Chief Executive Officer
John joins FPWR having served as CEO for the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy a research foundation that exclusively supports research in genetic, cell and immunotherapeutic approaches to improve outcomes for all cancers. Prior, John served as President and CEO of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a $300 million international health agency. He drove LLS’s long-range strategic plan with a focus on broadening its base of support and diversifying its revenue sources. John augmented the society’s research portfolio to include venture philanthropy with direct investments into bio-tech companies. John joined LLS in 1995 as Senior Vice President of Finance and Information Technology. Later, as Executive Vice President of Strategic Alliances, he designed and implemented LLS’s Co-Pay Assistance Program, which has provided more than $200 million to patients since inception. He also oversaw the international merger that created LLS Canada. He was appointed CEO in Feb 2008. John has spoken at congressional events in Washington, and to the international business community.
Susan Hedstrom is the Executive Director for the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research. Passionate about finding treatments for PWS, Susan joined FPWR in 2009 shortly after her son, Jayden, was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome. Rather than accepting PWS as it has been defined, Susan has chosen to work with a team of pro-active and tireless individuals to accelerate PWS research in order to change the future of PWS. Inspired by her first FPWR conference and the team of researchers that were working to find answers for the syndrome, she joined the FPWR team in 2010 and led the development of the One SMALL Step walk program. Under Susan’s leadership, over $15 million has been raised for PWS related research.
Theresa V. Strong, Ph.D.
Director of Research Programs
Theresa V. Strong, Ph.D., received a B.S. from Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in Medical Genetics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She performed postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan in the laboratory of Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., studying the molecular basis of cystic fibrosis and Huntington disease. After her postdoc, she returned to the faculty at UAB, where her laboratory focused on developing gene therapy approaches for cancer. She became the Director of UAB’s Vector Production Facility and a Professor in the Department of Medicine. Theresa is one of the founding members of FPWR and has directed FPWR’s grant program since its inception. In October of 2016, she transitioned to a full time position as Director of Research Programs at FPWR. She remains an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Genetics at UAB. She and her husband Jim have four children, including a son with PWS.
Nathalie Kayadjanian, Ph.D.
Director of Translational Research
Nathalie Kayadjanian, Ph.D is an expert in translational biomedical research. A neuroscientist by training, she has extensive R&D experience in academia, biotech, and the pharmaceutical industry in Europe and the USA. Nathalie has occupied top management positions in patient-driven non-profit organizations, developing and implementing strategies to accelerate the development of innovative therapies for rare diseases.
Jessica Bohonowych, Ph.D.
Associate Director of Research Programs
Jessica Bohonowych is a graduate of Duke University, and holds a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of California, Davis. Incorporating her research background, knowledge of pharmacology and drug development, and teaching experience, Jessica works with Theresa Strong in managing FPWR’s grant portfolio, communicating research results and breakthroughs to our community, aiding in special projects such as the Clinical Trials Initiative and Molecular Resource Center, and is heading the development of the Global PWS Registry.
Priya Balasubramanian, Ph.D.
Associate Director Translational Research Programs
Priya Balasubramanian Ph.D., graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a doctoral degree in Molecular Biology. She has many years of experience working on clinical studies in another rare disease: Laron Syndrome or Growth Hormone Receptor Deficiency (GHRD), a very rare growth disorder. Priya has worked with leading experts in the growth hormone/IGF-1 field and made significant contributions to understanding the fundamental role of this pathway in human aging and disease. In addition, her work in the laboratory of Dr. Valter Longo at USC was focused on translation of promising basic science into clinically relevant applications through dietary and pharmacotherapeutic approaches.
As the Associate Director of Translational Research, Priya is dedicated to working with the FPWR team to quickly advance our clinical care and pharmacotherapy strategic programs so that new therapies can soon be made available to our PWS families.
Director of National Events
Jacqueline joined FPWR in January 2016 and has over 8 years of fundraising and event management experience. Jacqueline is a graduate of California State University, Northridge with a B.A. in Communication Studies. As the Director of National Events, she oversees the expansion and successful execution of major events in support of the organization’s fundraising goals.
Donor Relations Manager
Melissa became involved with FPWR in 2014 after her son, Kemett, was diagnosed with PWS. That year she hosted her first One SMALL Step Walk which raised over $115,000 and earned herself the honor of hosting the FPWR conference in Austin, TX in 2015. Melissa has over 9 years of fundraising and development experience and a Masters in Social Work from The University of Texas with an emphasis on Community and Administrative Leadership. Melissa will be assisting with database management and administrative duties.
Director of One SMALL Step
Sarah Peden became involved with FPWR shortly after the diagnosis of her daughter, Lily in late 2009. Sarah first began fundraising through her “Running for Lillian” event where she and her friends raised funds for PWS research through peer-to-peer fundraising. Sarah joined the One SMALL Step team in 2012 holding her first of many walks in Bloomington, Indiana. Sarah has held multiple volunteer roles with our organization prior to joining our staff and was the chair of our Community Leadership committee from 2014-2015.
Sarah has more than 11 years of Event Planning experience with for-profit and non-profit organizations and hold a Bachelor of Science in Recreation with an emphasis in tourism, hospitality and event management from Indiana University.