Meet Our Speakers & Session Leaders
Dug McGuirk is an accomplished entrepreneur, musician, producer, and inspirational speaker. Having run his own production company for 10 years, contributing sales of over 150 million records and multiple Grammy’s, a partner in an international hardware and software computer company, toured the United States as a musician and a Senior Peak Performance Strategist / National Trainer/speaker for Tony Robbins, co-authored Multiple Streams of Inspiration with Jack Canfield (author of Chicken Soup for the Soul), Under Construction – Navigating the Detours on the Road to Recovery and a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and board-certified in Neo Ericsonian Hypnosis. Dug is well versed in true life experiences and overcoming personal obstacles to achieve success. He has also overcome a serious drug and alcohol problem early in life. As Co-Founder of Revolutionary Growth, Dug and his wife Heidi are committed to supporting the Transformation of Lives. His greatest passion is to help human beings achieve their full potential and dreams. To support positive paradigm shifts in human consciousness. His training and experience have given him keen insights and skills to support his clients to “Feed their Passion, and Starve their Fear” by allowing them to discover the miracle they always already are! His passion and enthusiasm is only exceeded by his genuine care and desire to honor your Journey…
Prithvi Mruthyunjaya, MD, MHS is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of the Ocular Oncology Service at the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford University. He is a vitreoretinal surgeon who has focused his clinical and academic career to the care of patients with eye cancer.
He grew up in Upstate New York and completed his ophthalmology training at the Duke Eye Center in Durham, North Carolina. After completing a 2-year fellowship in vitreo-retinal surgery, he traveled to London to complete an ocular oncology fellowship at the Moorfields Eye Hospital. He returned to Duke University where he served on faculty for 15 years building a comprehensive eye cancer service.
He has published extensively in the field of ocular oncology, ophthalmic imaging, and complex retinal surgery. In addition, he holds leadership positions in the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Retina Society, and the International
Society of Ocular Oncology. His passion includes teaching the next generation of students, residents, and fellows, and currently serves as the retinal surgery fellowship director at Stanford. He helped found the Ocular Oncology Study Consortium and serves on the executive committee for the Collaborative Ocular Oncology Group.
Jaime Jessen has obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biology from York University, and a Masters in genetic counseling from Newcastle University, Australia. Jaime has earned certification from both the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors and The American Board of Genetic Counseling. Jaime has 13 years of experience as a clinical genetic counselor providing patients and families with the information they require to make informed decisions. Jaime is a resource to both healthcare providers and patients as her role as Medical Science Liaison at Impact Genetics. Jaime’s passion for the provision of support and specialized medical knowledge compliments the high quality genetic testing services offered by Impact Genetics.
Key Note Speaker J. William Harbour, MD Director of Ocular Oncology, Vice Chairman for Translational Research, Mark J. Daily Chair in Ophthalmology, and Associate Director for Basic Research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Dr. J. William Harbour is the ocular oncologist who developed DecisionDx-UM, the first and only validated prognostic test for uveal, or ocular, melanoma. The test predicts with a very high degree of accuracy which uveal tumors will likely spread–and thus ultimately prove fatal–and which will not, a valuable tool for guiding clinical treatment.
He has been the principal investigator on major research grants from the National Cancer Institute, National Eye Institute, Melanoma Research Foundation, Melanoma Research Alliance, Research to Prevent Blindness and other foundations. He founded the Collaborative Ocular Oncology Group that conducted the largest multi-center, prospective study ever performed to validate a molecular prognostic test in uveal melanoma. He also founded the Ocular Oncology Research Society and other collaborative initiatives in eye cancer treatment and research.
Dr. Harbour is currently Professor of Ophthalmology, Vice Chairman for Translational Research, and Director of the Ocular Oncology Service at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami.
She spent her career in human services, trained as a psychotherapist. Her specialties include initially being a children’s therapist specializing in needs impacting the ability to learn in education. Simultaneously she began leading an emergency team for law enforcement and fire personnel over nearly three decades, ‘when bad things happen to them, we go in’.
Managing her stress was with long-distance, both in running and bicycling. Though now, as a Master Gardener time is spent in Nature. Her passion outside of family and friends includes travel, writing and being of service.
Her new book, Coping with Ocular Melanoma: A Toolbox is published. She will talk about its contents here at the conference.
Omid Hamid, MD As the Director of the Melanoma Center and Phase I Immuno-Oncology Program at The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute, Dr. Omid Hamid works to ensure that patients receive access to the most up-to-date therapeutics. Most recently, in his role with the Phase 1 Developmental Therapeutics Program, Dr. Hamid has been instrumental in bringing new therapies from the investigational lab to the clinic for patient benefit. These therapies involve Immuno-Oncologic therapies such as PD-1 inhibitors (Keytruda, Nivolumab, Atezolizumab) and other checkpoint inhibitors, therapies against tumor angiogenesis, and targeted agents that block internal processes in tumor cell’s function (braf,mek). Dr. Hamid’s research focus involves manipulation of a patient’s immune system to attack cancer cells and maintain continuously elevated levels of immunity and discovery of novel therapies. His research began in melanoma and has now extended into paradigm shifting trials for all cancers
Armin Afshar, MD is an ophthalmologist who specializes in treating eye tumors and disorders of the retina and vitreous (the gel-like substance at the back of the eye). He has special expertise in managing ocular surface tumors of the conjunctiva and cornea, as well as intraocular tumors involving the iris, ciliary body, choroid, retina, vitreous or optic nerve.
Afshar’s research focuses on genetic analysis of uveal melanomas and on improving treatments for retinoblastoma.
Afshar earned his bachelor of science and a medical degree in the accelerated honors medical program at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago. He also earned a master of business administration degree at the University of Chicago. He completed a residency in ophthalmology at the University of Chicago and fellowships in vitreoretinal surgery and ocular oncology at UCSF.
Afshar is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, American Society of Retina Specialists, American Association of Ophthalmic Oncologists and Pathologists, and International Society of Ocular Oncology.
Tara McCannel, M.D., Ph.D., the Director of the Ophthalmic Oncology Center at the UCLA Stein Eye Institute of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), is a leader in the field of ophthalmology and diseases of the retina and vitreous. She has pioneered new surgical treatment strategies in ocular melanoma that are both vision-saving and that provide patients with more knowledge about their cancer. Dr. McCannel belongs to a number of professional organizations, including the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the International Association of Ocular Oncology, the Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology, and the American Society of Retina Specialists. She is also a member of both the prestigious Retina and Macula Societies.
Zelia Correa MD, Ph.D., most recently served as the Tom Clancy Endowed Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore. She previously served as Professor of Ophthalmology and Mary Knight Asbury Chair of Ophthalmic Pathology & Ocular Oncology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
“Dr. Correa’s career has been characterized by outstanding accomplishments, not only in the field of ocular oncology, but also in vitreoretinal surgery, ophthalmic pathology, and medical education,” said Eduardo C. Alfonso, MD, Professor and Director of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. “Her extraordinary interdisciplinary expertise will significantly benefit the care of patients who come to Bascom Palmer from around the world,” added Dr. Alfonso, who holds the Kathleen and Stanley J. Glaser Chair in Ophthalmology. Dr. Correa’s research focuses on the use of artificial intelligence to distinguish benign from malignant ocular tumors based on imaging characteristics. She will conduct her research at Bascom Palmer’s Ocular Oncology Laboratory.
Dr. Bertil Eric Damato, MD, Ph.D., is a Professor of Ophthalmology and Radiation Oncology. He did his undergraduate training in Malta, where he was born, and completed his post-graduate education in Glasgow. Before 2013, he was Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, where he was Director of the Ocular Oncology Service, which he established in 1993. Dr. Damato has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, 68 reviews, 75 book chapters, and 6 books, one as a single author. He has served as Founding Secretary then President of the European Ophthalmic Oncology Group; President of the European Vision and Eye Research Association; and Vice-President then President of the International Society of Ocular Oncology.
Amy Schefler, MD graduated from Yale University and received her medical degree from Cornell University, followed by an ocular oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and residency, chief residency, vitreoretinal surgery training, and ocular oncology fellowship training at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. After two years on the faculty at Bascom Palmer, she moved to Houston, Texas where she has been for eight years. In Houston, she runs the adult ocular oncology service at Houston Methodist Hospital and the pediatric ocular oncology service at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. These ocular oncology services are among the busiest in the United States, consistently enrolling among the most patients in multiple large multicenter clinical trials.
Dr. Schefler is a renowned researcher in eye cancer, and has published over 80 peer-reviewed publications, 20 book chapters, and given over 90 national and international meeting presentations. In addition, she serves as a reviewer for 20 major ophthalmic journals. She participates in all of the major currently enrolling multicenter clinical trials in eye cancer in the U.S., including Aura, COOG2, trials in radiation retinopathy, and trials in retinoblastoma.
Kevin Kim, MD is a recognized expert in the field of melanoma, and his research has focused on targeted therapy and immunotherapy. His research has helped early clinical development of BRAF inhibitors, such as vemurafenib, dabrafenib, MEK inhibitors, and trametinib, which are now standard of care for patients with BRAF mutated melanoma. His research has also included the clinical investigation of therapy for other mutations, including cKIT and NRAS and also antiangiogenic drugs as well as novel immunotherapy, such as ipilimumab, anti-PD1 antibodies and cancer vaccines. He is also a senior editor for the journal Melanoma Management
Brian Marr, MD heads the Ophthalmic Oncology Service at the Harkness Eye Institute. He has comprehensive experience in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of ocular tumors including intraocular tumor resection, laser, radiation, and chemotherapy procedures. He has helped devise thousands of complex treatments for tumors of the eye, eyelid, orbit, and conjunctiva for his adult, children, and infant patients. Currently, Dr. Marr is a collaborator on a Columbia University clinical trial for a first-of-its-kind, a new class of drug treatment for uveal melanoma. Dr. Marr is a board-certified ophthalmologist whose work has centered around ophthalmic oncology since 2000. One of the very few ocular oncologists trained in all aspects of eye cancer, Dr. Marr’s clinical experience in treating these diseases is among the most extensive in the United States. His interest and experience in ophthalmic oncology began during an eight-year tenure in the Ocular Oncology Service at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. There, he gained extensive experience treating intraocular tumors, and tumors of the eyelid, orbit, and conjunctiva in children and adults. It was there that Dr. Marr developed and improved many surgical procedures used to cure cancers of the eye, successfully treated thousands of patients, and helped their families though their battle with eye cancer. Next, Dr. Marr moved on to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he remained for nine years, starting in 2008
Timothy G. Murray, MD, MBA is currently the Founding Director/CEO of Ocular Oncology and Retina of Miami Florida. Dr. Murray’s early academic career was focused on the development of an integrated Ocular Oncology service beginning at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. In 2012, Dr. Murray founded the Ocular Oncology and Retina Center in Miami, Florida. Dr. Murray continues as Tenured, Professor Emeritus in Ophthalmology and Radiation Oncology with the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute/Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Dr. Murray’s focus on founding the private Ocular Oncology and Retina Center was related to his ongoing pursuit of excellence in clinical care particularly targeted on advanced imaging and treatment technologies. Dr. Murray’s Ocular Oncology and Retina Center continues to provide International, National and Regional care for patients with life- and sight-threatening complex eye disease.
Monica Bryant, ESQ., is a cancer rights attorney, speaker, and author, dedicated to improving access to, and availability of, quality information on healthcare-related issues. Monica is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer for Triage Cancer, a national non-profit organization that provides education on the practical and legal issues that may impact individuals diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers.
Previously, Monica was Midwest Regional Director for a national cancer rights organization she forged relationships with cancer organizations, hospitals, law firms, other community partners, and members of underserved communities. Prior to relocating to Chicago, Ms. Bryant served as Legislative Counsel for U.S. Congresswoman Linda T. Sanchez and Law Clerk for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. During her time in Congress, Ms. Bryant focused on health, justice, civil rights, and women’s issues. She was also heavily involved in the nomination hearings for United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.
Throughout her career, Monica has provided hundreds of educational seminars, written articles and blogs, and appeared on community television and radio shows discussing healthcare-related legal issues. In 2018, she co-authored a book Cancer Rights Law: An Interdisciplinary Approach.
Additionally, Monica is an Adjunct Law Professor at John Marshall School of Law in Chicago, teaching a class on Cancer Rights. Monica is the Chair, American Bar Association’s (ABA) Breast Cancer Initiative Advisory Committee, and sits on the ABA’s Affordable Care Act Task Force and the Coalition to Protect Parenthood After Cancer.
Monica received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Law & Society, with an emphasis in criminal justice, and Psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara and a Juris Doctor from The George Washington University Law School. She is a member of both the California and Illinois State Bars.
Jennifer Drew earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with advanced certifications in Oncology and Palliative Care. She spent her early career at City of Hope in hematology/oncology and BMT transplant. Jennifer is honored to be the inaugural Clinical Social Worker at The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute. She sees her role within the outpatient oncology setting as a partnership with the medical team dedicated to enhancing our clients’ coping with the adjustment to diagnosis and treatment. Jennifer has a history, spanning over a decade, of studying mindfulness and is Qualified by the University of Massachusetts to lead Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses.
Bobbie Hayes, LMHC, CAP
is a licensed mental health counselor and a certified addictions counselor. Bobbie is currently in private practice in Cooper city and Oakland Park Florida. That is the clinical director at The Way home treatment Center offering intensive outpatient and outpatient services for those suffering from addiction. Bobbie has also been an instructor at Nova Southeastern University for the past 28 years.
When Bobbie is not working she’s loves spending time with her husband, Steve, her daughters, or her four grandchildren. Bobbie is also a mom to 3 four-legged babies.
Chante Pemberton With more than 30 years of experience as a wellness professional, Chante Pemberton joined Blue Zones Project in April of 2016. Chante connects local Faith-Based Organizations, Home Owners Association, and individuals with Blue Zones Project to help them increase their well-being while also helping to improve the health and vitality of the community at large
Chante has lived in Collier County for more than 31 years. Chante served as the marketing director for Urgent Care Centers of Southwest Florida before joining the Blue Zones Project. She is the former Vice President of the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters Lee County, the Volunteer Coordinator for the Youth Development Foundation, President of the Board of Directors for the Society for Handicap Achievement Rehabilitation and Empowerment (SHARE), and has served on the Board of Directors for Wings of Naples.
Chante is also an American Fitness Association of America certified personal trainer and has been active on committees with the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and the Estero Chamber of Commerce.
Chante’s Purpose is to build relationships and present the Blue Zones Project Southwest Florida to help improve the well-being of the community she is passionate about.
John Stolpe B.C.O. John is 3rd generation ocularist, born in Los Angeles California. John worked with his Grandfather and Mother perfecting Digital Iris prosthetics. John enjoys Mountain Biking in his spear time.
Sapna Patel, MD is a melanoma oncologist and associate professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. She received her MD from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. Dr. Patel then completed her clinical internship and residency at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado, and went on to complete a clinical fellowship in medical oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Patel specializes in uveal melanoma with one of the largest clinical metastatic uveal melanoma practices in the world. She has led several investigator-initiated and multi-institutional clinical trials, including studies of targeted therapy, immunotherapy, T-cell therapy, and antibody-drug conjugates for uveal melanoma. Her lab work focuses on translational research, characterizing longitudinal molecular signatures in tumor samples from patients receiving treatment. She has received intramural and extramural funding including NIH and CPRIT grants.
Dr. Patel’s goal is to develop effective therapies for metastatic disease and to identify biomarkers to predict response to treatment. She is board-certified in medical oncology by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Shaheer Khan, MD is a current 3rd-year hematology and oncology fellow at Columbia University Medical Center, where he has spent the last two years working with Dr. Richard Carvajal, a noted uveal melanoma expert. Prior to his fellowship, he completed his residency at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital, where he also served as chief resident. He received his BA from Stony Brook University and his medical degree from the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine. His research focus during fellowship has been centered on translational projects aimed at improving outcomes in patients with uveal melanoma and other rare cutaneous malignancies.
Bob Sonnenberg is the CEO of Earle Baum Center, which aims to create hope and opportunities for people impacted by sight loss to embrace and enrich their personal, social, and economic lives.
Hilary Racher completed her Ph.D. in developmental genetics at the University of Calgary, where her research focused on understanding stem cell regulation. Subsequently, Hilary completed a Molecular Genetics fellowship at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, followed by a locum Molecular Geneticist position at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital Molecular Diagnostic Lab, before joining the Impact Genetics/Dynacare team as Scientific and Operations Director, Genetics in 2014. Hilary is both Canadian and American board-certified in Molecular Genetics
Rick Heart joined the Lighthouse of Collier in February 2015. His primary responsibilities are to teach Assistive Technology lessons and facilitate our weekly Adjustment to Vision Loss support groups. As both an individual with vision loss (Retinitis Pigmentosa) and a counseling background, Rick knows first-hand what it is like to live with vision loss. He enjoys sharing his field expertise and life experience to help his clients build skills and increase their confidence.
Dawn Cardamone is from Bakersfield, CA and I’m married with lots and lots of kids, three mine and three his. I’m an insurance agent but currently staying home to keep our “distance learners” focused. I was diagnosed in August 2018 with a small Choroidal melanoma, at 37 years old. I was treated at UCLA by Dr. McCannel in September 2018. I love to read (mostly ebooks now so I can make the print nice and large!) and watch football.
Heidi McGuirk is a Master Practitioner of NLP, Addiction Professional, and Master Certified Empowerment and Relationship Coach. She specializes in codependency, self-love, dysfunctional/unhealthy relationships, and dealing with addiction in the family. She is co-creator of the Revolutionary Family Program and Love Yourself First Empowerment School.
It’s her passion to equip and certify those who want to help others through her Empowerment Coach University.
Heidi held an esteemed faculty position at one of the world’s leading drug and alcohol treatment centers where she created empowerment programming and facilitated psychoeducational lectures, seminars and group therapy. This experience with thousands of clients over many years led to the creation of much of her life-changing curriculum and proprietary methods.
Heidi blends her vast professional experience, world-class education, and personal experience to create exceptional results with her students and clients..
She has a unique understanding and fresh perspective which helps her to truly get results with those she helps.
Her riveting style of using humor and candor encourages and inspires people to heal.
Dr. Joseph Sacco studied Medicine at the University of Zimbabwe. He joined the Specialist Registrar Training Programme in Mersey Deanery in April 2006, where he completed his training in Medical Oncology. Dr Sacco was appointed as Clinical Research Fellow at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in November 2013 before taking up a substantive post as Clinical Senior Lecturer in Medical Oncology at the University of Liverpool and Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in June 2014.
Dr. Sacco was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool in July 2013 Investigating roles for the deubiquitylating enzymes in the PtdIns3-K/PKB pathway in cancer.
He is actively involved in the recruitment and follow up of patients on phase Ib, II, and III trials, in melanoma and head and neck cancer, with a subspeciality interest in uveal melanoma.
Kristen Gygi joined the NORD Research Team in 2017. She supports Registry Sponsors to design, develop and launch registries on the NORD IAMRARE™ Registry Platform. She oversees the Data Engineering function, which includes survey development and implementation.
2020 Eye Believe Survivorship Seminar Session Schedule