Find Your People: Jodie Pope Morrison ’97 and Mary-Ellen Taplin ’82

Jodie Pope Morrison '97 and Mary-Ellen Taplin '82

Photo by Pat Piasecki

In 2009 Jodie Pope Morrison ’97 (left) and Mary-Ellen Taplin ’82 were attendees at an advisory board focused on development of a new therapeutic for prostate cancer. Jodie was at the time a vice president at Tokai Pharmaceuticals and Mary-Ellen a Dana-Farber Cancer Center researcher. As is not uncommon in the world of bio-pharmaceuticals and genitourinary oncology, Jodie and Mary-Ellen were the only women in the room. During a break, the conversation gravitated to the “who/what/when,” and they discovered they both went to Mount Holyoke. The two instantly felt connected. Jodie recalls being nervous during a presentation she gave later in the day and Mary-Ellen coming up to her after to tell her that she had succeeded in “putting her great Mount Holyoke presentation skills to use.”

Jodie is now the chief executive officer of Tokai, and Mary-Ellen is the first-ever female lead investigator for a Phase 3 prostate cancer trial. Together they have completed Phase 1 and 2 clinical testing of Tokai’s lead compound, galeterone, and launched the first targeted biomarker trial in advanced prostate cancer patients. Through their joint work they are globally advancing the precision medicine movement for prostate cancer patients.

Jodie and Mary-Ellen’s bond has translated into trust and a strong, productive relationship, both professional and personal. Between them they have four daughters—including Emily Carol ’11—to whom they assume great responsibility as role models. Serving as mentors in career and life choices is work that is paramount to them both and dovetails seamlessly with their shared Mount Holyoke-instilled values.

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