The 2017-2018 Leadership Development Program has 16 participants from various practice settings, subspecialties, and geographic locations.

Participant Biographies

Jeanny B. Aragon-ChingJeanny B. Aragon-Ching, MD, FACP
Discipline/Focus: Community-Medical Oncology/GU

Jeanny B. Aragon-Ching, MD, FACP serves as the Clinical Program Director at Inova Schar Cancer Institute and holds academic appointment as an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. Dr. Aragon-Ching completed internal medicine residency at Albert Einstein Medical Center where she served the final year as Chief Resident, completed Fellowship training at the National Cancer Institute where she served as Associate Investigator for varying clinical trials and served as Faculty as Associate Professor of Medicine at the George Washington University prior to joining Inova in late 2015.

Dr. Aragon-Ching is an established researcher, educator, and clinician, with numerous publications and Editorial Board commitments. Her goal is to foster community and academic partnership as a new form of delivering health care. Dr. Aragon-Ching serves on the planning committee of the ASCO GU Cancers Symposium where she served as Track Chair for renal cell cancers and member of the prostate cancer track in 2017. She also serves as a member of the ASCO Cancer Education Committee.


Shaheenah DawoodShaheenah Dawood, MBBS, FACP, FRCP
Discipline/Focus: Medical Oncology/Breast Cancer and Lower GI Malignancies

Shaheenah Dawood, MBBS, FACP, FRCP is a Consultant Medical Oncologist in the United Arab Emirates. She trained in medical oncology at McGill University Hospitals in Canada and subspecialized in breast cancer management at MD Anderson Cancer Center. During her training she was awarded multiple scholar in training awards and ASCO merit awards. She has served as an editorial fellow at the New England Journal of medicine and has an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. She has over 100 publications to her credit including peer review original articles, review articles and book chapters. She serves as a reviewer for multiple journals including the Journal of Clinical Oncology as well as the Annals of Oncology and Cancer. She currently serves as President of the UAE Cancer Congress which is held annually in Dubai and is Co-President of the Asia Pacific Breast Cancer Summit (ABCS) and the Asia Pacific Gastroenterology Cancer Summit (APGCS).


Maximilian DiehnMaximilian Diehn, MD, PhD
Discipline/Focus: Radiation Oncology/Thoracic Oncology

Maximilian Diehn MD, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at Stanford University, with co-appointments in the Cancer Institute and Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard College and his M.D./Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is a physician scientist and specializes in thoracic oncology.

Dr. Diehn’s research program spans basic research, translational, and clinical studies. A main focus of his laboratory is analysis of circulating nucleic acids. At ASCO, he has served on the ASCO-CAP Liquid Biopsy Working Group and on the editorial board of JCO Precision Oncology. His research has been supported by grants from the NIH/NCI and Department of Defense. Dr. Diehn has been recognized with numerous awards, including the V Foundation Scholar Award, the Sidney Kimmel Scholar Award, the Doris Duke Clinical Scientist Development Award, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and election into the American Society of Clinical Investigation.


Ekokobe FonkemEkokobe Fonkem, DO
Discipline/Focus: Neurology and Oncology/Neuro-oncology

Ekokobe Fonkem, DO is currently the Director of the Baylor Scott and White Health System Brain Tumor Center in Central Texas and is an Associate Professor of Surgery at the Texas A & M University Health Science Center. He is involved in basic, translational and clinical research on both primary and metastatic brain cancers as well as its neurological complications. He received a BS degree in Biochemistry in 2002 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, followed by his medical degree in 2007 at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Athens, Ohio.

He completed Neurology residency training at the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio in 2011 followed by Neuro-Oncology fellowship at Harvard University Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Boston, MA in 2012. He has published extensively in the area of general neurology and neuro-oncology. He has also lectured extensively in various universities in the USA, Asia and Africa. He is also the CEO and founder of an NGO called “Healing Beyond our Horizon” which is dedicated in providing medical care, and clean drinking water in underprivileged communities in Cameroon, West Africa.


Rachel GrishamRachel Grisham, MD
Discipline/Focus: Medical Oncology/Gynecologic Malignancies

Rachel Grisham, MD, is an Assistant Attending within the Department of Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and an Instructor in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. She is board certified in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology. She completed her undergraduate education at Rutgers University where she graduated as the class. While obtaining her medical degree at Duke University School of Medicine, she spent a year as a Howard Hughes Medical Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Matthias Gromeier. Dr. Grisham performed her Internal Medicine internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. She then came to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where she served as the Chief Fellow of the Hematology and Oncology Fellowship Program. Dr. Grisham subsequently joined the Gynecologic Medical Oncology Service in 2012. Dr. Grisham’s research focuses on determining the molecular drivers of low-grade serous ovarian cancer and the development of targeted treatment strategies for patients with recurrent ovarian cancer. Dr. Grisham is the recipient of an ASCO Merit Award, a Conquer Cancer Career Development Award, an Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Liz Tilberis Award, a Kaleidoscope of Hope Grant, A Cycle for Survival Grant, and a Translational and Integrative Medicine Research Fund Grant.


Vinay GudenaVinay Gudena, MD, MPH
Discipline/Focus: Community-Medical Oncology/Breast Cancer

Vinay Gudena, MD, MPH, is a medical oncologist at Cone Health Cancer Center in Greensboro, NC. He received a Master of Public Health from University of Texas, Houston and completed his fellowship in Hematology and Oncology at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), in Charleston, South Carolina. His primary clinical and research focus is on breast cancer. He is the medical director of cancer research for Cone Health Cancer Center. He is also a board member of North Carolina Oncology Association. He was awarded Master Clinical faculty from Ohio University for excellence in teaching.


Shadia I. JalalShadia I. Jalal, MD
Discipline/Focus: Medical Oncology/Thoracic Oncology

Shadia I. Jalal, MD, is a thoracic oncologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine. She serves as the Director of the Thoracic Oncology Multidisciplinary Clinic at the Richard L Roudebush Medical Center. In addition, she is the Medical Director of the Clinical Trials Office at Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. She leads several clinical trials evaluating novel treatments for thoracic malignancies including esophageal cancer.

She is also the local principal investigator for a number of NCTN clinical trials. She has previously served on the ASCO scientific committee- lung cancer track and as a co-mentor for the ASCO International Development and Education Award (IDEA) program. In addition she is a member of the Lung Force women’s cabinet.


Matthew H.G. KatzMatthew H.G. Katz, MD, FACS
Discipline/Focus: Surgical Oncology/Pancreatic Cancer

Matthew H.G. Katz, MD, FACS, is currently Associate Professor and Chief of the Pancreatic Surgery Service in the department of Surgical Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. His clinical and research interests focus on patients with pancreatic cancer.

He has extensive experience in the design and conduct of clinical trials has led two national cooperative group studies of the effects of preoperative therapy on patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. He has published over 130 original articles that have described novel multi modality treatment approaches for patients with this disease. He has a thriving pancreatic surgery clinical practice.


Randall KimpleRandall Kimple, MD, PhD
Discipline/Focus: Radiation Oncology/Head and Neck

Randall Kimple, MD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Human Oncology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He obtained his undergraduate degree at Michigan State University and his MD and PhD degrees at the University of North Carolina. He completed a residency in radiation oncology at the University of North Carolina Hospitals and a postdoctoral fellowship in viral oncology and head and neck cancer at the University of Wisconsin.

His clinical practice focuses on the care of patients with head and neck malignancies as a member of the UW Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Oncology Program. His research lab focuses on modulation of therapeutic sensitivity by human papillomavirus and identification of novel targets for increasing the sensitivity of cancer to radiation. He has active research funding from the American Cancer Society, V Foundation for Cancer Research, and National Cancer Institute


Christopher H. LieuChristopher H. Lieu, MD
Discipline/Focus: Medical Oncology/GI

Christopher H. Lieu, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver. He trained in internal medicine at the University of Colorado, where he also served as a Chief Medical Resident. He completed his fellowship training in medical oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He currently serves as the Deputy Associate Director for Clinical Research and the Director of Colorectal Medical Oncology at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

Dr. Lieu is interested in resistance mechanisms to targeted therapy in GI cancers, and he was awarded the Conquer Cancer Foundation Career Development Award and a NIH K23 grant to study targeted therapies in colorectal cancer. He is also investigating novel therapeutic strategies to more effectively treat and prevent colorectal cancer in young adults. Dr. Lieu serves on the National Cancer Institute Colon Cancer Task Force and is a co-chair of the SWOG GI Translational Medicine Committee.


Merry Jennifer MarkhamMerry Jennifer Markham, MD, FACP
Discipline/Focus: Gynecologic Oncology/Gynecologic Cancers and Lymphoma

Merry Jennifer Markham, MD, FACP, is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology & Oncology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. She serves as Co-Leader for the Gynecologic Oncology Program at the UFHealth Cancer Center (UFHCC). Her practice is focused on the care of patients gynecologic cancers, and she is the site principal investigator for interventional clinical trials in gynecologic cancers at UFHCC.

She earned her medical degree from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and she completed both her internal medicine residency and combined hematology and oncology fellowship at the University of Florida. She is an active member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the NRG Oncology clinical trials group, American Society of Hematology, and the Society of Gynecologic Oncology. She has volunteered on the ASCO Cancer Communications and Quality of Care committees, and she is the Social Media Editor for the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Her academic interests also include quality of cancer care, cancer survivorship, and medical education.


Alicia MorgansAlicia Morgans, MD, MPH
Discipline/Focus: Medical Oncology/GU

Alicia Morgans, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Northwestern University’s Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center where she serves as a genitourinary medical oncologist and outcomes researcher.

She completed medical school and residency at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at Harvard’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston, and earned a Master of Public Health at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Morgans treats patients with prostate, bladder, and testicular cancer, and her research assesses complications of advanced prostate cancer survivorship and patient-centered treatment decision-making in advanced prostate cancer.


Martin PalmeriMartin Palmeri, MD, MBA
Discipline/Focus: Community-Medical Oncology/GI, Melanoma, and Immunotherapy

Martin Palmeri, MD, MBA, is a community-based oncologist specializing malignancies of the GI tract and melanoma. Dr. Palmeri completed his fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in 2011. He joined Cancer Care of Western North Carolina in Asheville in August of 2013. As a native of Western North Carolina, Dr. Palmeri is a compassionate and dedicated physician who believes in treating the whole patient and not just the disease.

Dr. Palmeri is the Medical Director for Community and Government Relations for Cancer Care of Western North Carolina, a role consistent with his interest in health policy and economics. He has lobbied local and national representatives for health reform through the AMA, ACP and ASH. During residency, Dr. Palmeri developed and taught a health policy and economic course for first and second year medical students. His research focused on the financial risks facing young physicians in light of rising educational debt, which he advanced through his roles on the American Society of Hematology’s Training Council and the Committee on Practice. Dr. Palmeri resides with his wife and three children in Asheville, NC.


Nathan A. PennellNathan A. Pennell, MD, PhD
Discipline/Focus: Medical Oncology/Lung Cancer

Nathan A. Pennell, MD, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Director of the Lung Cancer Medical Oncology Program at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute. Dr. Pennell completed his internal medicine residency in 2005 at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA and his medical oncology fellowship in 2007 at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He specializes in the care of patients with thoracic malignancies and has been the principal investigator on numerous clinical trials in this population. In addition, he has interests in health care information technology and social media.

Dr. Pennell has served on the ASCO Integrated Media and Technology Committee as well as the Cancer Education and Scientific Program Committees for Lung Cancer. He produces podcasts in his role as Consultant Editor for the Journal of Oncology Practice and is Associate Editor of the ASCO Annual Meeting Educational Book. Dr. Pennell is an also award-winning blogger for ASCO Connection and has been featured as one of ASCO‘s “Featured Voices” on Twitter for the Annual Meeting.


Cardinale B. Smith, MD, PhD
Discipline/Focus: Medical Oncology/ Thoracic Oncology and Palliative

Cardinale B. Smith, MD, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology and the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Director of Quality for Cancer Services, Mount Sinai Health System. She is a clinician investigator whose research interests include evaluating treatment disparities in cancer care, evaluating determinants of cancer patients’ quality of care, characterizing barriers to optimal cancer and palliative care, and developing approaches to eliminating those barriers among racial and ethnic minorities. Dr. Smith is a 2013 recipient of a mentored research scholar grant from the American Cancer Society to evaluate determinants of disparities in the utilization of palliative care among patients with lung cancer. Additionally, she is a co-investigator on a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute grant to teach and enable goals of care conversations among oncologists. Dr. Smith has had numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals, and is the recipient of the 2014 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine “Inspiring Hospice and Palliative Medicine Leader Under 40” award.


Alexandra ThomasAlexandra Thomas, MD
Discipline/Focus: Medical Oncology/Breast Cancer

Alexandra Thomas, MD, FACP, received her AB at Princeton and her MD at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She subsequently trained in Internal Medicine at Stanford and practiced academic General Internal Medicine before completing medical oncology fellowship at the University of Iowa. Dr. Thomas is a Professor of Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine where she has served as the Breast Cancer Program Director since 2016.

Dr. Thomas’ research focuses on improving the lives of patients with breast cancer and includes epidemiologic studies, translational work, and clinical trials. She has been active in the cooperative group setting and chairs the NRG Breast Cancer Rare Tumor Subcommittee. She has received NCI and philanthropic funding for her work. She elected to serve as the 2014-5 University of Iowa Faculty Senate President and received the University of Iowa Brody Award for Faculty Excellence in Service.