When Wendy Chaite’s daughter was born with lymphatic disease and lymphedema, neither the medical profession nor researchers could provide the answers she sought on her daughter’s behalf. Rather than accept this situation, Wendy set out on a journey that would change history. Having built an extensive knowledge of the science of lymphatic disease, she engaged the research and medical community. Her passion first ignited their interest and, finally, their dedication.
As an attorney, Wendy served as a federal judicial law clerk, Wall Street corporate litigator, and adjunct professor at Pace University School of Law. However, in 1998, she would trade in that fast-paced world to found the Lymphatic Research Foundation (LRF), now renamed Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN). Since it’s beginning, she has worked tirelessly to put lymphatic research on the map. Her efforts, in conjunction with the team of scientists, organization supporters, and parent/patient advocates that she assembled, lead to remarkable successes including the establishment of the biennial Gordon Research Conference Series devoted to Molecular Mechanisms in Lymphatic Function and Disease; the publishing of Lymphatic Research and Biology—the first peer-reviewed journal in the field; the establishment of the first-ever Endowed Chair of Lymphatic Research and Medicine, which is at Stanford University); the creation of two-year postdoctoral fellowship awards to attract young scientists and clinicians from distinguished research centers around the world; and the establishing of a national lymphatic disease patient registry and tissue bank to stimulate research, support clinical trials and drug development. In summary, Wendy established and spearheaded a movement that resulted in over $20 million in private, public and in-kind support for lymphatic biology and disease research. Ms. Chaite’s past and present appointments include: Appointed to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Trans-NIH Coordinating Committee for Lymphatic Research (CCLR); Drug Information Association (DIA) Patient Engagement Fellow; DIA Co-Chair, Patient Engagement Community Legal Barriers Committee; NIH National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) Advisory Council; NIH Council of Public Representatives (COPR); COPR Liaison to the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director; NIH Office for Rare Diseases Research (ORDR) Study Section (Ad Hoc); NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Special Emphasis Panel (Ad Hoc); Executive Board Emeritus, Research!America (RA)
Wendy’s devotion and tenacity have changed the field of lymphatic research and will impact generations to come. Wendy left the board of directors in 2012, confident in the board’s ability to take full ownership of the organization’s mission. In 2013 the board of directors expanded the organization’s mission to become the Lymphatic Education and Research Network (LE&RN).
Whereas one person can inspire action that changes the world, success requires a community of supporters who bring unique contributions to the cause. It would be impossible to mention all those who played critical roles in the establishment of LE&RN. However, we recognize and thank all who did, and mention just a few here. With thanks to Saskia Thiadens, RN who nurtured the founder as she began her journey of forming this organization; to Dr. Stanley Rockson who had a direct hand in launching the first University Chair in lymphatics, Lymphatic Research and Biology—the premiere peer-reviewed journal in the field, the National Patient Registry & Tissue Bank, the Trans-NIH Coordinating Committee for Lymphatic Research, and who is the Founding Chair of the Scientific Medical Advisory Council; to Dottie Morris, who along with our Founder, established the Primary Lymphedema Action Network (PLAN) prior to our organization being incorporated, and presented the goals of the future organization to a panel at the National Institutes of Health. To the Slepian and Stoen families, whose generous support brought about the first post-doctoral research fellowship grants awarded in this field; to Jeff Barash, an original board member who used his skills as an attorney to address the legal issues of the new organization and to secure funding. Most importantly, we thank Melanie Chaite, who inspired the founding of this organization, and to the extended Chaite family who tirelessly nurtured its founding and growth. Finally, we thank the countless supporters who have selflessly given of their time, energy and resources throughout the years so that LE&RN could succeed at its mission.