takes place each September.
Sanofi-Aventis employees — 19 in all —
turned up at the center to help build a
pond/waterfall, clean flower beds, and plant
new shrubs, flowering trees, and flowers.
“The project started at 8:30 a.m.;
Hartwyck served breakfast, and my company
paid for lunch,” Ms. Hill says. “By 3:30 p.m.
the pond was turned on; everyone was in awe,
and the tears just flowed. It was the most
amazing event to have been a part of.”

While playing a central part in helping to
improve the facilities where her son lived was important for Ms. Hill, it was equally motivating
to witness the commitment and dedication
of other Sanofi-Aventis employees,
many of whom Ms. Hill got to meet for the
first time.

“When the project came together I was
very nervous about finding the right people to come, those who would be willing to do manual
labor,” Ms. Hill says. “But my department
was nothing short of amazing, and the
turnout from employees was awesome.”
A real camaraderie ensued between
Hartwyck and Sanofi-Aventis.

“We all came together and we worked,
laughed, and got to know each other
in a different setting,” Ms. Hill says.
“I discovered that people want to
give back and make a difference for
less-fortunate people.”
For Ms. Hill, the joy her son got
out of the new gardens was profound.
“Aaron spent every day outside as
long as the weather permitted; we
read, we walked the path, and just
enjoyed the peace and serenity,” she
A tree by the pond has a sign
dedicated to Ms. Dougherty, whose
dream helped create the grounds,
and since Aaron’s passing, another
tree has been planted in his honor.
Champion: Patricia Hill, Accounts
Payable Professional, Sanofi-Aventis
U.S., which is part of a global pharmaceutical
company that discovers, develops,
produces, and markets innovative therapies
that enhance people’s lives. For more
information, visit
Cause: JFK Hartwyck at Oak Tree is one of a
limited number of facilities offering innovative,
highly skilled, and specialized sub-acute rehabilitation,
long-term care, and care for patients with
brain injuries, as well as patients on ventilators. To
learn more about JFK Hartwyck at Oak Tree, visit

A Hand Across the Ocean
Anshal Purohit, Purohit Navigation

The plight of women in the West
African nation of Sierra Leone
touched a chord with Anshal
Purohit, VP, strategy and new business, at
Purohit Navigation.
In Sierra Leone, women marry before the
age of 15 and have at least six children over
the course of their short lifetime. But without
obstetric or gynecological care, education, or
better nutrition, giving birth is a life-anddeath
ordeal. Of the almost 7 million people
who live in the country, nearly half, or about
3 million women, suffer or die from a medical
condition called vesico vaginal fistula (VVF).
VVF occurs as a result of obstructed labor.
Women who survive labor and delivery may
develop VVF, which leads to continuous leaking
of urine that cannot be explained,
stopped, or controlled. Because of constant
dribbling of urine down the legs, the wetting
of their clothes, and the accompanying smell,
these women are shunned and rejected by
their husbands and ostracized by the villagers.
“It’s amazing how an easily treatable and
preventable medical condition like VVF can
trigger ostracism, abuse, depression, anguish,
and hopelessness,” Ms. Purohit says. “It’s
equally disturbing when the causes of this
condition are taken into account. Many
females — some as young as 11 years old —
develop VVF because of obstructed labor
when giving birth. Others develop VVF
because of poor hygiene as a result of the civil
war raging in Sierra Leone. The atrocities
these women have endured and their courage
to survive touched us.”
Ms. Purohit’s involvement began after a
chance meeting with a retired ob/gyn who
was en route to Sierra Leone for community
“Once we became aware of the situation,
we were driven to help,” Ms. Purohit says.
“My mother — Ahnal Purohit, president and
CEO of Purohit Navigation — and I became
two of the founders of the West Africa Fistula
Foundation (WAFF).”
The two helped establish the foundation
from the ground up, creating a 501(c)(3) organization
with a nurse, physician, and volunteers
who provided medical treatment and
“Initially, we leased space and beds in one
of the village hospitals,” Ms. Purohit says. “As
the word about the foundation spread, many women traveled long distances for help. Private
donors and physicians were asked to fund
and/or perform some of the necessary procedures.
One physician in Texas held several private
fundraising events, including a charity
auction to help draw attention to VVF and
the plight of women in West Africa. In Chicago,
we asked our company teams to create a
logo and Website to drive worldwide awareness
about VVF. Imagine how thrilled and
honored we were when the logo won an Rx
award in 2007.”
In the past two years since the WAFF was
established, it has helped almost 400 women
get their lives back.
A recent donation means that this year the
foundation will be able to purchase a facility
and will no longer have to lease beds from the
hospital, enabling even more women to be
“We also intend to implement longer-term
strategies, such as helping women to support
themselves financially if they choose not to
return home,” Ms. Purohit says. “Another
goal is to help them learn a trade or skill. We
also want to train these women to become
midwives so they can provide information
that may help prevent VVF caused by
obstructed labor. Finally, our intention is to
establish a support system for
women who have been raped or
abused. There are so many
things we want to do, can do,
and must do. We recognize it
may be a long journey to
achieve all of these goals, but
each step we take now is helping
the women of Sierra Leone
make a positive change in their
Champion: Anshal Purohit, VP,
Strategy and New Business, Purohit
Navigation, an independent, fullservice,
integrated healthcare brand
solutions company. For more information,
Cause: The West Africa Fistula
Foundation (WAFF) was founded
to bring value back to the lives of the
women of Sierra Leone by providing
them with access to education and
resources to help reduce the number of
new fistulas and to surgically remedy
those that already exist. To learn
more about the West Africa
Fistula Foundation, visit

Running to Remember
Mike Myers, Palio

The Melanie O’Donnell Memorial
Race, established in honor of a
woman who died tragically
young, resonates strongly for Palio President
Mike Myers. Giving back and finding
ways to support the community have been
central to the mission at the Saratoga Springs,
N.Y.-based agency from the get-go. Moreover,
since the company is named after a horse race
in Siena, Italy, Mr. Myers long felt it would be
good to support a local race to give extra credence
to its name while doing something philanthropic.
“As a runner, I know that races can raise
money for charities and be fun too,” Mr. Myers
says. “In addition, our region does not have a
truly marquee half-marathon event. When I
heard about the tragic loss of Melanie, it struck
a chord with me as a husband and parent. So
when I heard that Melanie’s family and friends
were conducting a race to raise funds for charity
as a way to honor her memory, in many ways,
it just all came together for me.”
Ms. O’Donnell had lived her life with
courage and compassion. Among her many
contributions to society were coordinating the
care of 28 crisis response teams in New York
City and eight teams in Washington, D.C.,
after the 9/11 attacks; helping grieving families
after the attacks; volunteering with and
later becoming a staff member of the National
Organization for Victim Assistance
(NOVA); and being a board member for eight
years of the Capital Area Crisis Response
Team (CACRT). She also contributed significantly
to local community events. The
Melanie Merola O’Donnell Memorial Scholarship
Fund, which provides financial assistance
to graduate students in the mental
health field, was established in 2006 in Ms.
O’Donnell’s memory.
When Palio heard about the race, Mr.
Myers and his colleagues wanted to help
build on the work the group had done by
establishing the race as the region’s premier
running event. As a result, this effort brings
attention to Ms. O’Donnell and the cause
supported in her name.
“Because of our passion to join and support
the organization in its endeavors, the
board generously renamed the event The
Saratoga Palio: Melanie Merola O’Donnell
Memorial Race,” Mr. Myers says. “The race
captures the spirit of Melanie and the spirit of
Saratoga Springs. The characteristics and
compassion demonstrated by Melanie are ones
that hold the promise of an exceptional mental
health practitioner. These are the characteristics
that we hope the scholarship recognizes
and fosters and the reason we run in her
honor to help her legacy lives on.”
For Mr. Myers, there is an enormous sense
of pride in taking part in the event.
“Keeping her spirit alive and continuing
works that she would have supported make
me feel great on many levels,” he says.
Champion: Mike Myers, President, Palio, an
inVentiv Health company, is a pharmaceutical
marketing and advertising company. For more
information, visit
Cause: The Saratoga Palio Race is fast becoming
a regional favorite, thanks to its beautiful course
through the heart of Saratoga Springs and the great
cause it supports. And with a 5K run/walk, a children’s
run, and a half marathon, the Palio is
appropriate for families and serious runners. To
learn more about the Melanie Merola O’Donnell
Memorial Scholarship Fund and Race, visit

Acknowledging Everyday Heroes
Jim Kremidas, Quintiles, and Beth Harper, Clinical Performance Partners

The discovery of a new medicine
or therapy begins with a spark
from a scientist, which leads to a
series of actions. While many professionals
are involved along the way, the end
product wouldn’t be possible without the
volunteers who participate in clinical trials
to ensure the safety and efficacy of the
new treatment.
Showing appreciation for these non-medical
professionals who are at the center of all new
discoveries is what drives Jim Kremidas, global
VP of patient recruitment, global access to
patients, at Quintiles. To that end he donates to
the Center for Information and Study on Clinical
Research Participation (CISCRP).
Mr. Kremidas started his career in healthcare
with Eli Lilly 24 years ago as a sales representative
and had the opportunity to introduce
several new products to physicians.
Later, as he progressed through the organization,
it became clear that a major bottleneck
in the development of new medicines was
finding volunteers to participate in clinical
“As I researched the problem, it became
clear that there was a negative image of volunteering
for trials; people who participated were
seen as ‘guinea pigs’ by the general public,” he
says. “I felt it was critical that we change that
misperception and recognize these
folks for their contributions to the
advancement of medical knowledge.”
Several years later, CISCRP was
formed, and over the years Mr.
Kremidas has been strongly
involved with the organization. He
assisted CISCRP in developing the
“Heroes” campaign.
CISCRP and Mr. Kremidas, together with
Fast4wdOgilvy, conducted several input sessions
with constituents from the clinical
research enterprise: CROs, sponsors, NIH,
IRBs, patient advocacy groups, FDA,
academia, etc.
“We consolidated the information to develop
messages that were then taken to focus
groups,” he says. “As a result, the Heroes campaign
emerged. We have shown that when
used in conjunction with advertising for a clinical
trial, it can dramatically increase the number
of volunteers willing to participate in a
Mr. Kremidas finds this work extremely
“I am fortunate that it relates to my career
as a specialist in patient recruitment because I
firmly believe that without volunteers for clinical
trials, we would never have advancements
in healthcare technology,” he says. “These people
are at the center of all we do in medical
research, and we owe them our deep gratitude
as a society.”
The important work done by CISCRP is
also a central focus for Beth Harper, president
of Clinical Performance Partners.
As a clinical research professional and consultant
who has specialized in the area of
patient recruitment for many years,
Ms. Harper is deeply aware of the
important work CISCRP does in educating
and informing the public
about the role and importance of clinical
In addition to making an annual
donation to the organization, Ms. Harper also
makes donations in honor of her clients in lieu
of holiday gifts or gift baskets.
And she goes even further by working with
CISCRP to expand its Heroes campaign by
helping to develop new buttons and stickers.
“The buttons can be worn by clinical
research professionals on their lab coats or jackets
to help prompt a dialogue with patients
and prospective research volunteers on what
clinical research is,” Ms. Harper says. “Similar
to the stickers that individuals receive after
donating blood, the stickers can be issued to
the research participants after each study visit
as a way of thanking them and acknowledging
their contribution to research.”
Volunteering is Ms. Harper’s way of giving
back and honoring those who have invested in
her and supported her career.
“When I can’t contribute my time, I like to
contribute financially to important organizations
that help to make the world a better
place,” she says. “Of all the worthy causes to
support, I can’t think of a better one that
brings true value to the clinical research industry
than CISCRP.”
Champion: Jim Kremidas, Global VP of
Patient Recruitment, Global Access to Patients,
Quintiles Transnational Corp., which provides a
broad range of professional services, information,
and partnering solutions to the pharmaceutical,
biotechnology, and healthcare industries. For more
information, visit
Champion: Beth Harper, President, Clinical
Performance Partners Inc., a consulting firm dedicated
to designing and implementing innovative and
practical solutions for improving site performance and accelerating clinical trials results for the lifesciences
industry. For more information, visit
Cause: The mission of the Center for Information
and Study on Clinical Research Participation
(CISCRP), a first-of-its-kind nonprofit organization
founded in 2003, is to educate, inform, and empower
patients, the public, medical and research professionals,
the media, and policymakers about clinical
research participation and what it means to be an
active participant in the process; promote greater
awareness, and understanding participation and the
role that it plays in public health; facilitate more effective
collaboration among all members of the clinical
research enterprise; and provide resources for the
research community to better understand the study volunteer.
To learn more about CISCRP, visit

A Tale of Hope
Ross Thomson, Vox Medica

n encounter with a stray cat led
Ross Thomson, chief ideation
officer at Vox Medica, to get
involved with the Philadelphia Animal
Welfare Society (PAWS).
“It started with a letter from my residence
community association about a stray kitten
roaming our neighborhood,” Mr. Thomson
says. “During a neighborhood meeting, there
was much discussion about what we should do
with the black kitty. There were two options.
We could call an animal shelter to come for it,
or it could be adopted by one of the residents.
I wondered what might become of the cat if
the first option was pursued, so I decided to
look around on the Web.”
After visiting, Mr.
Thomson discovered that most sanctuaries
employ a policy of euthanasia. A national council
survey of 1,000 shelters showed that of 4.3
million animals handled, 64% were euthanized
— 2.7 million in just these shelters alone.
While waiting for a train, Mr. Thomson
noticed a poster for animal welfare featuring
the PAWS Philadelphia shelter’s logo.
“I Googled the organization and found out
that it was dedicated to saving as many animals
as possible,” he says. “This inspired me
to write some advertisements on its behalf,
and the Vox team did an amazing job of
designing the creative. As the team progressed,
excitement built across the organization,
as everyone loves animals. It was determined
that Vox Medica would provide funds
in kind to support this campaign and promote
this worthy cause.”
The team members who came together
to work on PAWS did so initially on their
own time as they worked to develop the
ideas they wanted to share.
Ultimately, PAWS was selected as the
inaugural Vox Medica Proactive Pro Bono
recipient and Melissa Levy, the organization’s
now executive director, was invited
to the agency to hear about the employees’
“During this presentation, we sold
numerous calendars to benefit PAWS and
set forth our donation drive for goods
needed at the shelter,” Mr. Thomson says.
“The post-event response continues to be
positive, as we have ongoing calendar
sales and goods being collected. Additionally,
everyone is enjoying sharing animal
stories in the hallway.”
To return to the beginning of the tale,
the stray cat also enjoyed a happy ending;
a couple in Mr. Thomson’s neighborhood
adopted the kitty.
Champion: Ross Thomson, Chief Ideation
Officer, Vox Medica Inc., an independent healthcare
communications company. For more information,
Cause: PAWS, the Philadelphia Animal Welfare
Society, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization
dedicated to saving the lives of Philadelphia’s homeless,
abandoned, and unwanted animals. PAWS is
working toward making Philadelphia a city in
which every healthy and treatable pet is guaranteed
a home. In 2009, PAWS began operating as an
independent no-kill rescue organization solely dedicated
to saving the most vulnerable animals in the
city’s animal control shelter. Supporting PAWS
helps fund lifesaving initiatives, including adoption
and foster care programs, spay and neuter surgeries,
low-cost vaccinations, and other community-based
programming, all of which help reduce and will
ultimately eliminate the unnecessary killing of
Philadelphia’s animals.To learn more about
PAWS, visit

Casting a Line to Help Kids
Jeff Leerink, Leerink Swann

hile at college, Jeff Leerink,
chairman and CEO of Leerink
Swann, began his involvement
with Big Brothers Big Sisters and was
inspired by the impact
the organization had on
many kids.
“Some years later, one of
our Leerink Swann board
members was also on the
board of Big Brothers Big
Sisters of Massachusetts
Bay, and after I mentioned
my previous experience
with the organization, he
urged me to get involved
on both a corporate and
personal level,” Mr.
Leerink says. “It’s been a
great and rewarding relationship
that’s evolved over
the past several years.”
Eager to find a way to
give more to the kids, Mr.
Leerink initiated his company’s
annual fishing
“For the past five years,
we have held the Leerink
Swann Big Brothers Big
Sisters Fishing Tournament
for the kids in the
program,” Mr. Leerink says.
“For many of the little
brothers, it’s the first time they’ve either been
on a boat or out in the ocean, so it’s a great day
all around. I happen to be a passionate fisherman,
so I get a great deal of personal pleasure
out of sharing this with the kids and seeing the
excitement in their faces throughout the day.”
In 2008, a golf tournament was introduced
along with the fishing. This event quickly sold
out and helped to raise funds for the event and
for the organization.
“To date, we’ve raised more than $1.2 million
for the organization, and the event continues
to grow every year,” Mr. Leerink says.
It’s these types of activities that Mr. Leerink
says enhance the experience as well as the
working relationship for everyone involved.
“Plus, I don’t think you can discount the
simple fact that it just feels good to help people,”
he says.
Champion: Jeff Leerink, Chairman and CEO,
Leerink Swann, is a healthcare-focused investment
banking firm that provides equity research, corporate
finance, strategic advisory, and asset management
services for institutional, life sciences, and
high-net-worth clients. For more information, visit
Cause: Big Brothers Big Sisters is the oldest,
largest, and most effective youth mentoring organization
in the United States. It has been the leader
in one-to-one youth service for more than a century,
developing positive relationships that have a direct
and lasting impact on the lives of young people. Big
Brothers Big Sisters mentors children ages 6
through 18, in communities across the country. To
learn more about the Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit

Helping Hand in a Crisis
Sabrina Taylor Blackwell, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.

Helping women and children in
crisis is enormously important to
Sabrina Taylor Blackwell, associate
director, regional account projects, at
Novartis Pharmaceuticals.
For the past four years, she has been actively
involved with a nonprofit organization
called Palos Verdes Junior Women’s Club (PV
Junior). Based in Palos Verdes, Calif., PV
Junior selects seven to nine philanthropies
each year to support women and children in
“I am involved because my time and contributions
go directly to my local and neighboring
communities,” Ms. Blackwell says.
“We provide families with a second chance at
life, a safe environment, and new opportunities.”
The organization, which was established in
1958, places its focus on charities that have
critical yet overlooked needs. Contributions
provide assistance to philanthropies that are
categorized as follows: crisis — support
immediate life-threatening or critical needs;
intervention — provide long-term needs of a
critical nature; prevention — prevent crisis situations
from happening; support — provide
assistance through positive encouragement;
and service — provide assistance to the general
In her first year of volunteering, Ms. Blackwell
was called an affiliate, participating in
several hands-on projects to become familiar
with the local charities PV Junior supports.
“Affiliates organize small projects that provide
immediate relief to those in need,” she says. “My affiliate group created spa bags for
distribution, gathering toiletry samples such
as lotions, shampoos, mouthwashes, etc. This
may not sound like much, but to women leaving
their clothes and possessions behind to find
protection and a new beginning, those spa
bags were invaluable.”
In her second year, Ms. Blackwell was auction
chair and was responsible for leading and
motivating members to donate items for silent
and live auctions for the holiday and spring
“My third year I volunteered as the spring
fundraiser chair, and this year, I am publicity
chair,” she says.
Some of the activities members of PV
Junior and their children, known as Heart
Prints, get involved with include making
Build-A-Bears for children leaving abusive
environments. The local police give each child
leaving their family a bear for comfort. And
each Heart Prints child makes a special wish
before the bear is sewn closed.
Ms. Blackwell has had a great deal of support
acquiring items for auction from her colleagues
throughout the Novartis organization.
“One colleague in Chicago had a contact at
the Oprah Winfrey show, and after a year of
perseverance, I acquired two tickets and PV
Junior raised $3,000 in a live auction,” she
Volunteering is paramount for Ms. Blackwell,
who believes that every successful person
has a responsibility to touch a community, a
family, or a person in a helping way.
“When efforts and resources are shared, we
improve our society,” she says. “We help people
believe in mankind through our actions.
If every person helps someone in the smallest
way, imagine as a collective how many people
we touch. I feel humility and gratitude when
I help others. It’s truly my way of saying,
‘Thank you for all that has been given to
Champion:Sabrina Taylor Blackwell, Associate
Director, Regional Account Projects, Novartis
Pharmaceuticals Corp., which researches, develops,
and markets patent-protected prescription drugs for
important health needs. For more information, visit
Cause: The goal of the Palos Verdes Junior
Women’s Club is to promote the social welfare of the
greater South Bay community through financial
assistance and hands-on support. Established in
1958 as a nonprofit public benefit corporation, the
Palos Verdes Junior Women’s Club is designated a
501(c)(3) charitable organization. Membership is
by invitation to women over 21 who reside on the
Palos Verdes Peninsula. To learn more about the
Palos Verdes Junior Women’s Club, visit

Two Hearts Build Cheer
Cindy Stone and Geri Vene-Shores, AbelsonTaylor

or two women from Abelson-
Taylor, a confluence of events
and personally held beliefs about
making a difference inspired them to
take action and establish an official
Committee for Social Responsibility to
coordinate activities
benefiting the community
at large.
“The impetus was the
daily news about all of the
social, economic, and political
upheaval changing our
lives and marginalizing an
increasing number of people;
it was the heartfelt
thanks from clients for our
annual gifts in their names
to Heifer International; and
it was a chance question by
a job applicant on what
AbelsonTaylor does to give
back to the community,”
says Cindy Stone, VP,
account director.
The journey for Ms.
Stone and Geri Vena-Shores,
account director, began with
helping a colleague whose
sister died, leaving behind
two teenage sons.
“Employees throughout the agency contributed
to a fund established in trust for the
future needs of the boys,” Ms. Vena-Shores says.
“Based on this outpouring of generosity, Cindy
and I met with the agency’s executive committee
and got approval to establish an official Committee
for Social Responsibility to coordinate
activities benefiting the community at large.”
The committee recruited members from all
departments within the agency, and the program
was named Hearts AT Work. Ms. Stone
and Ms. Vena-Shores are co-chairs of program.
The primary focus for the effort became
children’s health and well-being, although
activities also frequently benefit parents and
other adults.
“Our biggest activity has been this past
December’s Winterfest, which was really four
concurrent activities designed to bring
warmth and cheer to hundreds of children,”
Ms. Stone says.
“The success of Winterfest, and the sense of
satisfaction we gained by truly giving of ourselves
for the benefit of others, has galvanized
staff commitment to Hearts AT Work,” Ms.
Vena-Shores says.
Champions:Cindy Stone, VP, Account Director,
and Geri Vena-Shores, Account Director, Abelson-
Taylor, an independently owned, full-service healthcare
advertising agency. For more information, visit
Cause:Hearts AT Work is AbelsonTaylor’s corporate
social responsibility (CSR) program that organizes
activities benefiting the health and well-being
of children and young adults.

Keeping the Dream Alive
Rodney Malchow, Associate Director, Regulatory Affairs, J&JPRD

ontinuing the dream of their
daughter, Lisa, Rodney Malchow
and his wife Nancy are actively
committed to Lisa’s Heart, which was
established to help raise funds to support
pediatric cancer research and have kids be
active in all parts of the nonprofit organization.
The two started working with their daughter
from the organization’s inception and they
remain strongly involved with Lisa’s Heart,
even after her tragic passing at the age of 19.
“Having watched my daughter and many of
her hospital friends go through such incredible
pain, suffering, heartaches, and death or severe
permanent disabilities as a result of the disease
and treatments, I cannot help but reach out to
this group and look for cures,” Mr. Malchow
says. “I want to give back to the community that
helped carry my family through this horrifying
and life-changing event.”
The organization’s first fundraiser event
was an art auction and wine tasting, at which
Mr. Malchow, associate director, regulatory
affairs, at J&J PRD, actively participated.
Lisa started her own nonprofit as a component
fund with the Community Foundation of
New Jersey two months before her death in
2004, with her high school economics teacher,
doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
Center and NIH, and with her mother as president.
Lisa’s Heart continues to grow, and in 2007
it was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization
with Mrs. Malchow as president and chairman
of the newly formed board of directors.
The organization, which is entirely run by
volunteers, has since had several annual gala
events and fundraisers, and Mr. Malchow has
spent hours working on the events.
After his wife decided to step down as president,
Mr. Malchow was elected to the role.
“Needless to say, I will have a very full set
of tasks moving forward in 2009,” he says.
While there is no silver lining to what Mr. Malchow and his family have gone through,
many experiences he has had have changed his
perceptions of society and humanity and given
him an understanding of others who are less
“During my daughter’s illness, her life and
my family’s well-being were carried by the
larger ‘village,’” he says.
Blood drives were organized to have ready
needed blood for Lisa’s next transfusion, and
people stepped up by the hundreds to
“There is no doubt that for every pint of
blood donated, my family had one more week
of life with Lisa,” he says. “Friends, neighbors,
teachers, and school parents all stepped
in to help care for our two sons during times
when Lisa and Nancy were living in hospitals.
The list of supporters and aid is truly
“This ‘village of caring’ more than anything
else made me understand the true
human spirit to help others with no thought
of anything in return,” he says.
Champion: Rodney Malchow is Associate
Director, Regulatory Affairs, J&JPRD, part of
Johnson & Johnson, a broad-based producer of
healthcare products, which leverages drug discovery
and drug development in a variety of therapeutic
areas to address unmet medical needs worldwide.
For more information, visit
Cause: Lisa’s Heart Kids’ Cancer Research Fund
is committed to the support of ongoing pediatric cancer
research by raising awareness of pediatric cancers
and pediatric cancer research, and empowering kids
to help other kids by raising money for research. The
fund honors the memory of Lisa Malchow, who died
of a rare pediatric cancer in 2005; 98% of all proceeds
raised go to pediatric cancer research. To learn
more about Lisa’s Heart, visit

Rallying Others in Relay for Life
Katie Russo and Vanessa Spinka, Octagon

he tragic reality is that cancer has
touched the lives of most people
in the developed world. Some of
those individuals affected are compelled
to make a difference in some way.
For the past six years, Katie Russo, senior
associate, regulatory affairs, and Vanessa Spinka,
senior specialist, regulatory operations, at
Octagon, have participated in the American
Cancer Society’s Relay for Life (RFL).
“I was originally inspired by my sister’s
involvement in RFL and by the many family
and friends who have been touched by cancer,”
Ms. Russo says. “Unfortunately, this list has
grown over the years, but this only solidifies
my commitment to this event.”
Ms. Spinka also has had many family
members and friends of all ages affected by
“By participating in this event, we increase
awareness of the disease and raise funds to aid the American Cancer Society in its efforts,”
Ms. Spinka says.
Each year, a team of about 15 individuals
from Octagon participate in the 24-hour Relay
for Life event, which attracts around 50 teams
each year. Ms. Russo and Ms. Spinka are the
team captains for
Octagon’s RFL team.
“We attend the
organizational meetings
for our relay, as
well as coordinate
and lead fundraising
and awareness activities
at Octagon,” Ms.
Russo says. “Some of
our fundraisers have
included bake sales,
soft pretzel sales, raffles,
happy hour buffet
events, lunchtime
cookouts, and silent auctions.”
The women say the support they receive
from Octagon employees through both
fundraising and presence at the event demonstrates
the commitment to fighting cancer.
“Altogether, we have raised more than
$39,000 for this organization,” Ms. Spinka
Champions: Katie Russo, Senior Associate, Regulatory
Affairs, and Vanessa Spinka, Senior Specialist,
Regulatory Operations, Octagon Research
Solutions Inc., a provider of software and services to
the life-sciences industry. For more information,
Cause: Relay For Life is the American Cancer
Society’s signature activity. It offers everyone in a
community an opportunity to participate in the
fight against cancer. Teams of people camp out at a
local high school, park, or fairground and take
turns walking or running around a track or path.
Each team is asked to have a representative on the
track at all times during the event. Relays are an
overnight event, up to 24 hours in length. To learn
more about about the Relay for Life event, visit

A Truly Communal Lesson
Mike Devlin, The CementWorks

When Joanna Breitstein, editor
of Pharmaceutical Executive,
conveyed the desperate and
urgent need of the children in Uganda,
Mike Devlin, senior VP, creative director,
copy, at The CementWorks, decided it
was time to get involved more seriously
with a charity that focused on their needs.
The International HUG Foundation, or
i.HUG, co-founded by Ms. Breitstein, helps
disadvantaged and orphaned children in
Uganda by providing them with education,
access to healthcare, and an environment that
fosters their physical, social, and emotional

“The vision of helping one very specific
community with severe needs resonated within
my peasant Irish DNA,” Mr. Devlin says. “I
also recognize that in today’s tumultuous economic
environment, it’s usually the smaller
charities that are likely to feel the most pain,
and here the smallest efforts can have a great
Rather than just writing a check, i.HUG’s vision is to cultivate self-sufficiency,
which resonates with Mr. Devlin. One
look at the photos of the kids, and he
was hooked.
The plan devised was to develop a
school-to-school program.
“Our original concept was to connect
a local community (my hometown
school in New Jersey) with the
school that i.HUG has established in
Kabalagala, Uganda,” Mr. Devlin says.
“We have since generated interest from
many other people, including other
groups that have had success with
school-to-school initiatives. Right
now, we’re determining the best way
to connect those who want to help and
to use education, art, music, geography, and
culture as a basis for supporting the children in
Mr. Devlin says like many others, he understands
how lucky he is and how the hard work
of his parents and their parents before them has
given him tremendous opportunities.
“I am determined to ramp up my involvement
with i.HUG and to set an example for
my children, and the school-to-school initiative
is a perfect vehicle for me to do both,” he says.
“My son and daughter need to be exposed to
others who are less fortunate. When I see the
kids in this town outside the capital of Uganda, I quickly see that my family is wanting for
absolutely nothing. Getting my children
involved and making it fun is a tangible way I
can instill a legacy of volunteering and helping
those in need.”
At this stage, Mr. Devlin says The Cement-
Works is not connected with i.HUG.
“But I intend to get this cause onto the
radar of our 175-plus cement, stone, iron, and
bond workers for sure,” he says.
It helps that pro bono and community work
is ingrained in the agency culture.
“It was inspirational to learn about all of the
programs the company supports, and employees
are encouraged to bring causes to the fore
and to get others involved,” Mr. Devlin says.
Champion: Mike Devlin, Senior VP, creative
director, copy, The CementWorks, the founding business
within The CementBloc Inc., a community of
independent healthcare agencies. For more information,
Cause: The International HUG Foundation
(i.HUG) is a nonprofit organization whose mission
is to reach out to disadvantaged and orphaned children
in Uganda. The foundation seeks to provide
them with education, access to healthcare, and an
environment that fosters their physical, social, and
emotional development. The organization’s use of
local resources will ensure the sustainability of the
mission and will enable i.HUG to leverage successes
to benefit the entire community. To learn more
about i.HUG, visit

Investing in a Cure for Seizures
Warren Lammert, Granite Point Capital

At just 8 months of age, Warren Lammert’s
daughter Sylvie had her first
seizure. Mr. Lammert, founder of
investment firm Granite Point Capital,
was 1,000 miles from home at a conference
in Los Angeles when he got the call
from his wife Kathy. He rushed back to
Denver and arrived at the hospital to find
Sylvie had had a status seizure, which lasted
30 minutes.
“As the staff sought reasons for the sudden
unexplained onset of seizures, Kathy and I had
the experience of taking our sedated Sylvie to
have an MRI scan, and I later held Sylvie as
physicians performed a lumbar puncture to rule
out encephalitis,” Mr. Lammert says.
Sylvie was seizure-free for a month and then
the seizures returned, often in clusters that
lasted 30 to 45 minutes when the little girl
awoke. Eventually, the family took Sylvie to
specialists in New York. But despite two new
medications to improve seizure control,
Sylvie’s seizures have continued.
In 2000, seeking to learn more about
epilepsy, Mr. Lammert helped co-found epilepsy.
com together with Sylvie’s doctor, Orrin
Devinsky, and others, including Joyce Cramer,
president of Epilepsy Therapy Project (ETP).
In his research Mr. Lammert made a stark
discovery; of the 3 million people in the United
States living with epilepsy, about onethird
live with active seizures despite all
available therapies, and many more
achieve control with medications that have
unacceptable side effects.
In 2002, amid discussions with Dr.
Devinsky and two other fathers of young
girls living with severe epilepsy (including
Hank Chesbrough, professor at UC Berkeley
Haas School of Business and author of
several books on innovation) about supporting
the development of new therapies,
the ETP was formed. In addition to his
busy work schedule, Mr. Lammert founded
and acts as chairman of ETP.
ETP provides financial support as well
as scientific and business direction for
promising new therapy projects directly
and through its Epilepsy Research Foundation
ETP continues to support
and in its
efforts to provide in-depth information on
epilepsy and available therapies and community
to patients, families, caregivers,
and professionals living and working with
“We also supported the creation of the
Epilepsy Study Consortium (epilepsyconsortium.
org) to take time and costs out of the clinical-
trial process, and we provide ongoing support
for the two major international meetings
on the development of new therapies for epilepsy,” Mr. Lammert says. “We are working diligently
to make a difference, but only support
from a wide community will enable us to provide
the significant funding needed to make
new therapies for those with epilepsy a reality.”
ETP embarked on its first conference —
Epilepsy Pipeline: Portal Into CNS — held in
San Francisco on March 13, 2008. The goal of
this conference was to bring together scientists,
emerging companies, investors, and business
development people to see opportunities
in epilepsy.
“We were successful in engaging the inter-
Giving BACK
est of many investors to hear about the wide
potential for medications and devices developed
for epilepsy,” Mr. Lammert says.
Now 11, Sylvie still battles seizures, but
she has an indomitable spirit.
“For me, epilepsy is a burden and an enemy
that confronts a little girl that I love,” Mr.
Lammert says. “But Sylvie is a happy and tenacious
child who rises above her challenges and
is a delight in our lives. I want to add that the
challenge of working to make a difference for
Sylvie and for all those living with epilepsy is
an experience that itself is filled with rewards
for me, and not least is the exceptional, wonderful
people I have been blessed to know and
work with in this journey.”
Champion:Warren Lammert, Founder, Principal
and Chief Investment Officer, Granite Point
Capital, an investment firm. For more information,
Cause: The Epilepsy Therapy Project is a nonprofit
organization advancing new therapies for people
living with epilepsy. To learn more about the
Epilepsy Therapy Project, visit

Rallying for the Troops
Claire Wynters, Marketing and Advertising Associate, Criterium

A strong connection to the military
and the Marine Corps, in particular,
drew Claire Wynters, marketing
and advertising associate at Criterium,
to the Till You Come Home Foundation.
The foundation is somewhat of a family affair
at Criterium. It was established by Eryn
Schnel, daughter of Ronny Schnel, executive
director, business development and client services,
at Criterium, to ensure and enhance the
morale and emotional well-being of deployed
U.S. combat forces and their families.
“Supporters help keep the troops connected
with home via professionally created photo
albums that include pictures of their kids and
families,” Ms. Wynters says. “It’s a huge morale
booster and has had great acceptance by the
military staff and the troops themselves.”
Giving back and finding a cause to relate to
is important for Ms. Wynters.
“Often, we do not feel like the world’s
problems are solvable by any one individual,
but in a group, like with any team effort, the
many far outreach their numbers is the value
and impact they can create,” she says.
Equally, reaching out to people in the
workspace to join a cause is part of networking
and interrelating.
“When you share your passions about
important issues with the people you spend
the majority of your waking hours with, you
have a good chance of firing up their passions
— if not for your own cause, then for a cause
that moves them,” she says. “Giving back is
empowering personally and to the world in
general. The Chinese have a terrific saying
about this: ‘It’s the giver who is grateful.’”
Champion: Claire Wynters, Marketing and
Advertising Associate, Criterium Inc., a global,
full-service, and technology-driven clinical research
organization. For more information, visit
Cause:Till You Come Home is a nonprofit foundation
that provides memory books with photographs of
kids and family members, which are sent to deployed
U.S. service members. To learn more about Till You
Come Home, visit

A Tough Test
Chris Connor, Phoenix Data Systems

hen Chris Connor’s tenacious
dad, Jon Connor, was diagnosed
with pancreatic cancer in the
spring of 2005, he began a journey of selfdiscovery.
At the time of his diagnosis, it
seemed almost impossible to all who knew
Jon Connor that he wouldn’t beat it.
A tough fighter from South Boston and at
the same time a caring, humble man, Jon Connor
sadly succumbed to the disease 10 months
after his diagnosis.
“The cancer cells that eventually consumed
his body were made of the same tenacious stuff
that made my dad so tough,” Mr. Connor says.
“In the end, he lost a fight with the only thing
that could ever beat him: himself.”
Throughout his father’s illness, Mr. Connor
had been by his side. As a healthcare proxy, he
had access to his father’s medical records, and as
a colleague of several of the doctors treating the
senior Connor, he was also given an escorted
institutional “hall-pass” and got to see firsthand
the back office of the clinical research enterprise
at a major academic medical center.
“I sat side-by-side with the radiologists as
they read my dad’s CT scans,” Mr. Connor says.
“I shadowed the study coordinators as they went
back and forth from the pharmacy. I watched as
they printed the labels for his sample vials. I visited
the lab. I visited the infusion unit. And I
visited the hospital’s chapel.”
On several occasions the elder Mr. Connor
expressed concern that his son was spending too
much time at the hospital. The younger Connor
tried to explain to him that he really was working.
His father would respond: “Well if you’re working, then you should get back to your
office.” To which the son retorted that if he was
so concerned about his career, then he should
just get better and then he could go back to sitting
behind his desk.
“I’d grimace and say ‘you know dad, I really
don’t need your help,” Mr. Connor says. “‘I’m
smart enough to do my job on my own.’ But he
never took me up on my offer. Ultimately, my
dad succumbed to his disease, and I was forced
to graduate from my ethnographic research project.
But I’ve never forgotten what I learned. It
motivates me; it has become my vocation.”
Today he is actively involved in helping to
find a viable treatment for pancreatic cancer and
is raising funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer
Institute (DFCI) by cycling in the Pan-Massachusetts
Challenge. In 2007, he raised $4,000
and every penny went directly to the institute.
It is a fitting way to honor and remember a
man who was himself fit and active. Jon Connor
was a keen runner and cyclist who particularly
liked highly challenging courses.
“For my dad, there was no easy button; ‘hills
are your friends’, he would say, much to the chagrin
of his teammates in the Parkway Running
Club before setting out on the infamous Dover
run,” Mr. Connor says.
When Mr. Connor rode in this year’s Pan-
Massachusetts Challenge he did so on his
father’s favorite bike: an old Italian road bike.
Champion:Chris Connor, Director, Product Development,
Phoenix Data Systems, a subsidiary of Bio-
Imaging Technologies, that delivers EDC services. For
more information, visit
Cause: The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge draws
more than 5,000 cyclists, who hail from 36 states and
eight countries. Now in its 30th year, the PMC hopes
to increase its gift ($35 million in 2008) from the
efforts put forth by PMC cyclists on Aug. 1 and 2,
2009. It is the largest single contributor to the Jimmy
Fund, bringing in almost 50% of its annual revenue.
The Jimmy Fund supports cancer research and care at
the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. To learn more
about the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, visit To learn more about the Dana-Farber Cancer
Institute, visit

Creating Awareness
John Ryan, Advantage Management Solutions

n a short period of time, John Ryan,
president of Advantage Management
Solutions, watched his once fit,
healthy father become bedridden as a
result of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
(IPF), a disease that scars the lungs. The
shock of the diagnosis prompted Mr. Ryan
to begin researching the disease and discussing
it with friends, family, and colleagues.
“Dad never smoked or drank and routinely
walked three miles a day,” Mr. Ryan says.
“Watching him decline from perfect health to
a bedridden status drove me to take action.”
Around 200,000 individuals in the United
States have IPF and it kills about 40,000 people
per year, yet it remains relatively unknown,
even in the medical profession. Misdiagnosis
may mean the numbers may be even higher.
Mr. Ryan started his educational quest by
first contacting the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
and he is now working to bring greater
attention to the disease through two projects.
The first initiative is the First Annual IPF
Clinical Conference, otherwise known as
Breathe 2009. The meeting, targeted for
September 2009, will be held in Chicago in
cooperation with the University of Chicago
Medical Center and will focus on disease education
and key clinical findings to date. Around
150 key opinion leaders are expected to participate
and the meeting and breakout sessions
will be videotaped. This tape will be made
available for free to physicians worldwide.
“It is my hope that we can attract a pharmaceutical
partner or partners who are active
in IPF to join our cause and provide financial
support for the conference,” Mr. Ryan says.
The second initiative Mr. Ryan has planned
is a Run for Research, or R2, which is an
endurance sports training program for runners
and walkers of all capabilities.
The pilot event is scheduled to take place in
Philadelphia as three separate races: the Broad
Street 10 Miler in May 2009; the Philadelphia
Distance Run half marathon in September
2009; and the Philadelphia Marathon in
November 2009.
Participants agree to fundraising targets of
$500 for one race, $1,000 for two races, and
$1,500 for all three races. In return, participants
are being offered professional coaching
and organized group runs in various locations
throughout the area by Kevin Kelly, a former
Mid-Atlantic middle distance champion.
As this issue was going to press, Mr. Ryan
relayed the sad news that his father passed
away in January.
Champion: John Ryan, President, Advantage
Management Solutions Inc., an outsource partner to
the healthcare industry that specializes in strategic
consulting, information technologies, decision support
tools, and business solutions. For more information,
Cause:The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is dedicated
to finding a cure for and raising awareness of
pulmonary fibrosis, an often-fatal lung disease. The
foundation is devoted to improving the quality of life
for those afflicted with this illness through funding
and supporting new research; providing educational
materials to the medical and lay communities; obtaining
Congressional support to increase funding of the
NIH to find a cure; convincing the drug companies to
initiate additional studies to find an effective treatment;
raising funds so that medical and scientific
researchers can devote their time exclusively to finding
a cure; and providing support groups with information
and reassurance. To learn more about the Pulmonary
Fibrosis Foundation, visit



As part of our commitment to showcasing
the good works by good people
throughout the industry,PharmaVOICE is
launching a LinkedIn User Group called
CommunityLinx.This social networking
site will identify the champions
supporting the charitable organizations
showcased in this special editorial feature,
as well as other charities that members
of the life-sciences community are
engaged with.
CommunityLinx blog,which can be
accessed via,will be a
great way to see what local events might
be happening in your area.
Additionally, this month we are
launching an e-newsletter showcasing
industry champions and their causes.

Patty Hill (center) leads a group of committed volunteers to improve the gardens of the JFK Hartwcyk at
Oak Tree rehabilitation hospital.

Because of constant dribbling of urine down the legs, the wetting of their clothes, and
accompanying smell, these women seeking treatment were shunned and rejected by their husbands
and ostracized by villagers.

Treating VVF is a simple procedure that has significantly helped improve these women’s lives.

Mike Myers is on the front line at the start of the annual Saratoga Palio: Melanie Merola O’Donnell Memorial Race.

CISCRP President Roni Thayler and Jim Kremidas, Quintiles,
attend a grassroots program called AWARE for ALL, which seeks
to educate the public about clinical trials.

Of all the worthy causes to support,
Beth Harper says she can’t think of a
better one that brings true value to the
clinical research industry than

Melissa Levy, executive director for PAWS, and Ross Thomson of Vox Medica share the limelight
with one of the stars of the show.

Jeff Leerink and fishing tournament silver medalist Christian Berger.

Sabrina Blackwell, fourth from left in the back row, joins PV Junior members and their children (Heart Prints)
holding the Build-A-Bears they have made for children leaving abusive environments.

Geri Vena-Shores (left), account director, and Cindy Stone, VP, account
director, co-chairs of AbelsonTaylor’s Hearts AT Work corporate social
responsibility program.

The recipient of the 2008 Lisa’s Heart grant, Dr. Neil Shukla, a pediatric oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, with the board
of directors of Lisa’s Heart at the 2008 gala event.

Relay for Life volunteers, including Vanessa Spinka, left, and Katie
Russo, right, show their commitment to helping the fight against cancer.

i.HUG co-founder Jane Dicker helps children with their
studies at the school in Kabalagala, Uganda.

Mike Devlin is inspired by the children from the school established by i.HUG in Kabalagala, Uganda.

Warren Lammert with his two daughters, 11-year-old
Sylvie and her younger sister Sarah, at a national walk
where the ETP team raised the third-highest donation, a
total of $15,000.

Eryn Schnel, Founder of Till You Come
Home, shows one of the military children
how the camera works.

Chris Connor and his three kids after he completed
the Pan-Mass Challenge in his father’s memory.

The Sanofi-Aventis team took to the halls of the Oak Tree facility to paint and add murals to
the second floor, where Patty Hill’s son Aaron resided.

A tree grows in Edison. Sanofi-Aventis volunteers give their time to plant new trees, shrubs, and
plants to enhance the grounds of the rehabilitation center.

Hundreds of runners take to the streets of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., as part of the Saratoga Palio: Melanie Merola
O’Donnell Memorial Race.

Jeff Leerink, center back row, joins kids
from Big Brothers Big Sisters after the
2008 fishing tournament.

PV Junior volunteers Mona Mroue, Colleen Post, Sabrina
Blackwell, Gigi Wade, and Michele Ford.

The ability to help turn women’s lives around with a simple procedure can make volunteer work

The 2007 PharmaPeloton Team
takes to the streets to raise money
for The Lance Armstrong

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