Scientific Leadership

Pediatric Steering Committee

Pediatric Melanoma Leadership

The MRF’s Pediatric Melanoma Leadership is made up of two different groups: the Scientific Steering Committee and the Parent Steering Committee. These volunteers dedicate their time and efforts to advancing the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of pediatric melanoma.

Scientific Steering Committee

  • Cynthia Herzog, MD – MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Whitney High, MD, JD, Eng – University of Colorado, Denver
  • Alberto Pappo, MD – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • Krista Rubin, NP – Massachusetts General Hospital & Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation
  • Brittani Seynnaeve, MD – Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
  • Vernon Sondak, MD – H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center

Parent Steering Committee

Collette Dahl
California
Collette lives in California with her husband Shane and their four children. In January of 2010, their son, Mason, was diagnosed with Stage IIIb nodular melanoma on his left cheek at the age of 3 and a half. He underwent many surgeries, Interferon treatments and facial reconstruction. He is currently NED. Collette’s full time job is raising her four children.

Daniell Jarrell
Louisiana
Dani is the wife of Jason and mother of three children: Alex, Skylar and Grace. Grace was diagnosed with Stage IIIc nodular and spitzoid melanoma in July 2010 at the age of 4. She had several surgeries and completed a year of interferon. Although she has numerous health issues, she remains NED. Grace is treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. In search of other pediatric melanoma families, and in an effort to spread awareness, the Jarrells created Grace’s Green Wagon, a Facebook support group. Grace spends her free time making crafts with her sister, playing video games and daydreaming.

Stephanie Mainer
Florida
Stephanie lives in Florida with her three sons. Her son, Isaiah, was diagnosed with melanoma in 2013 at the age of 3. He is currently NED continues to have regular checkups locally. Stephanie became an advocate after researching melanoma and seeing the surge in children diagnosed with pediatric melanoma. Stephanie is a middle school English teacher.

Andrea Smith
Utah
Andrea and her husband, Matt, have two children, ages 5 and 3. Clara, now 3, was diagnosed with Stage II spitzoid melanoma just a few days before her 2nd birthday. Her wide local excision and sentinel lymph node biopsy, thankfully, showed no evidence of disease. Clara is regularly checked by a melanoma specialist and pediatric dermatologist. After teaching for several years, Andrea is now an Instructional Coach at an elementary school.

Ali Thackeray
Utah
Ali and her husband, Mark, have 4 girls and enjoy playing together as a family. Their third daughter, Ruby, was born in March 2013 with a large vascular tumor on her neck. After three surgeries, it was removed when she was 22 months old. Pathology of the tumor showed signs of melanoma, but it was not conclusive and her scans were clear. Through routine scans in 2016, she was diagnosed at 3 years old, with Stage IV melanoma, with several tumors on her lungs. Ruby began treatment with Nivolumab and the tumors stabilized after stopping treatment, so it was started a second time. After further genetic testing, Ruby started a trial drug, Entrectinib. As of March 2019, Ruby is NED. Mark and Ali appreciate the paths that this diagnosis has led their family on and hope to help others on their journeys.