About Us

OUR MISSION

Our mission is to educate individuals about the KRAS-variant, in order to prevent disease by expanding access to, and fostering understanding of our unique class of genetic biomarkers.

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OUR STORY

MiraKind is a nonprofit organization founded by Joanne Weidhaas, MD, PhD, in 2013, in order to find answers for patients who have the KRAS-variant and to advance the understanding of other variants like it.

Dr. Weidhaas co-discovered the KRAS-variant in 2006, and first identified the KRAS-variant as an inherited genetic variant associated with an increased risk of lung cancer 1. Soon after, she led studies finding that the KRAS-variant was also associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer, and triple negative breast cancer 2,3.

As a cancer doctor, Dr. Weidhaas believed that with the knowledge of increased genetic risk, came the responsibility of figuring out how best to help people with these types of genetic risk variants. Dr. Weidhaas understood that the KRAS-variant was a new type of variant, and knew that working with the patients to help find strategies to mitigate their cancer risk was the best way to do this.

In 2012, Dr. Joanne Weidhaas led a study called “Hormones, the KRAS-variant and Breast Cancer Risk”, which evaluated the role estrogen plays in cancer risk for people with the KRAS-variant 7. The findings of this study led to the discovery that estrogen played a protective role against developing breast cancer in women with the KRAS-variant, and showed how truly unique variants like the KRAS-variant are. Dr. Weidhaas believes that these findings would not have come about if it wasn’t for the generous participation of the women in the 2012 study.

Dr. Weidhaas founded MiraKind in order to continue working with the patient community to search for answers and solutions for people with the KRAS-variant and other genetic variants like it.

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OUR FOUNDER

Joanne Weidhaas, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Weidhaas is an oncologist and scientist who is passionate about improving patients' lives through research. In 2006, Dr. Weidhaas, MD, PhD, physician-scientist and at the time the head of the breast radiation oncology service at Yale University, co-discovered the KRAS-variant, a new type of genetic marker with broad implications in cancer and human health 1. The KRAS-variant itself has significant implications for women’s health 7.

Despite her discovery’s significance, Dr. Weidhaas recognized the need to educate people directly about the KRAS-variant, and other variants like it, which led her to found MiraKind. She continues her work as head of translational research and vice-chair of radiation oncology at UCLA. Her goal is to continue to provide meaningful discoveries that reach both patients and their doctors.

Joanne Weidhaas, M.D., Ph.D., founder of MiraKind
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OUR TEAM

Tina Kelly

Tina Kelly

Patient Advisor & Lead Ambassador

Tina is a patient advisor to MiraKind and an advocate for women with the KRAS-variant. As a breast cancer survivor, she is passionate about empowering women to protect their health.

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Sara Rosenthal

ADVISOR, WOMEN'S HEALTH

Sara began her career in the fields of health policy research and healthcare management consulting, with a specific interest in women’s health. After earning her master’s degree in business administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Sara gained deep finance experience working for an urban infill developer, where she helped secure over $75 million in acquisition capital to purchase multifamily buildings. Sara then went on to serve as principal of a Bay Area design build firm focused on green building projects, working alongside the CEO and founder.

Sara transitioned from real estate to work at the Stanford Graduate School of business in the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, where she developed graduate level entrepreneurship curriculum in partnership with entrepreneurs and faculty. Sara currently works as a Principal at TTCER Partners, an investment firm that serves as a platform to help entrepreneurs build and grow enduring companies. Sara brought her skills and passion for women’s health to MiraKind in early 2014, where she currently advises the founder on women’s health programming.

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Michelle Dookwah, Ph.D.

SOCIAL MEDIA & SCIENCE WRITER

Michelle is a Ph.D.-trained scientist with a passion for sharing science, especially when it comes to making health and medicine more accessible to people. Michelle actually studied the KRAS-variant as an undergraduate student in Joanne’s lab back in 2012, and was delighted to join MiraKind part-time in 2018 while in graduate school. After finishing up her Ph.D., Michelle joined MiraDx and MiraKind full-time as a Science Communication Specialist. She’s ecstatic to be able to share this life-changing research with women to help them stay educated and informed about their health!

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Rachel Vane

WEBSITE & DESIGN

Rachel has been helping small businesses and non-profits with website design and WordPress development for more than 11 years. She's been working with MiraKind as a website designer, website developer and graphic designer for 8 years. She loves MiraKind because she is passionate about people, especially women, having the information they need to make the best healthcare choices for themselves.

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Lisa Whitmyer

ADVISOR, WOMEN’S HEALTH

Lisa Whitmyer has over 20 year’s experience as a sales and marketing leader, successfully launching products in the areas of diagnostics and medical/surgical devices for start-up and Fortune 500 companies. She is a breast cancer survivor and advocate for women being active participants in their healthcare decision. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University. She advises the MiraKind founder on sales and marketing to both physicians and patients.

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Hans Galland

TREASURER

Hans is an investment professional with ten years experience in transaction, asset management and corporate finance advice. His past work focused on profitability enhancement, repositioning/turnaround and product development. He was last Senior Vice President and head of the Beijing practice for the global hotel investment services firm Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels.

Hans holds a MS degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a BSc in Business Economics and International Hospitality Management from EHL at the University of Applied Science of Western Switzerland. He speaks fluent German, French and Mandarin Chinese.

As the son of a doctor and with three cancer victims in his immediate family, Hans is strongly committed to making a contribution to the field of cancer diagnostics.

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