Hyundai Hands on Hope Contest Again to Raise Money for Pediatric Cancer Research at Georgetown Lombardi

Hands on Hope summary graphic says "Hands on Hope, 50 Hours, $100,000"

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(January 24, 2020) Georgetown Lombardi has teamed up once again with the Washington Area Hyundai Dealers at the Washington Auto Show to help raise money for pediatric cancer research through the Hyundai Hands On Hope Contest.

The contest requires participants to remain in constant contact with a Hyundai vehicle over two days (with a few breaks), all with the hope of driving away in it at the conclusion of the event.

Six contestants — three from Georgetown Lombardi and three from Children’s National — will compete for a brand new 2020 Hyundai Venue for themselves over the 50-hour contest period. Additionally, $100,000 in pediatric cancer research grants will be awarded to Georgetown Lombardi and Children’s National. The winner’s home institution will receive a pediatric research grant for $60,000 from the Washington Area Hyundai dealers. The runner-up medical center will receive a pediatric cancer research grant for $40,000.

This year, Olivia Rebro, Emily Maisonet and Dana Hunter comprise “Team Georgetown Lombardi” at the event, which runs from 1 p.m. on Thursday, January 30, to 3 p.m. on Saturday, February 1. They took a moment away from their preparations to answer a few questions about themselves and their work.


Dana Hunter, Research Outreach and Assessment Associate (in Research Development Services)

Dana Hunter

How long have you worked at Georgetown Lombardi?
Almost two years.

Describe your day to day activities:
Luckily for me my day to day varies because I like to keep busy with multiple projects! I’m usually doing some mix of communications or training about research management at GUMC and Lombardi, guiding graduate students and postdocs through fellowship proposals, supporting National Science Foundation applications, or working on ways to keep improving proposal development and proposal success.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really enjoy working with the graduate students and postdocs. They usually come to me having never done a grant application before and often feel overwhelmed by the process. I see it as an opportunity to introduce them to grantsmanship, understand how research policies and procedures are there to support (not hinder), and prepare them to work well with research administrators in their future careers.

What led you to your position here at Georgetown Lombardi?
I worked on the federal side of grants programs and public affairs for about five years — after a while I knew it was time to get some new experience, and the academic side seemed the best place to do that. Having done a master’s at Georgetown a few years prior, it was one of the first places I looked for openings — as luck would have it RDS was looking for someone with a specific set of skills to fill a still-new, uniquely positioned role. In a way it feels like my academic and professional paths have come full circle!

What’s the one thing about your job that might surprise people?
The depth of knowledge and practice in the field of research administration — it’s not just paper pushing! Many of my colleagues and I have professional certifications. There are also several national and regional conferences where we share our expertise and learn from administrators from varying types of research institutions and sponsors. The U.S. model of research administration has heavily influenced how similar programs work abroad, so there’s a growing body of knowledge and expertise from our international colleagues. There’s also a lot of opportunity to do research on the field and present findings. Keeping up to date on the field and participating in professional development is especially critical now, given the increasing pressure to ensure that publicly funded research shows the taxpayers value for money and contributes not only to scientific advancement, but down the line social well-being and economic development.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I ride motorcycles (on and off road), work at an ice cream shop, help with cat rescue and fostering, and watch far too many British mystery series. I also accidentally joined a weightlifting team recently, so I’m adding that sport into the mix and hopefully will do my first amateur competition in the summer.

What’s your greatest achievement (personal or professional)?
I’d say it’s a tie between riding motorcycles (this past summer I took a two-week solo road trip) and being a cat mom to my two rescue cats, Marius and Danny. I definitely work so they can live their best/laziest lives!  

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned while working at Georgetown Lombardi?
Have some patience and be nice!


Emily Maisonet, Research Technician

Emily Maisonet

How long have you worked at Georgetown Lombardi?
I have worked at Georgetown Lombardi for almost two years. I joined in March 2018.

Describe your day to day activities:
I work in the Histopathology & Tissue Shared Resource, which provides a variety of services to aide translational research. My main role is to help with cohort identification and interpretive pathology review with a pathologist. I also assist with procurement, storage and distribution of various human specimen from our repositories. And on occasion I help with targeted special collections and clinical trials.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy learning something new every day, whether it’s through pathology reports, pathology slide review or new research studies.

What led you to your position here at Georgetown Lombardi?
I received my bachelor’s degree in biology from University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and shortly after started working in a cancer diagnostics lab. I knew I wanted to find a more research-focused job, so I searched and found an opportunity within Georgetown Lombardi.

What’s the one thing about your job that might surprise people?
That it requires a lot of coordination from many groups to procure human specimen. In order for tissue to be collected, we have to follow a number of critical procedures performed by specialized teams, responsible for obtaining consent, the surgical procedure, and surgical pathology. There are many moving parts, so good communication and teamwork are key for success.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy running and hiking with my dog. I also like to volunteer with the Child Life Unit at MGUH. I love helping out pediatric patients and their families who are facing difficult diagnoses and treatments.

What’s your greatest achievement (personal or professional)?
My greatest achievement so far has been running my first marathon. I ran the Marine Corps Marathon this past October, and I guess I loved it so much that I signed up for an ultramarathon.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned while working at Georgetown Lombardi?
One valuable lesson I’ve learned is to take advantage of opportunities offered at Georgetown. There are so many interesting lectures as well as networking events at your fingertips. Another lesson I’ve learned is to start each day with a positive attitude. Even the most impossible tasks can be achievable with the right mindset.


Olivia Rebro, Registered Nurse

Olivia Rebro

How long have you worked at Georgetown Lombardi?
Since November 2019

Describe your day to day activities:
I do port access and PIV placement, lab draws, chemotherapy, blood product transfusions, and medication infusions.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The continuity of care is my favorite part of this job. I get to know my patients and their families, and tailor care towards their specific needs.

What led you to your position here at Georgetown Lombardi?
I love my coworkers. We have such a wonderful team in the clinic. Everyone is passionate about working with our pediatric population and every day I feel like we are able to make a difference as a team.

What’s the one thing about your job that might surprise people?
How often I sing “Baby Shark” with my patients.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy running, hiking, yoga and baking. Anything that involves an outdoor adventure!

What’s your greatest achievement (personal or professional)? Graduating with my nursing degree. I’ve wanted to be a nurse since high school, so being able to finish my degree has provided me the opportunity to begin my career, and now I feel my future possibilities are endless.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned while working at Georgetown Lombardi?
This job has allowed me to learn what it means to walk with a patient from the beginning to an end of an illness, and all the stages in between. I’ve learned how to be a cheerleader and support system for my patients and their families as they battle chronic conditions.