Speaker Bios

MBC Symposium Speaker & Panelist Bios

Nora Disis, M.D.

Dr. Disis is the Helen B. Slonaker Endowed Professor for Cancer Research at the University of Washington (UW), Associate Dean for Translational Health Sciences in the UW School of Medicine, Professor of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Pathology and Obstetrics and Gynecology at UW and a Member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She is the Director of UW Medicine’s Cancer Vaccine Institute. Her research interest is in the discovery of new molecular immunologic targets in solid tumors for the development of vaccine and cellular therapy for the treatment and prevention of common malignancies. In addition, her group evaluates the use of the immune system to aid in the diagnosis of cancer and develops novel assays and approaches to quantitate and characterize human immunity. She holds several patents in the field of targeted cancer immunotherapy and immune-based diagnostics.

Dr. Disis is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. She holds a leadership award from the Komen for the Cure Foundation and is an American Cancer Society Clinical Professor. Dr. Disis is the Editor-in-Chief of JAMA Oncology.

Danny R. Welch, Ph.D.

Danny R. Welch, Ph.D. is a cancer biologist whose laboratory has is most widely recognized for contributions to understanding the genetic basis of metastasis, having discovered eight metastasis suppressor genes. His laboratory is studying how the metastasis suppressors function and is designing therapies to take advantage of their mechanisms of action. He is the author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and more than 20 book chapters, including the first attempt to define the hallmarks of cancer metastasis.

After receiving a BS in Biology from the University of California-Irvine and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas-Houston, Welch worked in the pharmaceutical industry studying cancer biology and virology before joining Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. In 2002, his laboratory moved to the University of Alabama – Birmingham and in 2011, he founded the Department
of Cancer Biology at the University of Kansas Cancer Center. He has been a Komen Scholar and President of the Metastasis Research Society and the Cancer Biology Training Consortium. He currently serves as Deputy Editor of the journal Cancer Research and is most proud of the successes of his trainees, past, and present. He is also a strong advocate for the metastatic patient community.


Kim Bland, DNP, APRN-NP, AOCN

Kim is a Nurse Practitioner with the Methodist Hospital Palliative Care team. She received her BSN from Midland College in Fremont, her Master’s Degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner from Creighton University, and her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Nebraska Methodist College. She is an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse. Along with inpatient Palliative care responsibilities, Kim also sees patients in the outpatient Palliative care clinic.

Wendy Buchholz, OTR/L, CLT-LANA

Wendy Buchholz OTR/L, CLT-LANA graduated from Creighton University’s Occupational Therapy program in 1996. She has been a certified lymphedema therapist since 2001 and board-certified through the Lymphology Association of North America since 2002. She has practiced in multiple health systems in acute, sub-acute, skilled care, long term care, home health, hospice, and outpatient settings. Currently, she works at Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center, primarily treating breast, head and neck and melanoma cancer patients. She is married with three grown children and four growing granddaughters and shares her home with two greyhounds and two kitties. In her spare time, she gardens and manages the VRBO she and her husband own in the Blackstone neighborhood.

Lori Buckley, OTR/L, CLT

Lori Buckley is an Occupational Therapist, a Certified Lymphedema Specialist, and a Reiki Master. She has 28 years of experience; the last 11 years have been working primarily with oncology thrivers. Lori graduated from Creighton University in 91’ and later received her training to become a Certified Lymphedema Specialist from Norton School of Lymphatics and then became certified in the LETTESSE Fusion Instrument – Lymphatic Enhancement Technology. Lori also is an Usuia Reiki Master which allows her to incorporate the mind and spirit into her treatment sessions.

After years of assisting survivors with their physical health and her son sustaining a serious double concussion during a football game which lead to a series of medical complications, she realized that something was missing. Lori realized that the western medical world did not have all the answers. She discovered the power of Reiki and wants to bring that gift to others. Her goal is to “Be the Change” and bridge the gap between Western and Eastern medical practices. She believes that for true peace and harmony we must address the mind and spirit in addition to the physical body. Lori realized that in order for our bodies to have complete health they need to be free of negatives energies that lead to physical and emotional decline.

Lori has presented at multiple survivorship programs in addition to educational institutions in the Omaha area. She practices as an Occupational Therapist, focusing on cancer rehabilitation/ lymphedema and incorporates Reiki into her daily practice. American Occupational Therapy Association recognizes Reiki as a therapeutic healing modality.

Maureen Feeney, RN, BSN, M.om, L.Ac.

Maureen Feeney, RN, BSN, M.Om., L.Ac., has 20 years of experience as a registered nurse. During her tenure, she cared for patients in long-term care, telemetry, intensive care, and interventional radiology.

An Omaha native, she traveled the United States serving patients of various socio-economical backgrounds, educational levels, ethnic groups, and religious/spiritual belief systems.

In 2005, Maureen had her first experience with acupuncture. Intrigued with the results, she initiated further study of Eastern Medicine. As her investigation progressed, Maureen noticed a need for bridging the gap between Western and Eastern Medicine. She completed her degree at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota in 2011 and practiced there while she prepared for her return to her home in Omaha.

Maureen opened River Point Acupuncture with a goal to provide the Omaha/Metro Area with the highest quality of acupuncture available. She hopes to educate others on the extraordinary benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine while bridging the gap between Western and Eastern medical philosophies.

Maureen believes active listening is one of the most important elements of patient care. She understands that each person is unique and deserves to be treated as such. Maureen works with each patient to create a plan to re-balance the system through nutrition, lifestyle, acupuncture, and herbs. She believes in joining Western and Chinese Medicine to provide the highest quality of care possible.

Jairam Krishnamurthy, M.D., F.A.C.P.

Dr. Jairam Krishnamurthy graduated from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India in 2005. He then went on to do a post-doctoral research fellowship in the Hematopoietic Stem Cell transplantation program at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL. Following this, he did an internship in Internal Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and residency in Internal Medicine at Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, NE.

After completing his residency, he joined the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and completed his fellowship in Medical Oncology and Hematology. After completion of his fellowship at UNMC, he served as a faculty member for one year at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO specializing in the care of breast cancer patients and conducting clinical trials. He currently resides in Omaha and is the Co-director on Inpatient Medical/Surgical Oncology Floor and an Associate Director of the Breast Cancer Program at Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at UNMC. He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Internal Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology and has been awarded fellowship in the American College of Physicians. He has authored or co-authored numerous articles, book chapters and abstracts. He has also presented his research at several national and international meetings. He has also served as an expert reviewer for a number of scientific journals. He is currently involved with clinical trials related to breast cancer (hormone receptor-positive, Her-2 positive and triple-negative disease). He lives in West Omaha with his wife, Devi, and kids – Sahana and Shravan.

Joel Michalski, M.D., Ph.D.

I am proud to have been born and raised in Nebraska and completed all of my education at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. I have a strong interest in how the immune system interacts with cancer, and how those interactions can be utilized to treat many cancers. The fields of hematology and oncology are complex, and I’m committed to providing the best, high-quality care that modern medicine has to offer, along with a sincere desire to treat people, not just a disease. I learned at an early age that hard work is the currency of success. I applied that principle over many years of training and strive to provide that for every one of my patients.

My first career path did not include medicine, but along the way of other endeavors, I rediscovered my passion for science and helping people. During my education, I played amateur football and was the first MD/Ph.D. scholar at UNMC to complete their Ph.D. in three years. Outside of the clinic, I enjoy spending time with my wife, and our young twin boys. I also like to lift weights, build cabinetry and furniture, camp, read, travel and volunteer. I have an older Nissan 300zx, that I have owned for over 20 years, and enjoy driving it when the weather allows.
Associations/Awards/Appointments:

  • The American Society of Hematology
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Nebraska Medical Association
  • Metro Omaha Medical Society – Editorial & Membership Committees
  • UNMC House Officers Association – Community Liaison

Thomas Owens, Co-survivor

Tom Owens was a Caregiver of his wife Jan, for 13 years as she battled Breast Cancer and Metastatic Breast Cancer. Through Jan’s Journey, the Owens’ enjoyed sharing their story and experiences with others diagnosed with Breast Cancer and their Spouses. Jan lost her battle on May 17, 2018.

Tom has had the opportunity to present on a couple of Breast Cancer Survivor’s cruises sponsored by the Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine. Tom discusses what husbands go through while caring for their spouse and what signs to look for when it is time to ask for assistance. Tom is an advocate for Breast Cancer Care and dedicates his time to giving back in Jan’s name, letting Caregivers know that they are not alone and by sharing with others, everyone can grow in the knowledge of opportunities and caregiving resources available.

Judy Quest, Patient Advocate

Judy Quest is a wife, mother of three to Daniel, Melanie and Laura and is a grandma to three granddaughters. Daniel is a Ph.D. in bioinformatics at Mayo Clinic, Melanie is a wonderful young lady who has multiple disabilities and lives with Judy and her husband, and Laura works for Microsoft Germany and is married to an international opera singer. She has been married to her husband for 45 years who is a ceramics artist. Judy was a guidance counselor for 47 years who recently retired six years ago as the College Counselor at Duchesne Academy. She has also spent 38 years as a professional clown teaching and performing all across the U.S. Judy is living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer for 8 years and she makes it her purpose in life to make people happy!

Jami Tran-Balk, RD, CSO, LMNT

Jami has more than 17 years of experience as a registered dietitian one of only three registered dietitians working in Nebraska who is board certified as a Specialist in Oncology Nutrition. At Methodist, Jami works with patients to develop a plan for good nutrition, which can help reduce the risk of cancer, keep patients healthier during treatment and combat side effects and illness. She loves her job and the opportunity to make an impact on patients’ daily lives.

Mary Huerter Wells, M.D.

Dr. Wells is completing a fellowship in medical oncology and hematology this spring and will be joining Nebraska Cancer Specialists as a general oncologist and hematologist. She also has a background in palliative medicine. Dr. Wells has a special interest in breast cancer and in taking a personalized approach as a partner to people with breast cancer and their loved ones in understanding their illness and choosing the treatment option that is best for them. She has two young stepsons and loves testing new recipes on unsuspecting loved ones, imagining what her dogs would say if they could talk and coercing her husband into playing board games.

Lori Wingerter, MA, LIMHP, NBCC, LPC

Lori has dedicated her career to supporting “emotional wellness” to anyone fighting cancer as well as their caregivers.  Lori believes emotional support is the important “missing piece” in cancer care and that it must be treated differently than traditional mental health.  She loves to meet with patients early in the cancer journey to assist them in understanding what they can do to help themselves fight and survive cancer at every stage.  Her goal is to not only help her patients be surivors…but to be “cancer thrivers.”  She believes every person fighting cancer deserves a “safe place” to dump difficult emotions, fears and frustrations and then replace them with healing, empowering thoughts and tools.  Her goal is to assist patients in creating their best lives – whatever the circumstances. She earned her MA from the University of Omaha, is a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner in the states of Nebraska and Arizona and currently supports patients in her private practice.

Lori has been a part of the oncology community in Omaha for many years.  She currently sits on the Board of Directors of A Time To Heal and facilitates classes such as Survivorship 101 and Cancer-Related Brain Fog.  She can often be found speaking to groups wearing her hiking gear as she draws parallels between climbing mountains and fighting cancer!

Rhonda Wise, RM, MSN, OCN, RYT200

Rhonda’s mission is to bear witness to love for self and others in the world. She is a Yoga Alliance registered graduate of 200-Hour yoga teacher training and certified Yoga4Cancer instructor. She holds her Master of Science degree in Nursing. Her nursing career has focused on working with oncology patients since 2005. Since 2010 she has worked primarily as a certified facilitator of support groups and workshops in the community; teaching cancer survivors how to move forward and truly live their best life after a cancer diagnosis. Through her personal yoga practice, she has found strength, resilience, clarity, and insight. It is her greatest hope to share this gift with her clients.

Rhonda is passionate about continuing to grow, learn, and empower herself and others to live fully, consciously, and without judgment. She has studied with Carole Westerman, Suzanne DeJong, Maria Garre, and Tari Prinster to deepen her understanding of yoga and its restorative power. Her goal is for students to leave her class with a sense of personal strength by creating a safe and nurturing space for exploration, openness, kindness, and love.

Rhonda’s style of teaching is to meet you wherever you are on that day. Her belief in stillness and listening to the body while honoring its wisdom is an important part of her philosophy. She believes there is beauty, strength, and purpose in everybody, and all levels of students are welcome.

Hadi Zahra, M.D.

Dr. Hadi Zahra is a board-certified Radiation Oncologist with Creighton University Medical Center- Henry Lynch Cancer Center at Bergan Mercy and Hematology & Oncology Consultants, P.C. in Omaha, Nebraska.

Dr. Zahra received his medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha, Nebraska. He completed his Transitional-Year Residency at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, Illinois, and his Radiation Oncology Residency training at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. His interests include stereotactic ablative radiotherapy, image-guided techniques and the use of IMRT treatment delivery.

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