Our Team

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Erika Vial Monteverdi

Executive Director

Since 2016, Erika has played a central role at Cancer Commons, one of Silicon Valley’s only nonprofits focused on serving cancer patients globally through aligning incentives around the patient to produce better outcomes. As Executive Director, Erika is responsible for overseeing the growth of Cancer Commons and operations. Today, Cancer Commons is one of the leading cancer knowledge networks. The network brings together the world’s top cancer experts, advisors, pharma, oncologists, and super-patient groups, all focused on delivering the best treatment option to each person with cancer, at scale globally. Before joining Cancer Commons, Erika took time to start a family here in the Bay Area after working abroad in Europe as a strategic management consultant in the Strategic Information Technology Practice in AT Kearney. She then moved into a leadership role with Wunderman, a global digital agency and CRM company, headquartered in New York with 200 offices in 70 markets. Erika earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego, where she double majored in Political Science and Economics and received her International MBA from SDA Bocconi in Milan, Italy, one of the most prestigious business schools in the world. Erika is fluent in three languages, a mother of three, and is committed to helping the lives of others while making an impact on the organizations she serves.

 

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Jeff Shrager

Chief Technical Officer

As an undergraduate studying Computer Science at UPenn, Jeff developed the first intelligent software agents (what we now call “wizards”). At CMU, studying with Herb Simon and Al Newell, he became interested in scientific reasoning and discovery, and has since been working on intelligent agents that help scientists in their wide-ranging activities. For the past two decades he’s been doing this in molecular micro-biology and in cancer. Jeff co-founded two mildly successful startups in drug discovery robotics and computational oncology. As Cancer Commons CTO, Jeff leads the organization’s exploratory initiatives.

 

George Lundberg, MD

Editor in Chief

A 1995 “pioneer” of the medical Internet, Dr. Lundberg was born in Florida, grew up in lower Alabama, and holds earned and honorary degrees from North Park College, Baylor University, the University of Alabama (Birmingham and Tuscaloosa), the State University of New York, Syracuse, Thomas Jefferson University and the Medical College of Ohio. He served 11 years in the U.S.Army during the Vietnam War era. Dr. Lundberg was professor of pathology and ran the labs at the Los Angeles County/University of Southern California (USC) Medical Center for 10 years and was professor and chair of pathology at the University of California, Davis, for 5 years. Dr. Lundberg has worked in tropical medicine and forensic medicine in multiple countries. He is past president of the American Society for Clinical Pathology. From 1982 to 1999, Dr. Lundberg was editor-in-chief at the American Medical Association (AMA), with editorial responsibility for its 39 medical journals, American Medical News, and various television and internet products, and the editor of JAMA. In 1999, Dr. Lundberg became editor-in-chief of Medscape, and the founding editor-in-chief of both Medscape General Medicine and CBS’ HealthWatch.com. He served as the editor-in-chief of The Medscape Journal of Medicine, the original open access general medical journal, and beginning in 2006, editor-in-chief of eMedicine from WebMD, the original open access comprehensive medical textbook. A frequent lecturer and webcasting guest and host and a member of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Lundberg was an adjunct professor at Harvard University from 1993 to 2008 and has been a consulting professor at Stanford University since 2005. From 2010 to 2013 Dr Lundberg was Editor-at-Large, MedPage Today, and, since 2009, President and Board Chair of The Lundberg Institute. From 2010 to 2018, Dr Lundberg served as Editor in Chief and Chief Medical Officer of CollabRx. He is currently Chief Medical Officer of Self Care Catalysts. In 2000, The Industry Standard dubbed Dr. Lundberg “Online Healthcare’s Medicine Man.”

 

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Emma Shtivelman, PhD

Chief Scientist

Emma Shtivelman is a molecular and cell biologist with extensive experience in cancer biology. She has in-depth understanding of cancer signal transduction and metabolism, cancer models in vitro and in vivo, target and drug discovery and validation, assay development, and preclinical research. She has technical expertise in numerous modern methodologies employed to understand the molecular basis of human malignancies and advance preclinical and clinical research.

Emma received her PhD in molecular biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science where she identified the fused transcript between two cellular genes, BCR and ABL in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), the first demonstration of an oncogenic gene product derived from a chromosomal translocation. As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), she characterized the molecular consequences of chromosomal translocations in Burkitt lymphoma and identified gene products relevant to the pathogenesis of neuroblastoma.  She worked at Systemix on establishing a novel SCID-hu metastasis model to enable the in vivo analysis of human tumor metastasis. She continued her research activity at the UCSF Cancer Center analyzing deregulation of signal transduction pathways in human cancer and the molecular underpinnings of metastatic progression. Before joining Cancer Commons, Emma worked at BioNovo, Inc., researching new drugs that selectively disrupt metabolism of breast and pancreatic cancers by targeting their metabolic preferences.

 

Kalpana Kannan, PhD

Cancer Commons Scientist

Kalpana Kannan, PhD, is a molecular biologist by training with extensive interest in cancer genomics and cancer signaling pathways. She received her PhD in Biochemistry from Texas A&M University, where she defined the components of the plant telomerase ribonucleoprotein complex. As a postdoctoral associate at Baylor College of Medicine, she was interested in understanding the changes in the transcriptome in patient tumors. This led to the identification of novel gene fusions in high-grade serous ovarian cancer that mainly target the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway. Kalpana also identified chimeric RNAs in prostate cancers that are promising non-invasive urine biomarkers. At the Helen Diller Cancer Center at UCSF, she continued to focus on cancer research. She developed CRISPR/Cas9 tools for genome-wide screens in breast cancer cell line models as well as studied the drug sensitivity of certain mutations found in metastatic breast cancer patients. Before joining Cancer Commons, Kalpana worked briefly at a start-up to develop a clinical-grade next generation sequencing platform for genetic cancer testing.

 

Amanda Nottke, PhD

Cancer Commons Scientist

Amanda Nottke, PhD, is a molecular biologist and corporate strategist, with a longstanding interest in oncology and scientific communication. She has particular expertise in genetics and molecular pathways, targeted therapies, and immunotherapies, as well as the latest and most promising therapies in brain, breast, and lung cancers. She also specializes in risk assessment for early stage cancers, e.g., how to maximize benefit with least risk of side effects from unnecessary treatments.

A graduate of University of Oregon, Amanda worked as a research technician at OHSU for 2 years, before starting her PhD at Harvard University in 2005. While at Harvard, she defined a novel role for a histone demethylase enzyme in meiotic DNA damage repair – an enzyme that has since been implicated in several forms of cancer including leukemias. She completed her PhD in 2011 and then worked as a management consultant with Monitor Group, focusing on pharmaceutical and life sciences clients. Her oncology projects at Monitor and subsequently Blue Matter Consulting included drug launch strategies, brand planning, international expansion strategy, and franchise strategy. She was recruited to Roche Genentech as a Strategy Lead for their cancer immunotherapy franchise, and worked there for over a year before leaving to join Cancer Commons as an ASK Scientist and member of the Product Team.

 

Sandy Noack

Development Officer, Patient Concierge

As Cancer Commons’ patient concierge, Sandy serves as a personal liaison to major donors, their colleagues, families and friends navigating their cancer journey via Ask Cancer Commons in search of relevant trials, treatment options, and expert insights and rationales to share with their oncological team for the best possible outcome. As Cancer Commons’ development officer, Sandy collaborates with our leadership and major donors to thoughtfully grow and strengthen Cancer Commons’ network of support.

Sandy also works as a consulting development officer for the Hide & Seek Foundation for Lysosomal Research, raising funds in support of collaborative, cutting-edge medical research, and knows well how intellectual exploration and collaboration can lead to magnificent contributions.

Prior to joining the Cancer Commons team, Sandy managed a $5M round one capital investor fundraising program at CollabRx, Inc., developing a prospective investor list and working hand-in-hand with CollabRx Founder Marty Tenenbaum to cultivate prospective investors.

Sandy has a M.A. from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

 

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Masako Yokota

Director of Administration, Executive Assistant to the Founder & Chairman

As Director of Administration and Executive Assistant to Marty Tenenbaum, Masako works behind the scenes, taking care of critical logistics so that Marty can focus on the bigger vision of Cancer Commons and make it a reality.

Prior to joining Cancer Commons, Masako worked in a variety of sectors, including venture capital, real estate, academia, and technology. With 10+ years of experience supporting C-level executives, she aspires to apply all her knowledge and assist the team to achieve the best resolutions. As a non-smoker lung cancer survivor, she is committed to increasing awareness of the stigma surrounding this particular form of cancer.

Masako, a native of Japan, has a B.A. in music and teaches young children piano and voice. She also volunteers at local schools as a guest conductor for musical productions.

 

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Piers Mahon

Director, Global Alliances

In his role as the Director of Global Alliances, Piers helps link European cancer information and patient advocacy groups to the commons for broader global patient benefit. A particular focus within that is the creation of stratified, consented, real world outcome registries in Europe’s national healthcare systems to create world class research tools for precision medicine development.

Previously, Piers was with management consultants Bain & Company for 14 years, focusing on drug development, innovation strategy and healthcare private equity. There he worked on a number of precision medicine launches, including leading the global launch plan for ponatinb (now Inclusig®) in Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia with ARIAD pharmaceuticals in Boston. He has had a long interest in not-for-profit and social enterprise, with clients ranging from the Wellcome Trust (the 2nd largest biomedical research foundation globally) to smaller venture-philanthropy organizations such as The Impetus Trust (now Impetus-PEF). Piers combines his role at Cancer Commons with independent consulting in precision medicine development and deployment.

Piers has a PhD from Cambridge University in proteomics, where he also completed his undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences. He is based in London.

 

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Sarah Stanley

Science Writer

Sarah Stanley prepares actionable, patient-friendly content across multiple platforms for people dealing with cancer. Her writing has previously appeared in Discover magazine and in Popular Science. She has also written for PLOS, the American Geophysical Union, the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and for the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. Sarah studied microbiology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

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Martha Dehnow

Chief Financial Officer

As Chief Financial Officer, Martha Dehnow handles all aspects of finance and accounting for Cancer Commons. Her specialty is helping startups and small companies grow to their fullest potential by allowing founders to focus on their core business. Prior to Cancer Commons, Martha worked for CommerceNet and BDNA Corporation. She has also worked for early stage startups, such as EIT and Veo Systems, which were later acquired by VeriFone, Hewlett-Packard, and CommerceOne.

 

Alumni

Lisandra West-Odell (Scientist and Product Manager)
Vaishali Walia (Director of Engineering)
Stacey Tinianov (Director of Patient Services)
William T. Wong, PhD (Executive Director)
Sarah Greene (Executive Director, now at Rapid Science)
Ash Shairzay (Design Director)
Alam Kasenally (Engineering Director)