STAR Board:

Monica Bhatia, MD, Chairwoman

Monica directs Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center’s pediatric stem cell transplant program as part of her specialty caring for children with noncancerous blood disorders who may benefit from bone marrow transplantation, especially sickle cell anemia. She works to reduce the side effects and complications of this treatment without compromising its effectiveness, and to make it available to more patients. In addition to her leadership in launching STAR, she is a member of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation and sit on the Non-Malignant Working Group Committee. She attended Boston University as an undergraduate and attended St. George's University School of Medicine in Grenada. Monica completed her residency at Albany Medical Center Hospital, NY and was a Fellow at Children’s National Medical Center.

Greg Guilcher, MD, Vice Chair

Greg Guilcher is Associate Professor of Oncology and Pediatrics at the University of Calgary/Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary, Canada.  His practice includes pediatric blood and marrow transplantation as well as general pediatric oncology.  Greg leads the local sickle cell BMT program and works closely with the two comprehensive hemoglobinopathy clinics in the province of Alberta.  He also co-leads the BMT Long Term Survivor Clinic at Alberta Children's Hospital, and currently chairs the BMT Late Effects Taskforce for the Children's Oncology Group.

Research interests include acute and late toxicities of BMT, as well as the study of novel low-toxicity approaches to transplant for pediatric non-malignant diseases.  Greg is interested in studying family BMT decision-making , neuropsychological outcomes and health economics questions as related to BMT for sickle cell disease.  He also has an interest in pediatric BMT donor safety.  A career goal is to expand access to BMT for sickle cell disease to low and middle income countries.

Greg obtained his BSc with a major in biochemistry from Queen's University at Kingston, followed by a medical degree and subsequent pediatric residency training at Memorial University of Newfoundland.  His subspecialty training in pediatric hematatology/oncology/BMT was completed at the University of British Columbia with a focus in BMT and hematopathology.

Robert Sheppard Nickel, MD, MSc.  Secretary

Robert (Shep) is a pediatric hematologist who lives in Washington, DC.  He received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, a medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and a master of science degree in clinical research from Emory University.  He is board certified in general pediatrics, pediatric hematology/oncology, and transfusion medicine.  Currently at Children's National Health System, he has the privilege of helping care for hundreds of children and adolescents living with sickle cell disease.

Esther Agbaje, MPA, JD

Esther is excited to be a part of the STAR Alliance and work towards more research for a real cure for sickle cell disease. As a patient advocate she started a patient focused support group with the Sickle Cell Association of the National Capital Area in Washington, DC. She is currently a 2L at Harvard Law School. She is interested in public interest law focused on infrastructure, energy, housing, and civil rights. She is active in Harvard’s Black Law Student Association, HLS Democrats, and the Harvard African Law Association. She also is a member of the Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Journal and the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. Before coming to law school, she managed rule of law projects for the U.S. Department of State in the Middle East with a country focus on Egypt. Esther has a Bachelor’s degree from the George Washington University and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.

Ruth Dinerman, MFA, Executive Director

Ruth has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than two decades. She has worked to protect land and rivers, expand local agriculture, protect against climate change, and promote renewable energy. She has raised money for Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Community Health Programs, Flying Cloud Institute, Great Barrington River Walk, and Greenagers. She has a Bachelor Degree from Oberlin College and a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. She has published poetry and short stories in several magazines and journals.

Lula Mae Phillips, D. Min.

Lula Mae is the Community Engagement and Research Manager for the Weill Cornell Clinical and Translational Science Center in New York City. Her education, training and rich experiences as a pastor, educator and a nurse afford her a unique perspective on illness, healthcare and medical research. Her capacity to speak to the spiritual aspects of sickness and healthcare, what it is to suffer and to be vulnerable, is one of Dr. Phillips’ greatest assets. She received her Doctorate in Ministry and Master’s degree in Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary and her Master’s in Education from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College.

Allen Stenger, J.D.

Allen is a Principal with Ernst & Young LLP in its International Tax Services practice.  He has advised a number of non-profit organizations with respect to obtaining and maintaining IRS recognition of the organizations' tax-exempt status.  Allen is passionate to assist STAR in identifying a cure to sickle cell disease that has fewer side effects and does not depend on the existence of a related donor.  Allen's role with STAR also allows him to work with his sister, a pediatric hematology-oncologist in Atlanta.   Allen obtained a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a LL.M. (Taxation) from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Michael L. Matthews

Hailing from Pittsburg, PA, Michael L. Matthews is Executive Director for the Children’s Sickle Cell Foundation, Inc. His passion for those suffering with sickle cell disease (SCD) is fueled by a deep hope that there will be a universal cure for SCD and until there is, the need remains to support efforts that result in safer, more widely available therapies and drugs for treatment. Under his executive leadership, Children’s Sickle Cell Foundation assists those with sickle cell disease and their families and help them face the educational, social, and economic challenges caused by the disease using a collaborative approach and commitment to community awareness, education, and advocacy. Michael is also a Research Assistant at the University of Pittsburgh working with the Hematology/Oncology Departments of Children’s Hospital of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Adult Sickle Cell Program. There his expertise helps both the pediatric and adult populations.

Michael spent his undergraduate years at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he studied Marketing and Communications. Previously, he has been Program Director for The Great Start Program, worked with adjudicated youth at The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and been Associate Director for YouthPlaces—providing teens with a safe afterschool environment. Michael enjoys golf, officiating basketball, and spending time with his family.

Latres M. Bell, MPH

Latres is excited and passionate about Sickle Cell and its research for a real cure. Latres has served in executive leadership positions at various health care facilities with the indigent population. She has worked in the lab as a bench scientist in Infectious Diseases at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is a mother of twin boys, one of which was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and has celebrated his cure through Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) via his twin brother donating his marrow. She continues to speak with parents at the Children's Hospital of Atlanta (CHOA) as they prepare for BMT. Latres has a Bachelors of Science Degree in Biology & Chemistry from Howard University and a Masters of Public Health from Arizona School of Health Sciences.

Latres is heavily involved in the community through her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. Latres is passionate about your getting youth involved in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and its advancement for scientific/medical research. In her spare time, she loves traveling with her husband and sons.

Peter B. Malamis

For more than two decades, Peter Malamis has strategically guided the growth and development of service firms supporting biopharma clinical research and commercialization. Before founding CRO Analytics, as Vice President and General Manager at the MAPI Group, he helped lead the acquisition and integration of Registrat, Inc. in a transaction that created the largest global CRO exclusively devoted to post-marketing research.

Previous to MAPI, as President of US Operations for the CRO Premier Research, Mr. Malamis led that group to the highest growth rates and profitability it had ever achieved. Prior to Premier, he held executive positions at SCIREX (US-focused CRO acquired by Premier), Galt Associates (drug safety and software services), MEDTAP International (health economics and outcomes), PAREXEL International (global CRO), State & Federal Associates (market access services).

Mr. Malamis obtained his B.A. in Political Science at the University of Richmond and his M.B.A. in Marketing from George Washington University. He has served as a Board member and advisor to several early-stage biopharma services companies and is a regular lecturer at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business MBA in Pharmaceutical Management program as well as at industry conferences.