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Karis Mae Heapy Hughes

In 2009, the Heapy Hughes Foundation was formed to continue the legacy of Karis Hughes and to support like-minded, passionate scientists in their quest for advancing medicine.


At the young age of 34, Karis moved on from this world after her year-long battle with cancer. Born in 1974, Karis was raised in Minnesota where she eventually attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul to study Food Science and Nutrition. After graduating, her passion for science kept her at the University of Minnesota working in various areas of research including genetics and immunology.


In 2003, Karis moved to Dallas, Texas, where she completed her Masters’ in Biotechnology at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). Following the completion of her studies at UTD, Karis continued to follow her scientific passion for genetics and immunology by studying genes related to Lupus for her doctoral studies under the guidance of Dr. Ward Wakeland in the Department of Immunology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas (UTSW). While approaching her Ph.D. qualifying exam, Karis was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).


Our Directors

Gareth Hughes, PhD

Dr. Hughes has a passion for science and for helping others pursue their dreams. His startup consulting firm, Caizio, assists inventors and entrepreneurs in helping commercialize early-stage medical technologies.


Dianne Heapy, MA, ND

Dianne Heapy is Karis’ mother sharing her passion and compassion for helping others. She is a mental health professional, advocating in the community for social justice and equality. She believes quality of life is to be available for all people. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Bay Area Mental Health in Washburn, Wisconsin.


Martyn Hughes, MBA

Martyn Hughes has worked in the medical industry since 1998 with an educational background in hospital administration and a Masters in Business Administration. Focusing on introducing new technologies to market, Martyn currently works for a cancer diagnostic firm, Agendia, who develop genomic assays for breast and colon cancer patients.


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