CAF Announces Recipients of Distinguished Scholar Award

November 17, 2014 – The Cooley’s Anemia Foundation is pleased to announce that Robert Mannino and Grace Tsai have been named recipients of the first CAF-ApoPharma Distinguished Scholar Award. The Award is presented to U.S. individuals with a clinically significant form of thalassemia who have chosen to pursue postgraduate doctoral level studies in medicine or science.

The CAF-ApoPharma Distinguished Scholar Award is made possible through a grant from pharmaceutical manufacturer ApoPharma, which is providing the funds in recognition of the Foundation’s 60th anniversary.

“I would like to congratulate Robert Mannino and Grace Tsai on their being selected as the recipients of the inaugural CAF-ApoPharma Distinguished Scholar Award,” says Dr. Michael Spino, President of ApoPharma. “We at ApoPharma are delighted to be able to share in the support of such worthy candidates who plan to devote their lives to helping others by pursuing doctoral studies in the health sciences.”

“Robert and Grace are excellent choices for this new scholarship opportunity,” says Anthony J. Viola, CAF National President. “The Foundation is proud to offer support to these talented individuals as they take the next steps in their career paths, and we thank ApoPharma for providing the funding for this important Award.”

Robert Mannino

“I’d like to thank the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation for awarding me this scholarship and supporting me as I advance in my academic career,” says Robert, who is studying biomedical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “I wouldn’t be able to pursue my dream of helping others with thalassemia through biomedical research without the continued support of the Foundation, the research it funds, and its work with the medical professionals who treat individuals like me.”

“Being in a hospital all the time growing up, and getting to know a lot of people with blood-related illnesses, I want to use my talents to help others,” he says of his reason to seek an advanced degree in sciences. “I have seen firsthand what medical innovation from diagnostics to therapy can do to improve the life of a patient. My ultimate goal is to use my degree and the skills I will attain in graduate school to become a biomedical engineer translating research into new diagnostics and therapies for blood diseases in an industry setting. I hope to focus on developing new tools to study hemoglobin diseases and to improve patient outcomes. It is an honor that the Foundation has chosen to help me to pursue my goal.”

Grace Tsai

Grace Tsai

“Receiving the CAF-ApoPharma Distinguished Scholar Award means a lot to me,” says Grace, who is working toward a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. “I am so grateful, as it does relieve some stress from this path I’ve chosen. As one may know, pursuing a doctoral degree requires a lot of time and work. With attending classes, studying for exams, and living life (not to mention squeezing in a transfusion every three weeks), having to not worry about some of the tuition is such a huge relief.”

Grace previously worked for 8 years as a registered nurse. She has a sincere desire to provide healthcare to people and to be able to relate to them on many different levels.

“CAF has been there many times for support for me and my family through so many years,” Grace continues. “For example, when there were issues with Desferal or the pump; help finding clinics, or patients to reach out to for advice; and providing a grant while pursuing my nursing degree.”

Grace adds, “I would like to say to the patients: Things don’t always come easy, but do not let living with thalassemia be the biggest obstacle in life. Be as healthy as possible in order to handle all the other curveballs life throws at you. Keep chelating, keep yourself as healthy as possible, and you could achieve anything you put your mind to.”

CAF congratulates Robert and Grace on this significant achievement.

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