Honoring those individuals who excel in their efforts to raise awareness and education around chronic lymphocytic leukemia

CURE®  Chronic
Lymphocytic Leukemia Heroes



John C. Byrd, M.D.

John C. Byrd, M.D., is an internationally known researcher and a clinical specialist in leukemia and other hematologic malignancies at The Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James), where he serves as senior adviser for cancer experimental therapeutics. He is a distinguished university professor of medicine

and medicinal chemistry and holds the D. Warren Brown chair in leukemia research in the division of hematology within the department of medicine.

Byrd’s work in moving drugs from the lab to the clinic has helped identify novel agents that are effective against chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), including Rituxan (rituximab), Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), Zydelig (idelalisib), Imbruvica (ibrutinib) and recently Calquence (acalabrutinib). He is also developing new therapeutics specifically for older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). He is one of the principals and the chief medical officer on a large multicenter trial called Beat AML, sponsored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), which focuses on personalized targeted therapy for these patients. His goal of developing targeted agents is derived from his desire to offer patients nontoxic therapies that improve survival with fewer side effects.

His work has been recognized through honors including the Return of the Child Award presented by the LLS (2016), election as a fellow in the American College of Physicians (2017), the William Dameshek Prize (2015), the Emil J. Freireich Award (2013) and the R. Schilsky CALGB Lifetime Achievement Award (2010). Outside Ohio State University, he has held leadership positions on many distinguished boards and committees.

Byrd attended Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, where he received a bachelor’s degree with a distinction in chemistry. He received his medical degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock and then completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in hematology and oncology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Byrd then completed a postdoctoral translational laboratory fellowship at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1997. After that, he stayed on as a laboratory faculty member at Johns Hopkins while continuing his clinical work at Walter Reed. In 2001, he moved to Columbus to join the faculty in Ohio State’s College of Medicine and the OSUCCC-James.

Despite his passion for clinical and translational research, Byrd’s favorite day of the week is Tuesday, when he spends eight to 12 hours in the clinic providing care for patients with CLL and other types of leukemia. He receives continuous support from his wife, Laura, and two sons, Edward and William. He is a passionate Ohio

State University and University of Arkansas football and basketball fan, and in his spare time, he enjoys freshwater fishing and avidly reading newspapers ( The New York TimesThe Columbus Dispatch), action fiction, history and

leadership books.


Christopher Dwyer

Christopher Dwyer, of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, is a patient advocate who has spent years offering hope, encouragement and strength to others who, like him, are living with CLL.

Many know Dwyer as the host of the Facebook group Bad to the Bone — Living With CLL and a top contributor to numerous online chat groups, including the Association of Cancer Online Resources CLL list and the CLL support group on the HealthUnlocked site. In addition, he founded the CLL Canada informational website. Through these forums, he offers emotional support, teaches about the disease and how to live well with CLL, reports breaking news about therapies and clinical trials, and answers questions about treatment options and medical procedures in a way that’s clear and understandable. His conversations with patients online and offline reflect exhaustive research into the current state of the field.

He volunteered at a board level for the CLL Patient Advocacy Group in Canada for many years and through those efforts helped many patients get the care they needed by advocating for new therapies and diagnostics. He was instrumental in launching CLL Live, an international, three-day, patient-focused conference.

An avid photographer, Dwyer often includes images of flowers with his communications, a reminder of the beauty in life that persists despite the challenges of CLL.

His work has changed the lives of countless patients and inspired some of them to become advocates themselves.


Brian Koffman, MDCM, DCFP, DABFM, MS Ed

Brian Koffman, M.D.C.M., a Canadian-born, McGill University-educated family doctor, educator and clinical professor turned leukemia patient, has dedicated himself to teaching and helping the CLL community since his own diagnosis in 2005. Koffman believes his dual status as a physician and a patient offers him a unique understanding that allows him to provide clear explanations of complex issues, advocate for his fellow CLL patients and inform his fellow health care providers. He has done this initially through his blog (bkoffman.blogspot.com) and later by co-founding and serving as chief medical officer and executive vice president of the 501(c)(3) CLL Society Inc. (cllsociety.org), which strives to meet the needs of CLL patients and their caregivers through education, support, advocacy and research.

Koffman lives in Claremont, California, with his wife of 44 years, Patty, and loves visiting with his four children and their spouses and his three granddaughters, especially when it involves camping in the woods or playing on the beach. When not traveling for the CLL Society, Koffman swims, surfs, cross-country skis, enjoys his vegan diet,

reads, writes and listens to the Beatles and jazz pianist Bill Evans.


Lisa Minkove

Lisa Minkove, of Issaquah, Washington, was a patient advocate with CLL who left a powerful legacy upon her death on April 9, 2018.

Minkove was diagnosed with CLL and renal cell carcinoma in 2010, when she was 54 years old. In 2005, she had been treated for, and recovered from, thyroid cancer.


She found support and strength by helping other patients. In 2013, she channeled that desire to connect with others about her illness into establishing an international Facebook support group for women with CLL, small lymphocytic leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In sharing her own experiences and up-to-date information about the diseases and their treatments, she had a talent for being frank about the difficulties of life with blood cancer yet weaving hope and humor into online discussions.

Minkove was fiercely dedicated to seeking and sharing the most current data, and that included doggedly researching answers to members’ questions. Furthermore, she reached out individually to many members who sought her support, even when she was very ill herself.

Today, there are more than 1,000 members of Minkove’s group sharing comfort, support and important research in an effort to seek the best outcomes.

A retired dental technician turned jewelry maker, Minkove was also engaged in other campaigns. She worked to encourage respect and awareness on behalf of women with premenstrual syndrome. She also served as a peer counselor at Bellevue College in Washington in the early 1990s.

The mother of two, Minkove enjoyed spending time with her children, her three grandchildren and her dog.




Sign In

Not a member? Sign up now!