PRA Health Sciences
PRA Health Sciences

Two of our PRA colleagues will be running the Boston Marathon this year as part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge, which raises funds to benefit the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

We'd like to introduce you to them and share their reasons for running -- and how you can get involved:

Mike

MIKE KARLOWICZ, MBA, PROJECT SPECIALIST

What made you decide to participate?

I grew up and went to school in the Boston area and have always been fascinated by the Boston Marathon. For those who have not experienced Marathon Monday it is quite an event, literally millions of people congregate on the 26.2-mile route from Hopkinton to Boston to watch the tens of thousands of runners. Although I have always had an internal itch to compete in the race I decided to run in honor of my mother, who was recently diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Why the Dana-Farber Foundation—what do you want people to know about this organization?

I am running to raise money for the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I chose Dana-Farber for multiple reasons. First, they are the cancer center that is treating my mother. All of the proceeds go toward the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research which studies the biology and genetics of cancers to identify new targets for treatment. Dana-Farber treats a range of cancers and has research sites that PRA manages (one of which is involved in a study I am currently working on).

Mike and his mom

How do you feel about running a marathon?

Prior to submitting my application, I have never run more than a 5K, so I’m extremely nervous, mostly about the concept of having to run 8-10 miles after work during some weeks of my training. Luckily, I won’t face the prospect of running in the cold and snow that I would face in New England!

How are you preparing?

I have been running A LOT! Since the marathon isn’t until mid-April, the formal training kick-off begins in early December. However, to kick off the training I needed to be ready to run at least four days per week and comfortably be able to complete 15 miles per week. Although I ran occasionally, I could not say 15 miles per week was achievable, so I began training in late September, ran a 5K with PRA and UCB in October, and I ran the Durham half-marathon on December 9. Luckily, I have a friend who is a Physical Therapist, has run Boston twice, and helps train first time marathoners. He has been helping give me pointers on training smart, off-day strengthening exercises, and how to prevent injury.

What do you do at PRA?

I work as a Project Specialist supporting the management of multiple studies and portfolios. My responsibilities include managing training for the trials I support, identifying process improvements within the portfolios I support, managing systems access, supporting the financial management of studies, and a whole lot more.

Do you do anything related to cancer research?

I was recently assigned to a study that is a first in human oncology study. We are in the early stages of the study but I’m very excited to be involved!

Mike training

How did you get involved in the CRO industry?

Clinical research plays an important role in shaping the treatments of the future and the amount of clinical studies make this an exciting time to be a part of the industry. As an undergrad I had the opportunity to intern at an Alzheimer’s research site where I supported the team of research associates. I also worked for three years after graduation as a Clinical Safety Associate. Although I left for business school and entered the healthcare IT industry for a short time, I was interested in rejoining the CRO industry when my wife and I decided to move to the Research Triangle in 2016.

What do you enjoy about your work?

Being a part of an industry that can have a substantial impact on people’s lives is a great perk of working in the CRO industry, but I’d be lying if I told you that is why I enjoy my work, because I could work for most any other CRO or Pharma companies and feel the same. The best part about coming to work at PRA is the people that I work with. I am part of an amazing group of Project Associates and Project Specialists and the project teams I work with have been amazing.

What do you think will motivate you as you run 26 miles?

The millions of people (those diagnosed and their friends and family) affected by cancer each day, especially the members of my family who have been affected. My mother is facing her second battle with cancer (she had beaten breast cancer about 15 years ago), my father (he beat melanoma about 25 years ago), and my uncle (he passed from brain cancer in 2001). I’m also lucky to have a great support network back home. I have a large family, a great wife, and a lot of close friends that will be cheering me on along the marathon route.

How can people help your effort?

In addition to the moral support that I will need, people can donate (my goal is to raise $11,000) to my cause on my personal fundraising page: www.rundfmc.org/2018/mkarlowicz and by liking my Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/karlsagainstkancer/ There you will be able to find information on any upcoming events that I have planned.

I am working with the RDU Activity Committee to help spread the word on some of my planned events. I am planning a College Bowl Pick ’em pool (similar to the NCAA Tournament pool run every year), a couple of bake sales, potentially a jean’s day, some 50/50 raffles, a Mike Makes your Lunch Day, and potentially a benefit happy hour in the spring.

Maria

GUADALUPE DE MAEYER, CLINICAL PROJECT ASSOCIATE

What made you decide to participate?

Even though I wasn’t raised in Boston, it is the city that most feels like home to me. I went to college here, and I’ve been living here for almost 13 years. The Boston Marathon is such an iconic event for the city. As a runner, I’ve had Boston in my bucket list and it is such a prestigious race. I am incredibly excited to be running it and it is a privilege to do it with the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Team.

Who is your patient partner? What can you share about her?

My patient partner is Maria, she is five years old and is currently getting treatment at the Jimmy Fund Clinic in Dana-Farber. It is her first time participating in the Patient Partner program that is offered to DFMC runners. Even though she gets treatment every Wednesday at the clinic, she is full of positive energy, and (I’m sure everyone would say this about their patient partner) she is the most adorable five-year old.

Maria and guadalupe

Why the Dana-Farber Foundation—what do you want people to know about this organization?

100% of the money raised by the DFMC is directed to the Barr Program. The program enables leading-edge, highly-innovative research up to the point that it may be possible to attract government or private support, allowing Barr Investigators to bring promising studies forward and make major scientific breakthroughs.

How do you feel about running the marathon?

I am a weird combination of really excited and really nervous. I’ve done several half-marathons, and ran my first marathon in Chicago this past October. I consider myself a runner (not so much a marathoner yet!) but this marathon has a special meaning to me. I am not just running for myself, I am running for a cause, for Maria, for all the patients and their families and their friends who I represent. And it’s not any city or any course, it’s the city that I live in, with its symbolic hills and neighborhoods.

How are you preparing?

I am part of a running group called Midnight Runners, and we do a bootcamp 10k run every Tuesday night around the Charles. I do the informal runs with fellow team members on Thursday nights. Saturday mornings I join the Heartbreak Hill running club’s long runs out of Newton. I try to mix in some cross training while I have the energy and the time! My best friend is also running Boston with a different charity, I think that helps us stay accountable for our mileage and our training.

Guadalupe03

What do you do for PRA?

I started working for PRA in mid-October. I am working in Cambridge MA, as a Clinical Project Associate in the Rare Diseases group.

Do you do anything related to cancer research?

Prior to joining PRA, I worked in Dana-Farber for 3 and half years in clinical research for lymphoma. I’ve seen what clinical research can do for patients where standard therapy couldn’t help anymore. It is remarkable to see the progress and the impact it has on the quality of life of patients.

How did you get involved in the CRO industry?

I had worked for a long time in clinical research, at a site, and wanted to learn more about what it was like to be on the other side. I have many friends who had made the switch and it seemed like a logical step to take.

What do you enjoy about your work?

I like being involved in clinical trials and help them grow and be successful. From the pharmaceutical/sponsor side of clinical trials you get a very different perspective than being on the site side of a study, it’s very interesting and there is so much to learn from it!

What do you think will motivate you as you run 26 miles?

I think people are greatest motivators. Especially when you are training and running for so long, it’s not really something you can do alone. The incredible communities gathered around the course, fellow teammates, and runners, patients like Maria, they all give you the energy when you need it. And having my mom, and my friends cheering along the course! It’s going to be such an incredible day.

How can people help your effort?

I have a fundraising site (www.rundfmc.org/2018/guadalupe), and I am finalizing some fundraising events. Donations and helping spread the word are more than welcome! I use social media (Instagram, Facebook) to promote/advertise my fundraising, any help to support my efforts is greatly appreciated.

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