Thanks to our most ardent supporters and donors, HERA Ovarian Cancer Foundation is committed to awarding “outside the box” or OSB Grants annually in partnership with John Hopkins University.  These grants are awarded to scientists with “outside the box” ideas regarding the research of new directions in the basic research, treatment, early detection, and prevention of ovarian cancer.

We are Proud to Support our 2020 Grant Recipients!

The Denise Zackman Research Grant

Awarded To: Sukh Makhnoon, Ph.D., MS
Dr. Sukh Makhnoon is a postdoctoral fellow in the Cancer Prevention Research Training Program at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Makhnoon received an award from HERA that focuses on genetic testing of ovarian cancer. This project aims to alleviate disparities involving uncertain genetic results in diverse patient populations at multiple hospitals and health systems across the US. Uncertain genetic results are detected at disproportionately higher rates in tests performed in ethnic minorities. Dr. Makhnoon’s goal is to improve communications between health care providers (gynecologic oncologists and genetic counselors) and patients of ethnic minorities to reduce these disparities. Her findings will contribute to much-needed practice guidelines around these issues.

In Memory of Denise Zackman

Denise Zackman was a pure gift from God. There isn’t a day that goes by we don’t think of Denise and miss her. Denise’s dream is that one day there will be a cure. Denise was not defined by her cancer, in fact, most did not want to talk about it, Denise LIVED her dash. She was a tower of strength and seized every moment she had. No matter what was going on in her life, how much pain she was in, she never let it show and was always there with a kind word or open arms. Always thinking of others.  

Her bright, beautiful smile never showed the battle she was fighting. Denise loved her family deeply; more than anything, her family was everything to her. She was the best Mom.  She does live on in their hearts and in ours too.  She was the ultimate warrior.  Any time you feel down or feel like you can’t push forward you can think of her and then tell yourself there are no excuses or reasons not to press onward. Even though she is not physically here she will never leave the hearts of the people she touched.  She loved turtles which are a symbol of endurance, determination, and longevity.

Team Queen Bees is proud to support HERA and Honored to have Denise chosen.  

Team Queen Bees, Virginia Beach, VA — Follow the Queen Bees on Facebook

The Susan von Salis Research Grant

Awarded To: WonJae Lee, Ph.D.
The ultimate goal of Dr. WonJae Lee’s postdoctoral fellowship at the MD Anderson Cancer Center is to discover more effective therapies for ovarian cancer. Dr. Lee’s research focuses on identifying why this deadly cancer preferentially spreads to the omentum, a fat tissue connected to the stomach. Dr. Lee and colleagues have recently seen that inflammatory cells that act as first responders to infection and cancer, mobilize into the omentum prior to metastasis. In this study, he will evaluate whether known anti-inflammatory drugs could be repurposed for stopping metastasis to the omentum. Dr. Lee’s study could potentially accelerate the development of new ovarian cancer therapies in a timely and cost‐effective manner.

In Memory of Susan von Salis

Susan von Salis’ life mattered to many people. She was a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, co-worker, family archivist, philanthropist, travel companion, joke teller, deep thinker, and much much more. Her passions were a large part of her life, but her ability to find connections with all sorts of people made her who she was. Susan was always looking for new possible treatments for the disease, and being recognized with a grant that may lead to better outcomes honors her perfectly.

For those of us who lost a friend or family member in Susan, the HERA Foundation has given us a way to continue to fight for her. Her life inspired us to donate money, time, and services. Year after year. Until there comes a day when we no longer need to, we will support HERA’s mission to fight ovarian cancer so we don’t lose any more Susans.


Ovarian Cancer Research Needs to Become a Priority if We are to Make Progress

Patsy Hinson PhotoThe mission of the HERA Ovarian Cancer Foundation is to eliminate ovarian cancer.  We do this by funding cutting edge research to find new directions in ovarian cancer treatment, prevention, and early detection.
Currently no effective test exists to reliably diagnose the disease early when the chance for survival is greatest. Current treatment protocols have not appreciably altered mortality from this disease. Incidence rates have decreased only slightly, and much more work needs to be done.  Our priority is to understand this disease so that a test for early detection and more effective treatments can be developed.
Because there are fewer numbers of well survivors to raise awareness for ovarian cancer, research has been grossly under funded. Progress is stalled due to lack of adequate research dollars. HERA is working to change this by awarding grants, participating at National Cancer Institute forums, and staying on the national advocacy front.
The HERA Ovarian Cancer Foundation also awards the Sean Patrick Multidisciplinary Collaborative Grant for cross-disciplinary projects that are collaborative in nature.  In 2015 we also collaborated with Stand Up To Cancer’s efforts to fight ovarian cancer.
In just over a decade, prostate cancer has seen 5 year survival rates climb to 99% (SEER).* Ovarian cancer has seen very little appreciable gains in the same time frame. Five year survival continues to hover around only 50% (SEER).*
These numbers do not tell the whole story either as most women are in continual treatment for the years they are alive unlike other cancers that produce longer disease free periods, so quality of life for many living with ovarian cancer is poor.
Your support is critical to finding solutions to this disease. HERA invests over $100,000 annually in research and much more in awareness programs to stop eliminate ovarian cancer.

* SEER Cancer Statistics Review 1975-2002, National Cancer Institute
** American Cancer Society