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Melissa Coleman PNI Foundation VP builds up the neurosciences at Pacific Neuroscience Institute
January 10, 2023

PNI Foundation VP Melissa Coleman Builds Up the Neurosciences

by Amelia Garrison

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With nearly two decades of nonprofit management and fundraising experience, Melissa B. Coleman, Esq., Vice President of the PNI Foundation (PNIF), is an expert at building programmatic research teams in support of the neurosciences.

The path to PNI

Coleman joined Pacific Neuroscience Institute® (PNI) in the spring of 2020, inspired by the warmth and hopeful spirit of one of PNI’s founders, Daniel F. Kelly, MD

Gliobastoma brain tumor clinical trials & research
Daniel Kelly, MD, and Santosh Kesari, MD, PhD,
with a patient at the Brain Tumor Center.

“Dr. Kelly was the opposite of what I was used to interacting with,” explained Coleman. “He was warm, engaging, and countered my assumption that all neuroscience diseases had bad outcomes. He presented hope and excitement around new treatments and prevention around the greatest and latest technology.”

With a background in expanding healthcare for underserved communities in greater Los Angeles, Coleman joined PNI to make a difference in community resources and treatment solutions. “I came to PNI because I was inspired by an organization that was making a mark and doing it well,” said Coleman.

Her passion for surfing, a new hobby that requires constant mental attention to the changing surfaces of waves, reflects her propensity for leadership and problem-solving. Since joining PNIF, Coleman has spearheaded several programs integral to the expansion of neurological care and treatment. These include the development of a robust Alzheimer’s and dementia research team funded by a generous gift from the Singleton family, and the development of the new Lifestyle Program.

Research for Alzheimer’s and dementia

The Memory Research Study Team at the
Pacific Brain Health Center.

In collaboration with key recruit Melanie Lampa, Director of Research Administration and Operations at PNIF, Coleman built the team infrastructure to develop central research services for all investigators of memory.

Since then, Jennifer Bramen, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, has built out the Neuroimaing Core, which provides neuroimaging-based biomarkers data for clinical trial research.

The Lifestyle Program

Coleman‘s most recent initiative, the Lifestyle Program at PNIF, launched in the fall of 2022. Led by Karen Miller, PhD, Senior Director of the Lifestyle Program, the program integrates a holistic lifestyle approach to maximizing brain health, with a core education and training curriculum in memory, nutrition, and exercise. 

With programs spanning from memory training education to lifestyle choices to optimize brain health, the Lifestyle Program offers solutions for memory concerns and a healthy future.

“We are addressing a need within the community for memory training and the prevention of cognitive decline. It’s also a revenue-producing program, meaning that it helps build additional programs, allowing PNI to bring free classes to underserved senior communities.

Melissa Coleman, Esq, Vice President of the PNI Foundation

Looking to the future

The PNI Foundation facilitates academic training, research, community involvement, and the mission of the PNI faculty. Supporting the vision of all PNI, the foundation is critical to the advancement of neuroscience research and treatment, explained Coleman.

Garni Barkhoudarian, MD, performs surgery in the OR.

“The PNI Foundation facilitates and supports the vision and mission of all these individual leaders at PNI, at the same time holding them accountable and making sure that they do what they set out to do,” Coleman said. 

Her vision for the future of PNIF is to continue to build research programs in the neurosciences through strategic development and donor support. 

“As a community, much of the support for our mission comes from grateful patients who are invested in our community and involved in moving the needle with us,” Coleman explained. 

She continued, “I hope to see PNI continue to grow in the research areas of memory, addiction treatment, behavioral health disorders, brain tumors, and hearing loss. I hope to push forward and expand community-based patient education.

For information about research collaborations, education, or training with PNI faculty, please contact:

Melissa B. Coleman, Esq.
Vice President, PNIF

More information: 424-465-1551

About Melissa B. Coleman, Esq.

Melissa Coleman

Melissa B. Coleman, Esq., is an accomplished and seasoned development executive with two decades of experience in nonprofit management fundraising, campaign strategy, planning and operations. She currently serves as Vice President of the Pacific Neuroscience Institute Foundation (PNIF) where she leads the strategic planning, programmatic development and fundraising efforts in support of the innovative neuroscience care, clinical trials, translational research and educational mission of the Pacific Neuroscience Institute. She also is responsible for the financial management of the Foundation and strategic oversight of PNIF communications and marketing

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About the Author

Amelia Garrison MPhil

Amelia Garrison

Amelia Garrison is the Marketing Specialist at Pacific Neuroscience Institute (PNI). Well versed in community outreach strategy and implementation, she leads the PNI blog, newsletter, and digital communications. Amelia oversees PNI's reputation management and community sponsorships.

Last updated: January 19th, 2023