Chordoma Foundation

Board Committees

Board committees provide ongoing oversight and strategic planning for the Foundation’s key functional areas. They include both Chordoma Foundation directors and external advisers who provide expertise and perspective in subjects relevant to the business of the committee.


Finance

Board Members


Research

Board Members

External Advisers

Kurt Bachman, PhD

Research Committee

Kurt Bachman leads a group of scientists at Janssen Research & Development (R&D) that supports data collection, integration, and translation across R&D with the goal of identifying novel disease mechanisms to drive early drug development and treatment strategies. After receiving his PhD in Molecular Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of medicine with a focus on cancer epigenetics, he did his postdoctoral training at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center with a focus on cancer genetics. He also spent time as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Radiation Oncology at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, and as the Head of Translational Sciences, Molecular Medicine Unit at GlaxoSmithKline. Kurt’s niece, Alli, was diagnosed with chordoma in 2013 and is now living the life of a typical teenage girl with a bright future.

Jeffrey Collins, PhD

Research Committee

Jeffrey Collins is Executive-in-Residence at Pappas Ventures, a life sciences-focused venture capital firm in Research Triangle Park, NC, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology at Duke University. After an initial career as a viral immunologist in academic research at Duke, focusing on the immunotherapy of virus-induced leukemia, he served as a Project Officer in the National Toxicology Program at NIEHS and then headed up drug development programs with cephalosporin and fluoroquinolone antibiotics at Glaxo and Glaxo-Wellcome. He subsequently held senior-level positions at two global CROs (ClinTrials Research and PAREXEL International) before joining Pappas Ventures.

William Phelps, PhD

Research Committee

Bill Phelps is currently the Director of Preclinical and Translational Cancer Research in the Extramural Department at the National Home Office of the American Cancer Society. He manages peer review committees focused on cell biology, infectious disease, molecular genetics, and cancer drug discovery. Bill earned his PhD in Microbiology from the University of Minnesota in 1985 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute for 3 yrs until taking a position with Burroughs Wellcome Co. in 1988. He remained in antiviral and anticancer research for 13 years with GlaxoWellcome and GlaxoSmithKline. Additionally, he held an appointment as Adjunct Professor of Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University Medical Center from 1996-2004, and he spent 2½ yrs with a small startup biotech company as VP, Research and Development until joining the American Cancer Society in 2004.

John Therien, JD

Research Committee

John Therien is a partner with Smith Anderson in Raleigh, NC. He advises a broad range of clients in commercial transactions involving intellectual property, including domestic and international corporate partnering, patent and technology licensing, research and development collaborations, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, supply chain, distribution, and co-promotion arrangements, and other strategic commercial transactions. John has extensive experience advising companies in the agricultural biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries and also frequently counsels clients in the diagnostics, medical device, software, video game, and technology sectors on transactional matters. Prior to joining Smith Anderson, John practiced at Ropes & Gray LLP in Boston. John is a graduate of Harvard College and received his law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley.


Patient Services

Board Members

External Advisers

Karen Cox, PhD, RN, FAAN

Patient Services Committee

Dr. Karen Cox is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Children’s Mercy – Kansas City. Children’s Mercy is an independent, nonprofit 367-bed pediatric health system, providing more than half a million patient encounters yearly with total revenues of $1.25 billion. She holds the inaugural V. Fred Burry, MD, and Sandra Hobart Burry Chair in Nursing Advocacy and Leadership. Dr. Cox’s clinical background was pediatric hematology/oncology/bone marrow transplant. She was one of the first certified pediatric hematology oncology nurses in the US. She recently served as Board Chair of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, a $400 million foundation promoting quality healthcare for the underserved. Dr. Cox is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).  She is also a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing where she serves as President Elect (2016–2017) and President (2015–2019). Her nephew was diagnosed with chordoma in 2015.

Vickie Leff, LCSW, BCD, ACHP-SW

Patient Services Committee

Vickie Leff, LCSW, BCD, ACHP-SW is a Clinical Social Worker with the Palliative Care Department at Duke University Hospital. She received her MSW from Simmons School of Social Work in Boston. She worked for many years as an oncology social worker at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, as well as the Patient Services Director at the American Cancer Society. She is on the Board of Directors of the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) and American Association of Clinical Social Work (ACSWA).

Mike O’Brien, MSW, LICSW

Patient Services Committee

Mike O’Brien has more than 26 years of administrative experience in the healthcare field at a large academic medical center. Since 2004, Mike has administered the Office of Patient Health and Education for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He holds an additional appointment as the Administrator for Employee Community Health – Core Process Team. In 2009, he was named Education Administrator for the Department of Medicine, and in 2014, was appointed Assistant Professor of Medical Education in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Mike holds Master of Social Work and Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Iowa.


Development

Board Members

External Adviser

Joe Villinski

Development Committee

Joe Villinski is a Principal at Xseed Fundraising Solutions where he delivers strategies, programs, and results that create short- and long-term organizational growth opportunities. He also currently works with both national and local nonprofit clients as a Fundraising Expert with DonorPath. As a hands-on fundraising and communications professional, Joe has driven nonprofit organization growth since 2003. Joe is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, has a background in journalism, and holds a Master’s Degree in Education. He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and Association of Consultants to Nonprofits, and an award-winning writer. Based in Chicago, he is a married father of two, and is proud and grateful his father-in-law’s battle with clival chordoma in 2013 resulted in a positive outcome.