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We Honor the 2021 MPN Heroes

You nominated them for making a difference in the lives of people living with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). Their actions made them heroes. Hear their personal stories and learn why the 2021 MPN Heroes were acknowledged for their commitment to MPN care.

Image of Jeff Bushnell—Caregiver




Jeff Bushnell may have spent 30 years in the military, but today his service is to the MPN community. His connection to patients and families affected by myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) stems from his own role as a caregiver. His wife, Summer, lives with myelofibrosis (MF).

Since Summer’s diagnosis, Jeff has made it his mission to learn everything he can about the disease. “I keep up-to-date and have a pretty strong knowledge of what’s going on in the MPN community because I’m interested in it—obviously because I want to see the best care for Summer.

It is that same passion and drive for Summer’s well-being that led Jeff to become an MPN Network Manager at the Patient Empowerment Network (PEN). Together, he and Summer work diligently to write and record videos and other helpful resources to empower those along their own MPN journeys. Through various media, they have helped more than 140,000 patients and caregivers get vital information and tools for making informed care decisions.

Image of Ronald Hoffman, MD




Dr. Ronald Hoffman’s dedication to translational research is all about making a difference in the lives of patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). With an extensive background in laboratory-based stem cell research as well as hands-on care of patients with hematological malignancies, Dr. Hoffman has a passion for scientific investigation that spans nearly 50 years.

His unique position at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center allows him to concentrate on the scientific and regulatory duties as a principal investigator, while collaborating on a daily basis with his peers.

For Dr. Hoffman, “All the basic science is geared toward improving the lives of patients with MPNs, and I hope in my lifetime that will make a big impact.”

Dr. Hoffman is a past editor of Experimental Hematology, was president of the International Society of Experimental Hematology, and was president of the American Society of Hematology (ASH), demonstrating his skill for coordinating the activities of highly qualified investigators who comprise the Myeloproliferative Disorders Research Consortium.

Image of Nicole Kucine, MD




Dr. Nicole Kucine serves as an advocate for younger patients and their families within the small, pediatric myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) community. Her pediatric hematology-oncology practice at Weill Cornell Medicine serves as her home base where she is dedicated to helping parents navigate the unknowns with compassion and concern.

She focuses her clinical interests on complex pediatric medical issues, including MPNs. She is an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine and Associate Pediatrician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Dr. Kucine’s research and experience with children around the world brings reassurance that despite challenges, the goal for her patients is to “have the most normal life possible.” Although MPNs are rare in pediatric patients, she provides words of encouragement, “Your kid is going to grow up, and we’re going to help them do that.”

Image of Amy Lane – Patient Advocate


Patient Advocate


Amy Lane’s recognition as a 2021 MPN Hero has brought her full circle. Having a sibling diagnosed with blood cancer in the 1970s, she understands firsthand the emotional and financial challenges that accompany a myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) diagnosis.

Amy joined the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) in 2016 as an Information Specialist and has been dedicated to providing one-on-one assistance to patients and caregivers around the world ever since. Key to her work is her compassion, kindness, and calm, providing callers with a source of comfort and hope. “A lot of listening goes into what I do. Many patients are newly diagnosed, and they don’t even know where to start.”

Amy’s impact is reflected through the many thank you notes she has received for providing patients and caregivers up-to-date resources and information about MPNs.

Image of John Mascarenhas, MD




Being an MPN Hero is nothing new for Dr. John Mascarenhas. He was nominated in 2013 as one of the first MPN Heroes, and his dedication and relentless work for patients with MPNs is recognized again this year.

Among patients and colleagues, Dr. Mascarenhas continues to be a standout among physicians. He exemplifies this through an optimistic and forward-thinking perspective. “My fulfillment has evolved over time. I’ve always enjoyed the direct patient contact, but I’ve also come to really get excited by the implications of the advances we’ve made, and the potential to help many more people than I will ever meet down the line.”

At the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Dr. Mascarenhas devotes endless hours to creating breakthrough research that helps ensure each of his patients receives optimal care.

An exemplary clinical investigator and clinician, Dr. Mascarenhas is focused on helping improve possibilities for patients with MPNs, working hands-on to provide insights from ongoing MPN research.

Image of Jessica Neely—Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant


In her role as a physician assistant at the Emory Winship Cancer Institute, Jessica Neely gives each of her patients living with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) the care and respect they deserve. Though she works from 9 to 5, there’s no limit to the time she’s willing to give to her patients.

Jessica is often accessible round the clock to help patients overcome obstacles related to their MPNs. From information about their disease, to helping with financial resources, Jessica addresses each patient concern in a timely and thoughtful manner. Jessica is known for giving each patient the care that she would provide a friend or family member.

By listening closely and understanding a patient’s perspective, Jessica is able to thoughtfully address patient concerns. “I try to make them a little less frightened about what to expect and what they’re going through.”

Image of Josef Prchal, MD




A professor in the Division of Hematology and Hematologic Malignancies at the University of Utah, Dr. Prchal is dedicated to researching myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) and caring for patients with MPNs.

As a physician scientist, Dr. Prchal goes as deep as possible into the science of MPNs. In his vast research, Dr. Prchal focuses on trying to understand the molecular basis of blood diseases to discover underlying mutations and how they function.

His work as a lead investigator in MPNs in the early 2000s led directly to the discovery of the JAK2V617F mutation by William Vainchenker and others in 2005. His ongoing interest and dedication are likely to continue to make a lasting imprint on the science of MPNs.

Dr. Prchal’s passion for research stems from his desire to break convention. “When you find something unusual, it opens domains to look at unusual things. I find it very exciting.”

When not conducting research, Dr. Prchal spends his time in clinical trials at the Huntsman Cancer Center treating patients with MPNs. He has been named a Huntsman Cancer Institute Investigator, and is a member of the Cell Response and Regulation Program, and the Imaging, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics Program.

Image of Anita Rajasekhar, MD




Hematologist/oncologist Dr. Anita Rajasekhar is driven to give patients living with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) the type of care that improves their lives. Although she is fascinated by the complexity of MPNs, her patients are her real motivation. “What inspires me to get up and do this on a day-to-day basis, it’s about the people. You want to make their lives better in any way you can.”

A busy clinician and clinical investigator at the Division of Hematology & Oncology at the University of Florida, Dr. Rajasekhar is also an Associate Professor who helps train the next generation of leaders in hematology/oncology. This year, she has the honor of being an Education Program Co-Chair for the 2021 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting, helping to oversee programs and materials for non-malignant hematology.

It’s the patient care aspect of her work, however, that has led her to be recognized as an MPN Hero. Her patients appreciate her consistent, ongoing commitment, as she routinely demonstrates genuine care and concern for helping them manage their MPNs.

2021 Judging Panel

An independent judging panel reviewed the nominations and selected the recipients for recognition. The panel consisted of:

Image of Michelle Couri, MD, FACOG, ABIHM



Dr. Michele Couri completed her MD at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois. She completed a Fellowship in Integrative Medicine through the University of Arizona. She is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria and is in private practice specializing in Gynecological health, minimally invasive Gynecologic surgery, wellness, and lifestyle medicine. She and her husband Tim are the proud parents of six children.

Dr. Couri is very familiar with MPNs as she was diagnosed with PV in 2010 that progressed to MF in 2020. She underwent a successful stem cell transplant in November 2020. She is the Founder and President of MPN Peoria, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to raise awareness and funding for MPNs. MPN Peoria was launched in February 2019. To date, MPN Peoria has raised over $200,000 for MPN research. Dr. Couri received the 2020 MPN Heroes award and is humbled to share this honor with all the prior recipients.

Image of Angela Fleischman, MD, PhD



Dr. Angela Fleischman is a physician-scientist investigating hematologic malignancies. She integrates her research with the clinical care of patients with these diseases.

Fleischman's longstanding interest in blood cell development began during her PhD graduate studies at Stanford. After completing her MD and PhD at Stanford, in 2005 she moved to Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) for her internal medicine residency and medical oncology fellowship.

She joined the University of California, Irvine in July 2013 to develop her independent laboratory group focusing on the pathogenesis of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). Her laboratory focuses on the role of inflammation in MPNs. Her overarching research goal is to identify what drives disease initiation in MPNs and to ultimately translate her scientific discoveries into therapeutic benefits for MPN patients.

Image of Madeleine Henriquez, PA-C



Madeleine Henriquez is a physician assistant (PA) who graduated from the University of Texas – Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. Shortly after graduation, she joined the Leukemia Department at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where she has worked collaboratively with Dr. Prithviraj Bose to care for MPN patients. Over the past 6 years, she has developed a passion and enthusiasm for this unique patient population. She has thoroughly enjoyed fostering strong, long-lasting relationships with her patients and their caregivers.

Madeleine believes that patient education is the foundation for quality care and positive clinical outcomes. Her goal is to empower her patients to “take charge” of their diagnosis. In addition, she feels that mental health and physical well-being are strongly intertwined, so she promotes this amongst her patients and peers! Madeleine gives many lectures on a local and national level regarding myeloid malignancies with a focus on MPNs. She has partnered with various national media outlets such as MPN Updates through JADPRO to discuss the importance of mental health in patients with MPNs.

In her spare time, Madeleine enjoys spending time with her family. Her hobbies include cooking (her newest venture is toddler-friendly meals), running, mothering her plants, crocheting and trying all the delicious restaurants that Houston has to offer.

Image of Rami S. Komrokji, MD



Rami S. Komrokji, MD, is a clinical investigator at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. His research focus is on phase I and II clinical trials in Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia. He is the lead clinical investigator for the MDS Program at the Cancer Center. He has conducted several translational clinical trials working with the program’s basic scientists. He has also developed the MDS database, which is one of the largest in the world. Finally, he serves as the Moffitt Cancer Center PI for the MDS Clinical Consortium, which is an agreement between 6 of the largest MDS Programs in the country for conducting clinical trials in MDS. He serves as a member on the MDS NCCN committee and on the NIH MDS natural history study committee. His work in the field of MDS, specifically conducting clinical trials and outcome research, is well recognized internationally and he has collaborated with all the major MDS programs worldwide.

Image of Nick Napolitano—Patient Advocate


Patient Advocate

Nick Napolitano, originally from Staten Island New York, is a Regional Tax Marketing Leader for PwC in New York. He is also the Staten Island Community Committee Chair for the 2021 Light The Night campaign. Nick was diagnosed with polycythemia vera (PV) in 2016. The diagnosis, although initially very tough for Nick and his family, is now viewed by Nick as a great gift as it has allowed him to find his true calling as a patient advocate.

Since his diagnosis, he has dedicated himself to educating others and raising awareness of MPNs. Nick has shared his story through a documentary titled “The Unknown.” In it, he discusses his determination to help others meet the challenges of living with an MPN. Nick also partnered with advocacy groups to create and share coronavirus coping strategies for patients with MPNs. He has appeared in numerous webinars and virtual meetings, often discussing topical issues with pioneers in the MPN field. He has been working with LLS for the past 3 years and was a featured patient hero at the 2020 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night event. He was also recently honored for his advocacy work by CURE magazine, by being named a 2020 MPN Hero.

Nick knows how important it is to raise awareness and continue to have a drive towards research and funding for all blood cancer patients worldwide. He credits his strong family support and the invaluable and selfless work of advocacy organizations for having a positive influence on his journey with PV. Nick is an avid sports fan and in his spare time coaches his sons’ baseball teams. He currently resides in Westchester County with his wife Kara and two sons Nicholas and Jake.