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BREAST CANCER RESEARCH COUNCIL

The Breast Cancer Research Council is made up of advocates, scientists, clinicians and representatives from industry and nonprofit health organizations who have extensive interest in breast cancer issues.

Council members are chosen to represent the people who are affected by breast cancer and the institutions that can contribute to the solution. Their passion to prevent, treat and cure breast cancer is driven by practical priorities: to identify the most urgent and unanswered question about breast cancer, and to find the greatest opportunities for making an impact on the burdens caused by the disease.

The council is responsible for tracking the trends and opportunities for progress that arise in the breast cancer community, making funding recommendations, and planning future directions of the CBCRP.

2021-2022 BREAST CANCER RESEARCH COUNCIL MEMBERS

Rati Fotedar, ph.D.

Scientist/Clinician, Sanford-Burnham Prebys. Medical Discovery Institute

Rati Fotedar has directed research in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cancer biology, with a focus on the biochemical and molecular framework of DNA damage signaling. Comprehensive understanding of these pathways allows for the development of compounds that target the DNA damage response, suppressing the therapeutic resistance of cancer cells and improving outcomes in radiation and chemotherapy. She has published extensively in top research journals and has presented her work at national and international conferences.

Rati Fotedar has a Ph.D. in Immunology.  She did her post-doctoral work on mechanisms of cell cycle control at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. She has directed research on cell cycle control and DNA damage response as a Professor with the CNRS in Grenoble, France, and in San Diego at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, and later at the NCI designated Cancer Center at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. She has served as a grant and fellowship reviewer for many institutes and foundations, including the Wellcome Trust and Human Frontiers of Science Foundation. She is currently a consultant, and also an Adjunct Professor in the San Diego Community College District. She is using her background as a scientist and educator to ensure that high school and college students have access to a quality STEM education. She is engaged in technical education programs for community college students and professional development programs for science teachers, many of whom serve diverse student populations.

Term: 9/1/2019-8/31/2023

CLARA OMOGBAI, DrPH, MPH, MLS

Project Director, California Health Collaborative

Clara Omogbai is the Project Director for the California Health Collaborative’s Every Woman Counts (EWC) program covering seven of the State’s ten regions. She has been with the program which is housed within the California Department of Health Care Services’ Cancer Detection and Treatment Branch for over 13 years. She has a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Ibadan and a doctorate from Loma Linda University. Also a graduate of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and Loma Linda University School of Public Health, Dr. Omogbai has worked extensively on various Public Health interventions as a Consultant with ETR on HIV/AIDS programs, and as a Researcher at Loma Linda University where she developed curriculum for prostate cancer screening for African American men. She is actively involved with Susan G Komen Inland Empire, American Cancer Society and Inland Empire Access to Cancer Care Coalition, and has presented some of her research work such as the connection between breast cancer and beauty products among Black Women at the American Public Health Association annual conference. Her research interest include Women’s Health, Chronic Diseases, Disparities and Access to Care.

Term: 9/1/20-8/31/2023

Michele Atlan

Advocate, Breast Cancer Care and Research Fund

Michele Atlan has been a breast cancer survivor since 2013. After her diagnosis, Michele became certified as an Emergency Medical Technician. She graduated from the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s (NBCC) Project LEAD in 2015 and participated in the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium as a scholarship recipient from the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation. In addition, Michele regularly participates in the Advanced Project LEAD pilot program and was asked to be a Project LEAD mentor in 2017 and 2019.

Currently serving as the vice-president of the Breast Cancer Care & Research Fund (BCCRF) in Los Angeles, Michele has participated as a consumer reviewer for the DoD's Breast Cancer Research Program, and was the advocate observer on the Community Impact 2019 Review Panel for the California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP). Recently, Michele was a finalist and the Audience Award winner for the CBCRP’s “Global Challenge to Prevent Breast Cancer” competition. Since 2018, she has been an alternate board member of the NBCC as well as being a member of the planning committee for their annual Summit.

Term: 9/1/2019-8/31/2023

Abigail Arons, MPH

Advocate, Breast Cancer Action

Abigail Arons, is a senior clinical research coordinator at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Since 2001, she has led program evaluation and policy analysis projects at UCSF, focusing on reproductive and sexual health. Currently, she coordinates a national randomized clinical trial to prevent HPV-related anal cancer among adults living with HIV.

Abigail was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31. While she has a family history of breast cancer, and always knew the possibility that she or one of her sisters might develop breast cancer, her diagnosis was still a shock. Throughout her experience of treatment, she educated herself about treatment options, worked with her doctors to make decisions that felt informed by both science and her own values, and provided and received support from peers in a local breast cancer group (BAYS). She served for 6 years on the Board of Directors for Breast Cancer Action, a national watchdog organization for the breast cancer movement. Abigail is thrilled to join the council and participate in shaping breast cancer research priorities for California, engage with other advocates at the state level, and hopefully prevent more young women from getting a cancer diagnosis.

Term: 9/1/2019 - 8/31/2023

Colleen Carvalho, LMFT, MA

Advocate, Bay Area Cancer Connections 

Colleen Carvalho is the Director of Programs and Services at Bay Area Cancer Connections (BACC), a community-based organization dedicated to supporting anyone affected by breast or ovarian cancer. She provides the leadership and management for all of BACC’s programs and services, including providing strategic direction, developing programs, and managing all of the program staff. In this role Colleen oversees the over 50 groups and classes that take place each month, BACC’s Screening Navigation Program that supports those who are uninsured or underinsured in receiving breast cancer screening services, the Volunteer Program, and the Medical Information Services Program. Colleen has been a member of the BACC team for over ten years. Prior to being in a senior leadership position, Colleen provided direct service to clients as a facilitator of support groups for those diagnosed with breast cancer and as a therapist in the larger community. Colleen is also a member of the Silicon Valley Cancer Survivorship Coalition.

Colleen was also a volunteer for Zero Breast Cancer in Marin County and was awarded their Shining Star Award in 2004. Colleen lost a family member to breast cancer at a young age and is deeply passionate about providing support to those affected by cancer. Colleen earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University. Colleen is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT#99472).

Term: 9/1/19-8/31/23

Bryan Goldner, DO

Scientist/Clinician, Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center

Bryan Goldner is currently a surgeon and partner with Southern California Permanente Medical Group (SCPMG) and the Director of the Breast Center at Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Hospital, an NAPBC accredited breast center. As chair for the Regional Breast Cancer Surgery Group and co-chair for the Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Group for SCPMG, Dr Goldner has been able to ensure the highest level of care for, not only his own medical center, but also the Southern California Kaiser Permanente region of 4.5 million members.  He leads the effort to maintain his own hospital’s NAPBC accreditation, the gold standard for breast centers, as well as assisting other regional medical centers in maintaining theirs. His research has been published in various medical journals including The Annals of Surgical Oncology and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Along with his roles within SCPMG, Dr Goldner is a Clinical Instructor for the Harbor/UCLA Department of Surgery and is a well-respected member of numerous national surgical organizations including the Society of Surgical Oncology, the American Society of Breast Surgeons, and a fellow of the American College of Surgeon.  He is a graduate of Kansas City University School of Medicine and Biosciences.  He completed his general surgical residency at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and a 1-year clinical surgical oncology fellowship at City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte. 

Term: 9/1/21-8/31/24

Phyllis Howard, MSN, FNP, CDCES

Advocate, Sister to sister African-American Support Group

Phyllis Howard recently retired from Contra Costa County Health Services in March 2021, as a family nurse practitioner for 25 years in Family Practice, serving a multicultural and diverse population. Prior to working as a family nurse practitioner, she worked at Alta Bates Medical Center in the Intensive Care Unit supporting , teaching and monitoring critically ill patients from 1986-1996. She received both her MSN and BSN from Sonoma State University, in addition to her Associate degree in Nursing from Merritt College. Phyllis is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner since 1995, Registered Nurse since 1986 and Certified Diabetes Care and Educational Specialist since 2007. Phyllis’s interest in breast cancer research developed after being diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2009 and while being treated at UCSF for her cancer care, she was enrolled and participated in a five year clinical trial looking at aggressive treatment in early stage breast cancer.

Term: 9/1/21-8/31/24

Christine Meda, MS

Private Industry, IncellDx

Chris Meda, currently Chief Business Officer (CBO) at IncellDx. Over the last seven years, she has overseen Operations, Business to Business Partnerships, CDx Programs and Commercial Revenue activities. Through her 30 years of leadership in the global diagnostic and pharmaceutical industries, her management responsibilities have ranged from VP to President to CEO where she created worldwide strategic business direction and plans, operations and commercialization of more than 30 products for various disease areas at Hoffman-LaRoche, Schering AG pharmaceuticals, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Diagnostics Products Corporation (now Siemens), Meridian Diagnostics. Currently, as CBO, is also National Vice-Chair, of Women in BIO-Sponsorship, an organization of professionals committed to promoting careers, leadership, and entrepreneurship of women in the life sciences; and, a Board Director for Claremont BioSolutions, a company providing laboratories with diagnostics and devices for molecular diagnostics and bioscience research.

Prior to IncellDx, Ms. Meda was President of Response Genetics (RGI), a precision medicine company that developed genetic tests for lung, colon, gastric and melanoma cancers. Prior to RGI, she was CEO, President at Arcxis Biotechnologies a venture backed start-up with a focus on molecular diagnostic extraction devices and reagents.  Arcxis was sold to Fluidigm in September, 2010. At Hoffman-LaRoche, Chris was VP of the Roche Molecular Diagnostics Division: Global Women’s Health and subsequently became Vice President of Business Development. Her leadership role and portfolio responsibilities included global strategic planning for the portfolio, oversight of research and development and the commercialization of PCR-based diagnostics for HPV, Chlamydia, HSV and Group B Streptococcus. Her business development role was focused on companion diagnostics.

Term: 9/1/2019-8/31/2023

ANA NAVARRO, PH.D.

Scientist/Clinician, UCSD Family Medicine and Public Health 

Ana Navarro is a Professor in the department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).  Since joining UCSD her research agenda and publications have focused on the use of community-based participatory interventions to improve health status and access to health care in underserved communities with a special emphasis on health equity. Her work builds on innovative community-based health interventions addressing health disparities, and her community health advisor projects have pioneered the field to enhance health and to improve access to health care.  The projects developed under her leadership represent innovative research models that are at the vanguard of the community-based participatory health research current trends. She also committed to community service and to training and mentoring. Further, her leadership has been critical to the development of a broad community partner network that has been progressively built and integrated into the work of the academic partner institutions. Dr. Navarro has also served as director in the development of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) Advanced Practicum, a component of the UC San Diego BSPH that integrates the academic public health curriculum with applied research endeavors, community linkages and student-centered experiential learning.

Term: 9/1/2016-8/31/2022 

Sharon Pitteri, Ph.D.

Scientist, Stanford University

Sharon Pitteri is an Associate Professor at the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection in the Department of Radiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine.  She is a member of the Stanford Cancer Institute, Stanford Bio-X Program, and Stanford Cancer Biology Program.  She received her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Carleton College and her PhD in Chemistry from Purdue University.  Dr. Pitteri did her postdoctoral research in Molecular Diagnostics at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  Her current research focuses primarily on breast and prostate cancers and the identification of proteins and other molecules that are indicative of early stage and/or aggressive cancer in blood, tissue, and proximal fluids.  Her lab develops and applies mass spectrometry-based methods to study protein glycosylation in order to better understand cancer biology and ultimately improve cancer diagnosis.  Dr. Pitteri has received funding for her research by the National Institutes of Health, Canary Foundation, American Society for Mass Spectrometry, California Breast Cancer Research Program, and Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. 

Term: 9/1/2019 - 8/31/2023

Svetlana Popova, MD, MPH

Ex-Officio, CDHCS - Every Woman Counts Program

Svetlana Popova has worked at the Cancer Detection Section (CDS), California Department of Public Health since February 2009. She serves as a Public Health Medical Officer at the Benefits Division, Department of Health Care Services. As a medical advisor she assists in developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluation clinical interventions and provider education and trainings for “Every Woman Counts, (EWC)” program, which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening, diagnostic, patient navigation services, health education and outreach. 

Dr. Popova was the Principal Investigator (PI) for California Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP) and California National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), federal part of “Every Woman Counts” Program. She is a member of California Dialogue on Cancer (CDOC) Executive Committee and Advisory Committee for California’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan. She also serves as a medical consultant for The Prostate Cancer Treatment Program (PCTP), aka IMProving Access, Counseling & Treatment for Californians with Prostate Cancer (IMPACT). 

Dr. Popova received her medical degree at the Urals State Medical Academy in Russia in 1996. She was a part of the international team working for the Medical Education Partnership Project with Yale School of Medicine, Rochester School of Medicine and SUNY, sponsored by USAID/IREX. She was also involved with many other international projects sponsored/funded by CDC and John Hopkins University in the area of Reproductive, Maternal and Infant Health.  Dr. Popova held the position of Director of Patient Services at the American Medical Center in Kiev, Ukraine.

Dr. Popova completed UC Davis Family and Community Medicine Residency Program in 2006 and 2-year fellowship programs: Women's Health and Primary Care Outcome Research at UC Davis Health System and received MPH degree from UC Davis in 2008. The areas of her interest are Preventative Medicine, International and Women's Health.

Ujwala Rajgopal, MD, FACS, FICS

Medical Specialist, MD Professional Corporation

Dr. Ujwala Rajgopal is a board-certified General Surgeon who has practiced for over 20 years,in
California. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery and a Fellow of the American
College of Surgeons. Dr. Rajgopal has provided surgical care for breast cancer and has clinical
research experience. With her many years in practice, Dr. Rajgopal has achieved several awards
with peer recognition and professional achievement. She received her medical degree from the University of Bombay in India and completed her residency and internship at Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, California, affiliated to University of California, San Diego. Dr. Rajgopal has also done cancer research at Stanford Hospital and Clinics, and at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Dr. Rajgopal has served as the California State Chair for the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and as the Board Chair of the California Division of the American Cancer Society. Dr. Rajgopal is very dedicated towards oncology research.

Term: 9/1/2019-8/31/2023

yAMINI rANCHOD, PhD, ms

Advocate, BCAction 

Yamini Ranchod is an epidemiologist with a decade of experience in both public health research and breast cancer advocacy. She completed her graduate training at the Harvard School of Public Health and The University of Michigan, and her post-doctoral training in epidemiology at UC Berkeley. Her research has included work in cancer, social determinants of health such neighborhood exposures, early childhood adversity, and women’s health. She is currently a medical reviewer for Healthline Media in the oncology space.

Yamini was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31, and she has served on the Board of Directors of Bay Area Young Survivors (BAYS), a regional support group for people diagnosed with breast cancer under age 45. She also served on the Board of Directors of Breast Cancer Action (BCAction), where she was committed to advocating for the systemic changes needed to address the breast cancer epidemic. Both at BAYS and BCAction, Yamini was energized by engaging and uplifting the diverse range of voices and communities impacted by breast cancer. Yamini also serves as a reviewer for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program.

Term: 9/1/2021-8/31/2024

Angelique Richardson, MD, PhD

Scientist/Clinician, UCSD 

Angelique Richardson is a dedicated Physician Scientist and Breast Medical Oncologist in the department of Medicine at the University of California in San Diego (UCSD).  She specializes in the use of systemic therapies for the treatment of patients diagnosed with breast cancer.  A graduate of Loma Linda School of Medicine where she received a MD/PhD with the doctoral studies focus being cancer signaling/biology and breast cancer disparities.  She completed Hematology/Oncology fellowship at Penn State in Hershey, Pa.  After fellowship, she was selected for a highly coveted Clinical Breast post fellowship year under the mentorship of Dr. Marc Lippman at the University of Miami.  Since joining the faculty at UCSD, she has developed a solid track record for mentorship, community outreach and research.   She has closely mentored many trainees of all levels from Undergraduates to Hematology/Oncology Fellows.  She is very involved in community outreach and engagement activities and currently serves on the UCSD Community Outreach and Engagement steering committee.  She works alongside several community-based breast cancer patient advocacy groups serving on the Susan G Komen Foundation leadership council representing San Diego, and as a consultant for Tiger Lilly and Many Shades of Pink.  Dr. Richardson is also very engaged in clinical breast cancer research.  Her research interests include addressing breast cancer health disparities in black women, serving as Principal Investigator and enrolling patients on therapeutic cancer trials, and elucidating better therapies for women diagnosed with breast cancer.  In addition, she has an ongoing research collaboration at Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Ca.  This research collaboration has led to the identification of unique biomarkers useful for predicting breast cancer therapy resistance, and will aid in elucidating new and improved approaches to treating these more aggressive breast cancers. 

Term: 9/1/2021-8/31/2024

MELANIE SMITT, MD

Private Industry, Seattle Genetics

Melanie Smitt is currently a Group Medical Director and Global Development Leader at Genentech. A graduate of Yale University and Stanford Medical School, she underwent residency training in Radiation Oncology at Stanford. Subsequently she was on the faculty at Stanford as an Associate Professor with clinical practice in both academic and community hospital settings for over 15 years. Her primary academic clinical research focused on optimizing breast conservation outcomes. In an industry setting for the last 10 years, she has been involved in multiple Phase 2 and 3 trials, most recently of a HER2-targeted antibody-drug conjugate, trastuzumab emtansine, in both the metastatic and early breast cancer settings.

Term: 9/1/2019-8/31/2023

Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D.

Non-Profit, Environmental Working Group

Tasha Stoiber is a Senior Scientist in the San Francisco office of the Environmental Working Group, an environmental health advocacy and research organization known for its work on cosmetic safety, children’s health, and environmental policies focused on protecting the most vulnerable populations. As a researcher and policy advocate, she translates complex scientific studies into practical advice to inform and empower citizens to make healthier choices in their daily lives and promote a social and governmental framework that puts human health ahead of company profits. Her work is focused on investigating environmental causes of cancer, including chemical exposures in the home. Tasha has conducted home-intervention studies focused on reducing harmful endocrine disruptors and carcinogenic flame retardants, prepared consumer guides with tips on avoiding hazardous chemicals in building materials and home products and developed a cumulative cancer risk scoring system for contaminants in California tap water. She is excited to join the Council to assist with the creation of an effective breast cancer prevention and research program.

Tasha holds dual bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences and environmental engineering from Michigan Technological University. She worked as an environmental engineer for three years before returning to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned a Ph.D. in environmental chemistry & technology. Following graduation, Tasha moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for a post-doctoral position at the University of California-Davis and the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California studying the environmental impact of nanotechnology.

Term: 9/1/2018-8/31/2022