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The 2024-2025 FasterCures LeadersLink Cohort

The 2024-2025 LeadersLink Cohort

The 2024–2025 FasterCures’ LeadersLink program cohort has been carefully selected from a highly competitive pool of candidates. We chose nine exceptional individuals to participate in this year’s program. Through a capstone project, mentorship, in-person meetings, and virtual collaboration, participants will improve their organization’s ability to engage diverse patients across the biomedical research and development spectrum, which is this year’s theme. Paired with mentors from FasterCures Changemakers and other leaders in our network, participants gain access to FasterCures’ and Milken Institute’s extensive network of experts for guidance and support as they navigate their leadership journeys. FasterCures and the Milken Institute express gratitude for the dedication of mentors and experts and eagerly anticipate the achievements of the LeadersLink participants.

Below are the nine candidates we are excited to welcome into the program:

2024–2025 LeadersLink Participants

Silvia Cerolini, Founder and CEO, Eyes on the Future
Deena Chisholm, Executive Research Engagement Director, TANGO2 Research Foundation
Kristen Dahlgren, Co-Founder, Pink Eraser Project
Anjee Davis, President, Fight CRC
Michael Graglia, Founder and Managing Director, SynGAP Research Fund
Ana Rita Moreira, Founder and President, v-ATPase Alliance
Andrew Rosen, Chief Executive Officer, National Ataxia Foundation
Michelle Stewart, CEO, PanKind, The Australian Pancreatic Cancer Foundation
Emily Ventura, Executive Director, PFIC Network, Inc.

Silvia Cerolini

Silvia Cerolini is the founder and CEO of Eyes on the Future, a UK-based not-for-profit organization accelerating research on Inherited Retinal Dystrophies (IRD) causing progressive sight loss in children. Cerolini’s 10-year-old daughter, Vicky, has been diagnosed with an untreatable form of IRD driven by gene RDH12 and is, unfortunately, slowly going blind. Since the diagnosis, Cerolini has been actively advocating and fundraising to support research into RDH12 IRD. She coordinates the global patient organization with families from over 20 countries that have raised about $5 million so far. Her work led to multiple scientific publications and, most importantly, to concrete advancement across several therapeutic approaches, from drug repurposing to gene therapy. 

Her current focus is to drive novel and collaborative profit/nonprofit partnerships to advance rare disease gene therapy programs. Passionate about innovation and technology, she is also looking at how data and AI can accelerate clinical development, especially in outcome measures and trial design for rare eye diseases.

Deena Chisholm

Deena Chisholm is the executive director of research engagement at the TANGO2 Research Foundation, where she plays a pivotal role in developing and implementing the foundation’s strategic plans for research and grant activities, ensuring alignment with the foundation's objectives. She also builds and maintains relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, such as researchers, clinicians, patient families, and the broader research community. Chisholm oversees the continuous evaluation and refinement of the foundation’s research operations, ensuring that the foundation consistently operates at the forefront of the field. Prior to joining the TANGO2 Research Foundation, Chisholm spent over a decade with large, complex health-care systems and nonprofit organizations developing and leading research, public health, and education initiatives. She is experienced in developing and implementing community health education, tools, programs, and interventions that promote engagement and optimal health and wellness. 

Chisholm is skilled in grant, program, and project management, multivariate statistical analysis, qualitative research methods, and Community-Based Participatory Research. She holds a Master of Public Health from West Chester University. Additionally, she was inducted into the Beta Xi Chapter of the Delta Omega Honorary Society of Public Health and became certified as a health education specialist by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. In her free time, she enjoys taking fitness classes like cardio-kickboxing and spin, exploring new restaurants, traveling, and reading.

Kristen Dahlgren

Kristen Dahlgren is an award-winning journalist turned breast cancer advocate. For the first 30 years of her career, Dahlgren traveled the world, documenting some of the biggest news stories of our time. She reported for NBC Nightly News and NBC's Today show, was nominated for an Emmy award for leading the network's coverage of the Parkland School shooting, served as a backup anchor for Lester Holt, and won an Edward R. Murrow award for her feature reporting. In 2019, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and immediately decided to share her story to help other women recognize the different ways their own cancers could present. Her reporting on BIA-ALCL and the link to textured implants helped reframe the conversation patients were having with their doctors.

Then, through her reporting on additional screening for women with dense breasts, she met Ohio lawyer and advocate Michele Young and learned about the research that was happening on breast cancer vaccines. After a conversation with UW Cancer Vaccine Institute's Nora Disis, MD, Dahlgren realized that vaccines for breast cancer were no longer a "pie in the sky" idea but something that was close and achievable. She and Young teamed up to create Pink Eraser Project (PEP) with the nation’s top vaccine and cancer researchers with a goal of getting safe, effective breast cancer vaccines to market in 5 to 10 years or less. PEP works to fund trials, streamline the process, remove barriers to success, and ensure all breast cancer patients are represented in trials.

Anjee Davis

Anjee Davis has been a leader in the fight against colorectal cancer since her involvement began in 2009. Her work started to gain momentum when she joined Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC) in 2011 as the director of community engagement and then became president in 2015. During her leadership, Fight CRC expanded significantly, growing over 30 percent annually between 2011 and 2019. The organization focuses on curing colorectal cancer and provides support to those affected by the disease through advocacy, policy changes, and research. Fight CRC contributed to a key policy change in 2021, where the recommended age for colorectal cancer screening was lowered, leading to legislative changes in several states.

Beyond advocacy, she has successfully brought together researchers, advocacy groups, and business leaders to advance the cause, aligning with initiatives like the Cancer Moonshot Program to improve screening access and accelerate research. Davis serves on several national advisory boards, including the National Cancer Institute’s Clinical Trials and Translational Research Advisory Committee and the Gastrointestinal Cancer Steering Committee, reflecting her influence on cancer research and policy. In 2020, she was appointed to the President’s Cancer Panel, advising improving colorectal cancer screening and access to equitable care. Her team at Fight CRC authored the Path to a Cure report outlining strategic directions for treatment and research in colorectal cancer.

Mike Graglia

Michael Graglia founded SynGap Research Fund in 2018 when his son was diagnosed with SYNGAP1-Related Disorder and continues to serve as the CEO, pro bono. Graglia is involved in the rare neurological disease community by serving on the AES Epilepsy Research Benchmarks Stewards and executive board of COMBINEDbrain and is a member of the LeadersLink program by FasterCures of the Milken Institute. 

Graglia comes from a career in public policy, international development, and strategy. Previous roles have included establishing a new program at the New America think tank, budget and planning at the Gates Foundation and Emerson Collective, health-care consulting at BCG, serving as a project officer at the World Bank Group, managing a refugee program for the International Catholic Migration Commission in Zimbabwe, and teaching math with the Peace Corps in Namibia. Graglia has an MBA from Columbia, a Bronfman Fellow, an MA from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow, and a BS in mathematics from Gonzaga University, SJ. Graglia lives with his wife Ashley and two sons in Marin, California.

Ana Rita

Ana Rita Moreira is the founder and president of v-ATPase Alliance, the first foundation dedicated to identifying and uniting families affected by v-ATPase disorders, advancing scientific research, and raising awareness. Moreira faced the challenge of her firstborn being diagnosed with this ultra-rare genetic disease, prompting her to utilize her expertise in economics, branding, communication, and her entrepreneurial spirit to make a difference. Despite being told there was no answer or treatment for her son, Moreira began a mission to bring affected families together and learn from them, also questioning experts, doctors, and researchers and surrounding herself with a team eager for change, committed to pushing boundaries and reshaping the future. v-ATPase Alliance was founded in November 2023 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. As its first big milestone, it launched in March the first patient registry to collect information to increase access to research-ready data needed to accelerate the discovery of groundbreaking treatments and build a strong foundation for a natural history study for v-ATPase-related conditions and a path to a cure.

Andrew Rosen

Andrew Rosen is the chief executive officer of the National Ataxia Foundation, whose mission is to accelerate the development of treatments and a cure while working to improve the lives of those living with ataxia. He leads this growing rare disease nonprofit and its strategic focus, including partnering with pharmaceutical companies working on ataxia. Rosen was previously president of Angel Foundation, a Twin Cities-based agency providing emergency financial assistance, education, and support for local adults with cancer and their families. He has also served as president of HousingLink, an innovative web-based nonprofit that provides affordable housing information for the state of Minnesota. His for-profit career includes marketing leadership positions with Boston Scientific, business development roles in the first internet boom in San Francisco, and health-care consulting with Deloitte.

He holds an MBA in marketing from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in international studies from the University of Pennsylvania. His undergraduate degree is from Tufts University in Boston.

Michelle Stewart

Michelle Stewart assumed the role of CEO at PanKind, the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, in August 2020. With extensive experience in medical research funding, foreign investment attraction, digital health, and international clinical trials, she has been a driving force behind numerous global transformative initiatives. Among her notable achievements, Stewart led the Australian arm of an initiative to establish a global digital patient community aimed at expediting clinical research across all diseases. Additionally, she has played integral roles in international collaborative endeavors focused on accelerating research for rare cancers.

Dedicated to fostering enduring alignment around shared objectives to address systemic health issues at their core, Stewart played a pivotal part in reshaping Australia's brain cancer research funding landscape. Beginning as head of research strategy at the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, she oversaw research allocations, before advancing to the CEO role, where her team successfully secured a $100 million fund for brain cancer through strategic partnerships. Stewart's professional trajectory spans diverse sectors, including banking, telecommunications, clinical research, and government spheres. She holds a Bachelor of Advanced Science (biochemistry and psychology) and a Master of Public Health, both earned from the University of Sydney.

Emily Ventura

Emily Ventura is the co-founder and executive director of Progressive Familial Intrahepatic Cholestasis Advocacy and Resource Network (PFIC Network). Established in 2018, PFIC Network’s mission is to improve the lives of patients and families worldwide affected by PFIC, a rare liver disease. As the mother of a PFIC patient, she is deeply connected to this work. Prior to founding PFIC Network, Ventura had a long career as an ICU nurse, giving her unique insight into the clinical and personal sides of the rare patient experience.