We’re excited to announce some fantastic new additions to both our Board of Directors and our Board’s Patient Services Committee. Each of these individuals brings a unique set of skills that will improve our efforts to serve and support the needs of the chordoma community.
Please join us in welcoming them to their new roles and thanking all of our Board and Committee members for their unwavering dedication, guidance, and support.
New Board Members
Christopher Heery, MD
Dr. Chris Heery is the Chief Medical Officer for Precision BioSciences. Prior to joining Precision BioSciences, he served as Chief Medical Officer of Bavarian Nordic where he initiated and sponsored a Phase 2 clinical trial testing a brachyury vaccine for chordoma. Before that, Dr. Heery served as the Director of the Clinical Trials Group at the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland. During his 7 years at the NCI, his clinical research focused on the use of novel agents capable of inducing the immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells, including chordoma. While there, he worked closely with the Foundation to launch two chordoma clinical trials and define appropriate endpoints in chordoma. Dr. Heery has served on the Chordoma Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board since 2015. He is a graduate of Duke University and received his MD from East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine.
“We have reached a critical turning point for chordoma in which science is starting to outpace the progression of an individual’s disease. The stage is now set for new treatments and cures to be available in our lifetime and I look forward to working with the rest of the board to help make this vision a reality.”
Julie Song is the Vice President, Associate General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at Advance Auto Parts. Before joining Advanced Auto Parts, she served as the Chief Compliance Counsel at IQVIA (formerly Quintiles), the world’s largest biopharmaceutical services provider. Julie has a deep understanding of the compliance and regulatory issues affecting the life sciences sector and previously served on the securities enforcement defense group at WilmerHale LLP in Washington, D.C. Born and raised in North Carolina, she graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina School of Law. She has been closely connected to the Chordoma Foundation since her father was diagnosed with chordoma in 2012.
“The Chordoma Foundation will always be a focal point for our family, and I am grateful for the opportunity to help serve and support other families whose lives have been forever changed by chordoma. It’s particularly exciting to be joining the Board at this moment of rapid progress in research and care, and I look forward to being part of the effort to ensure every patient can benefit.”
Julie will succeed her sister, Paula Song, who has ably served on the Board since 2013. During her tenure, Paula served as both Board treasurer as well as chair of the Patient Services Committee. One of her most notable contributions was the completion of the first-ever large-scale analysis of symptoms and life challenges caused by chordoma, which was published in the journal Quality of Life Research in 2017. This article opened the door to improved understanding and management of the disease. Though Paula has reached the limit of her term on the Board, she will continue to serve as a member of the Patient Services Committee. We are deeply grateful Paula for her extraordinary service to the organization and the community for the past six years and to the entire Song family for their continued dedication to the cause.
New Patient Services Committee Members
Yen-Lin Chen, MD
Dr. Yen-Lin Chen is a board-certified radiation oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and completed her internal medicine internship at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and radiation oncology residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Chen has cared for many chordoma patients in her more than 10 years with the multidisciplinary Stephan L. Harris Center for Chordoma Care at MGH and more recently as a member of the Cancer Survivorship research team at MGH. She is the principal investigator of the MGH Sarcoma Data Repository of more than 13,500 cases, with a focus on sarcoma outcomes, clinical trials, translational research, and survivorship. She also chairs an NCI/CTEP sponsored National Clinical Trials Network trial in intermediate-high risk sarcomas. Her clinical interests include sarcomas, chordoma, proton therapy, novel combinations of sensitizing agents with radiation therapy, using functional imaging to improve tumor targeting and response monitoring, intraoperative radiation therapy, and brachytherapy.
Al Ferreira, RN
After graduating from Northeastern University, Al Ferreira’s 30-year clinical career has included working in critical care, post-anesthesia, perioperative, and orthopedic nursing. In addition, he has worked as a clinical analyst in information systems and as a perioperative informatics consultant for two software firms. After a long career with Massachusetts General Hospital, most recently with the Stephan L. Harris Center for Chordoma Care, Al moved to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to support the opening of a chordoma center there.
Sasha Knowlton, MD
Dr. Knowlton is an instructor and the Assistant Director of Cancer Rehabilitation in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Network/Harvard Medical School. She currently sees patients at Massachusetts General Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and is part of the multidisciplinary chordoma clinic at MGH. She received her medical degree at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She attended residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Network/Harvard Medical School, where she served as Chief Resident, followed by a fellowship in Cancer Rehabilitation at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Knowlton is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Her clinical and research interests are in cancer rehabilitation, with the goal of improving the function and quality of life of cancer patients during all aspects of cancer treatment and survivorship.
The Patient Services Committee was formed in 2017 to support the growth and improvement of our Patient Services programs. It is currently comprised of six professionals with experience that spans patient navigation, health education, social work, nursing, palliative care, patient-centered outcomes research, and survivorship. The committee is chaired by Dr. Ed Les, a pediatric emergency medicine physician and a clival chordoma survivor from Alberta, Canada.
As we welcome our new committee members, we would also like to acknowledge and thank inaugural members Mike O’Brien and Vickie Leff who recently concluded their service to the committee. We are grateful they lent their time and talents to help create a better experience for chordoma patients and families and look forward to continuing this important work.
Find more about the Patient Services Committee and read bios of current committee members »