GRACE :: Lung Cancer


Denise Brock

Targeted Therapies in Lung Cancer Patient Forum 2017 Faculty




John Cherol, EGFR patient

John Cherol was diagnosed in January 2016 with Stage IV EGFR+ lung cancer at the age of 28. He started Gilotrif (afatinib) and acquired resistance after 14 months. Luckily a blood test showed he developed the t790m mutation and he started Tagrisso in April of this year. He’s also been treated for nine brain mets with Gamma Knife at the Cleveland Clinic.

 John is a graduate of Youngstown State University with a bachelor’s degree in computer forensics.  He currently works as a Senior Cyber Security Analyst in Pittsburgh, PA. He got engaged shortly after his diagnosis to his fiancé, Kristine, who he met in 2014. They’re actively planning their September 9th wedding and a honeymoon to Iceland. Thanks to targeted therapy, John has been able to continue some of the hobbies he loves most like camping and kayaking. He hopes to help change the face of lung cancer and enjoy many more evening walks with Kristine and their rescue dog Liam.


Janet Freeman-Daily, ROS1 patient, #LCSM Twitter Chat co-moderator, Cure Today contributor, Gray Connections blogger

Janet Freeman-Daily is a writer, science geek, and lung cancer patient/activist. She received a diagnosis of advanced non-small cell lung cancer in May 2011 which became metastatic despite chemotherapy and radiation.  After learning about genomic testing and precision medicine in online patient communities, she joined a clinical trial for ROS1-positive lung cancer and has had no evidence of disease for over four years.

After twenty years in aerospace systems engineering, Janet is now a full-time patient activist who translates the experience and science of lung cancer treatment and research to improve outcomes and quality of life for lung cancer patients. She co-moderates the Lung Cancer Social Media (#LSCM) Chat on Twitter as @JFreemanDaily, blogs at, and is one of the leaders of the Global ROS1 Initiative. She has spoken at events and on videos for lung cancer advocacy organizations, hospitals and cancer research centers, oncology conferences, President’s Cancer Panel workshops, and the National Cancer Institute. 


Shirish M. Gadgeel, MD

Dr. Shirish Gadgeel is Co-Leader of the Thoracic Oncology Team in the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan as of May 2017. He also has been appointed Associate Director for Cancer Care (ADCC) at Networking and Affiliated Centers.

Prior to joining Michigan Medicine Dr. Gadgeel was the co-leader of the Molecular Therapeutics Program of the Karmanos Cancer Institute (KCI).

Dr. Gadgeel has conducted and participated in many lung cancer specific trials and has also been a principal investigator of a Southwest Oncology Group trial, S0528 and NCI protocol 7389. He has engaged in many epidemiologic studies in the field of lung cancer, publishing on features of lung cancer in African-Americans and young patients. He is currently the principal investigator of multi-PI R21 to identify ‘driver’ genetic alterations in African-American lung cancer patients. 

Dr. Gadgeel’s clinical research experience spans 14 years. He is a member of the Steering Committees of the Early Therapeutics Committee and Lung Cancer Committee of Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG). He sits on the editorial boards of the medical journals, Clinical Lung Cancer and Cancer, and a reviewer for many others including Clinical Cancer Research, Lancet Oncology and the Journal of Thoracic Oncology. Dr. Gadgeel was awarded by the NCI the Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award in 2012.


Matt Hiznay, ALK patient

ALK+ Patient

Matt Hiznay is a five-year survivor of metastatic, ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer. He was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and grew up in the small town of Poland, Ohio. Matt graduated from Poland Seminary High School in 2006 and from John Carroll University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree magna cum laude.

In August 2011, then 24-year-old Matt was eager to begin his second year of medical school at the University of Toledo. A persistent dry cough sent him to his family doctor, and after a flurry of scans, biopsies, and appointments, Matt was diagnosed with stage IV, ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer. Astonishingly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new drug for ALK-positive patients, crizotinib (Xalkori®, Pfizer), on the same day Matt learned that his cancer was ALK-positive. After a harrowing hospital stay that included Matt twice suffering cardiac arrest, crizotinib began to work—by November 2011, Matt’s cancer was in remission.

Although the cancer has recurred multiple times since 2011, a combination of traditional chemotherapy (carboplatin, bevacizumab and pemetrexed), radiation treatments (with cisplatin), and enrollment in two clinical trials—LDK378, now ceritinib (Zykadia®, Novartis), and PF-06463922, now lorlatinib (Pfizer)—have kept his cancer controlled. Matt celebrated the fifth anniversary of his diagnosis in August 2016.  

When the cancer returned in 2012, Matt decided that he wanted to focus his career on researching new treatments for the patients of tomorrow. He withdrew from Toledo medical school and enrolled in the Molecular Medicine Ph.D. Program at Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Clinic.  

Matt married Ally (née Stojkoska), his college sweetheart, on June 14, 2014. Ally is a pharmacist at Cleveland Clinic Avon Hospital. They purchased their first home in Lakewood, Ohio, in October 2016. Matt will graduate from Case Western Reserve University with his Doctor of Philosophy degree in January 2018.


Nathan Pennell, MD, PhD

DEPARTMENT Hematology and Oncology

PRIMARY LOCATION Cleveland Clinic Main Campus

Dr. Nathan Pennell is a board certified medical oncologist who joined the staff of the Taussig Cancer Center in 2008. He specializes in the treatment of thoracic malignancies with a focus on lung cancer, and was appointed director of the TCI lung cancer medical oncology program in 2010. He is an associate professor medical oncology at the Cleeland Clinic Lerner College.

Dr. Pennell’s research interests include clinical trials using novel therapies, with a goal of facilitating the movement of new treatments from the laboratory to the clinic.


Karen L. Reckamp, MD, MS

PRIMARY LOCATION: City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Beckman
Research Institute

Karen Reckamp, MD, MS, is Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research at City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center (COHCCC). She received her medical degree from University of Chicago, and her master’s degree in Clinical Investigation from UCLA. She completed residency training in Internal Medicine at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and a Hematology/Oncology fellowship at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Her activities at City of Hope include Director of Clinical Trials, Medical Director of the Thoracic Oncology program and Chair of the COHCCC scientific review committee. She is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Lung Cancer (NCCN), Thymic Malignancies and Mesothelioma Guidelines Committees. She serves as principal investigator for many Phase I, II and III studies funded by the National Cancer Institute, internal funds, and industry. Dr. Reckamp is a member of ASCO, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), IASLC, and Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG). She participated in the ASCO Leadership Development Program and led the Scientific Committee for metastatic lung cancer for the ASCO annual meeting. Dr. Reckamp has been the past recipient of many honors including Phase I Clinical Investigator Award in 2006 and ASCO/AACR Methods in Clinical Cancer Research Workshop in 2003. She has also authored or co-authored many manuscripts in the field of Thoracic Oncology.


Kathryn Sefcek, MHA

DEPARTMENT: 4th Angel Mentoring Program

PRIMARY LOCATION: Cleveland Clinic, Taussig Cancer Center

Kathryn Sefcek, MHA has been at the Cleveland Clinic for 6 years and currently serves as a 4th Angel Program Coordinator at the Taussig Cancer Institute managing the day-to-day operations of the 4th Angel Mentoring Program, a patient/survivor, and caregiver support program. Kathryn possesses over 15 years of experience in healthcare coupled with a Master’s Degree in Health Administration from Ohio University and Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Akron. Ms. Sefcek previously served as an Ombudsman at the Cleveland Clinic and prior to joining the Cleveland Clinic, was in business development for home health and hospice services.


Alice Shaw, MD, Ph.D, Massachusetts General Hospital

Alice T. Shaw is the Director of the Center for Thoracic Cancers and the Paula O’Keeffe Endowed Chair of Thoracic Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital.  She is also an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She received her A.B. in Biochemistry from Harvard and her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard Medical School.  She did her residency in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and completed a fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at Dana-Farber/Massachusetts General Hospital.  She completed her postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Tyler Jacks at MIT.   

In addition to caring for patients with lung cancer, Dr. Shaw also performs clinical and translational research.  Her clinical research focuses on a variety of different molecularly defined subsets of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Her translational research focuses on elucidating mechanisms of resistance to targeted therapies.  Based on her research, she has helped to develop numerous FDA-approved targeted therapies for patients with oncogene-driven NSCLC, and her current efforts focus on developing novel combinatorial strategies aimed at overcoming drug resistance.

Dr. Shaw has been awarded a number of research grants, including grants from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the V Foundation for Cancer Research, Uniting Against Lung Cancer, the National Foundation for Cancer Research, SU2C/AACR/ACS, and the NIH/NCI.  In 2014 she was elected as a member to the American Society of Clinical Investigation.  She is a standing member of the FDA Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee and she recently joined the LUNGevity Foundation Scientific Advisory Board.


James Stevenson, MD

DEPARTMENT Hematology and Medical Oncology

PRIMARY LOCATION Cleveland Clinic Main Campus

James P. Stevenson, MD, is currently a Staff Physician at the Cleveland Clinic where he serves as Vice-Chairman of the Taussig Cancer Institute Department of Hematology and Oncology.   

Dr. Stevenson received his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN.  He is a graduate of Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, PA and completed his internship in medicine at the University of Florida Hospitals. He then completed his residency in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in hematology and medical oncology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA.  He is board certified in medical oncology.

His areas of clinical and research interest include the treatment of thoracic malignancies, with a focus on lung cancers and malignant mesothelioma.  He leads the Multi-Disciplinary Pleural Mesothelioma Program at the Cleveland Clinic. 


 Vamsidhar Velcheti, MD

DEPARTMENT Hematology and Oncology

PRIMARY LOCATION Cleveland Clinic Main Campus

Vamsidhar Velcheti, MD, is a staff Physician of Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and staff physician in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute. His specialty areas include lung cancer, mesothelioma, and thymic tumors and the use of novel immunotherapies for the treatment of lung cancer. Dr. Velcheti’s clinical and translational research focuses on identifying patients with molecular changes in the tumor that can predict response to immunotherapy and expanding clinical trials focusing on immunotherapy and novel agents. Dr. Velcheti received his hematology/oncology fellowship training at the Yale-Comprehensive Cancer Center in New Haven, Connecticut. 


Howard Jack West, MD

Dr. Jack West is a medical oncologist and Medical Director of the Thoracic Oncology Program at the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle, Washington. He also serves as President of the medical education website OncTalk, LLC and the Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Education (GRACE).  Dr. West received an M. Phil. in Experimental Biology from Cambridge University on a Fulbright Scholarship before returning to the US to undertake his medical training at Harvard Medical School in Boston, where he earned his MD magna cum laude and conducted research as a Howard Hughes Medical Student Fellow. He stayed in Boston for his internship and residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, then moved to Seattle, Washington for his fellowship in medical oncology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/University of Washington. He moved to the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle in late 2002, where he directs the medical oncology component of thoracic oncology program. He has been repeatedly identified as among the “Best Doctors” in his field in Seattle Metropolitan and Seattle magazines over the past several years.  Dr. West maintains a strong clinical research focus on lung cancer; he currently serves as the principal investigator on several clinical trials of chemotherapy and novel agents and has authored numerous peer-reviewed as well as invited publications. He has been actively involved with the SWOG Lung Cancer Committee on multiple recent and ongoing protocols, and he leads several investigator-initiated trials at his own institution. In addition to his work in lung cancer, he maintains a significant interest in clinical research in prostate cancer and genitourinary oncology.


Sara Whitlock, RET patient

RET+ Patient

Sara was diagnosed with stage IV RET+ lung cancer in 2010. Traditional chemo and radiation followed with great success. In the years since Sara has been on and off treatment several times. She is currently taking nivolumab and doing very well. Sara lives in Dayton, OH with her husband, JD, and two daughters Katie and Elena. Katie just headed off to college at Washington University in St. Louis while Elena is in the 10th grade. Sara has been an active advocate for the lung cancer community doing both fundraising, grant review, and she is a patient advocate for the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology. She is living proof that life doesn’t stop with a stage IV diagnosis!






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