The Co-Pilot Project (CPP) is an initiative that aims to address the significant deficit in high-quality neurosurgical and spine surgery training in Ukraine, a country of 45 million people in eastern Europe. Just as a co-pilot acts as another set of eyes and ears for the pilot, our mission is to send surgeons from North America to mentor and aid Ukrainian surgeons through difficult cases.
After an exploratory mission trip to Ukraine in August 2016, Dr. Tomycz and his colleagues are convinced that the best way to develop high-quality Ukrainian subspecialty surgical programs is to help train young surgeons through mentoring relationships. During the initial trip, Luke Tomycz was able to work with neurosurgeons in Kyiv for over a week, examining over 100 patients and performing multiple procedures. Dr. Tomycz was struck by the number of patients with complex neurovascular lesions, epilepsy, spinal deformities, and tumors of the brain and spine who either do not receive any treatment or undergo ineffectual and potentially dangerous operations with surgeons who often lack appropriate expertise.
The goal of this initiative is to raise the bar of neurosurgical training in Ukraine, providing high-quality care to countless Ukrainian patients in the process.
Dr. Luke Tomycz is the newest addition to the pediatric neurosurgical team at Dell Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Tomycz finished first in his high school class of over 200 students and attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA where he double-majored in biology and chemical engineering. He accepted the prestigious Dean’s Full-Tuition Scholarship to attend medical school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where he first developed an interest in neurosurgery. After medical school, he began his formal neurosurgical training at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN where he trained under the late Noel Tulipan, MD, a pioneer in fetal neurosurgery for myelomeningocele. During his seven-year residency, he spent two years obtaining an in-folded fellowship in endovascular surgery, becoming proficient in the treatment of aneurysms, AVMs, Moya-Moya syndrome, and complex dural AV fistulae of adults and children. After this, Dr. Tomycz spent an additional year at Seattle Children’s Hospital performing a large volume of complex epilepsy surgery with Jeff Ojemann, MD. Following an exhaustive job search, Dr.Tomycz was attracted to Austin as the city was in the process of launching a new medical school at the University of Texas.
Dr. Tomycz specializes in all aspects of pediatric neurosurgery including brain tumors, epilepsy, Chiari malformation, tethered cord syndrome, CSF shunting, and intracranial endoscopy. As one of the only dual-trained, pediatric and endovascular neurosurgeons in the country, he is particularly interested in Moya-Moya, brain aneurysms and AVMs, arteriovenous fistulae, and other complex neurovascular disorders in children as well as adults. His research interests include the use of engineering innovations to improve treatments for hydrocephalus and he has published on a wide variety of neurosurgical topics. Outside the operating room, Dr. Tomycz enjoys playing guitar and hiking in the mountains. He has travelled extensively to perform neurosurgery and take part in short-term medical mission work – in Cuba, Kenya, Honduras, Ecuador, and Ukraine.
Dr. Tomycz grew up with four grandparents who told stories of their youth and taught their grandchildren the language of their homeland – Ukraine. His parents were both born in refugee camps following the second world war, and came to this country in the early 1950s with virtually nothing. His father excelled in academics and went into medicine, and both Luke and his brother Nestor followed suit, pursuing a career in neurosurgery. During a long period of study and training that lasted more than 15 years, Luke resolved to return to the homeland of his grandparents and provide the kind of high quality care that children receive in the United States.
In 2014 at the peak of protests in the Maidan, Mariya joined several fellow Ukrainians living in New York City to create Razom, a young, energetic, and progressive start-up which seeks to amplify the voice of Ukraine to an American audience. An active member of the board, she is responsible for organizing cultural events as well as cooperating with government representatives, activists, and various civic groups and human rights organizations in support of Ukraine’s quest for democracy.
Mariya is also heavily involved with fundraising for Razom’s projects via crowdsourcing, charity events, and online petitions. After graduating from Penn State University with a BA in Advertising and Public Relations and a dual minor in Entrepreneurship and International Studies, Mariya spent over 5 years in Manhattan working within the content marketing industry. She believes in the enormous potential of dedicated volunteers around the world working to rebuild Ukraine one project at a time.
Director, writer and cinematographer with three completed award-winning shorts as well as a feature documentary in post-production. After starting his filmmaker career at 2009, Ruslan brings his skills in project management, process analysis and systems models (received during obtaining MA in cybernetics 2003-2008) and applies them to the creative thinking and artistic thought-processes of film. He also holds BA in Film and Television directing (from the Kyiv National University of theatre, cinema and television by Karpenko-Karyi).
“A chance to participate in The Co-Pilot project it’s an amazing opportunity to help others and to tell the story that will engage and inspire people around the world”
Mariana Magala was born in Lviv, Ukraine. She graduated from The University of Chicago in 2013 and holds a B.A. in Economics and Slavic Languages and Literature. Currently, Mariana is a Strategic Analytics Manager at Interline Brands (subsidiary of The Home Depot) in Jacksonville, Florida. She specializes in analytics, business strategy, and nonprofit development. Mariana was the co-chair of a pro-bono consulting group for nonprofits in Chicago for 3 years and is currently the treasurer for a young professionals group at MOSH (Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville).
Mariana joined Razom’s Neurosurgical initiative in 2016. She is very excited to collaborate with the team and develop the initiative into a highly successful program.