FAST, the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics, is pleased to highlight Dr. Racha Halawi and Tami Hicks, two new members of the FAST Advisory Council (FAC). The FAC is a collaborative group of volunteers that contribute to the overall mission of FAST by bringing their expertise, including science, medicine, and education, to help support various initiatives of the organization. Dr. Racha Halawi and Tami Hicks join the FAST Advisory Council alongside Drs. Jim Daley, Joe D’Orazio, Terry Jo V. Bichell and Derek Matheson.
Dr. Racha Halawi is a hematologist and medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center and the mother to a 5-year-old daughter, Laila, who lives with Angelman syndrome. She is passionate about patient education. Dr. Halawi believes that patient education leads to improved outcomes. She encourages patients to raise their concerns and participate in shared decision-making. Dr. Halawi recognizes the importance of patient comfort in making important decisions regarding their treatment plans. In her role on the FAST Advisory Council, Dr. Halawi wants to provide the families, caregivers, therapists and teachers of those living with Angelman syndrome with expertise and easy-to-understand tools on the many complex research and scientific topics.
“I am excited to support FAST and the Angelman syndrome community by providing my expertise in important research and scientific initiatives tied to Angelman syndrome,” said Dr. Racha Halawi. “FAST continues to work tirelessly to bring effective therapeutics to all individuals living with Angelman syndrome. My focus is to provide the Angelman community with helpful explanations and information on the research and science, while continuing to support FAST’s mission wherever I can.”
Tami Hicks is the principal of Model Elementary School, the largest elementary school in the district, and the mother to a 21-year-old son, Ethan, who lives with Angelman syndrome. In 2021, Tami was honored as Elementary School Principal of the Year in her local district. Prior to her time at Model, Tami served as assistant principal and a teacher within her current district. Tami holds a Bachelor of Arts from IUSB in elementary education and teaching and a master’s degree in education from Indiana Wesleyan University. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in educational policy and leadership from Purdue University. Tami brings a unique perspective to education as a parent of an individual living with Angelman syndrome, a former K-8 teacher and a current administrator.
“After attending my first Gala a few years ago, I learned that FAST is so much more than the Gala. It is an organization committed to finding effective therapeutics for individuals living with Angelman syndrome. I was immediately hooked because I had the opportunity to hear firsthand from the FAST-funded scientists and researchers and, each year, they return to provide an update on how the FAST-funded science is evolving to find effective therapeutics.”
Hicks adds, “I am excited to join the FAST Advisory Council and support the FAST community. Every child is different and I want to be a resource on education for our loved ones with Angelman syndrome. A lot of parents have questions about their children entering school, including IEPs, interaction with other children at school, federal law for special education, and I look forward to providing them with this guidance.”
The role of the FAST Advisory Council is to further champion the overall mission of FAST, providing additional expertise in many vital areas while helping to disseminate all the work FAST is doing far and wide. The FAC volunteers their time to support the day-to-day of FAST through community guidance, thought leadership writing and assisting with new programs. The FAC is designed to support the Angelman syndrome community through communication and guidance while furnishing additional resources for FAST’s translational research agenda.