Meet the Professional Advisory Board

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Sarah Elsea, PhD, PAB Chair

Dr. Sarah ElseaBaylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Sarah Elsea is an Associate Professor of Molecular and Human Genetics and Director of the Biochemical Genetics Laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine. She is a board certified biochemical geneticist by the American Board of Medical Genetics. Dr. Elsea is an educator, training students at all levels, including high school, college, graduate, medical, and postgraduate students. She also provides clinical consultations and focuses her research efforts toward characterizing Smith-Magenis syndrome and related genetic disorders. Dr. Elsea's lab identified RAI1 as the causative gene for SMS and has targeted research efforts toward understanding the function of RAI1, particularly in the role of RAI1 in circadian rhythm and obesity. Her more recent work assesses caregiver and sibling concerns in families of children with developmental disabilities.(PAB term: 2016-2018)

Ann C.M. Smith, MA, DSc (Hon), CGC, PAB Chair Emeritus

Ann C.M. SmithNational Human Genome Research Institute
National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD

Ann Smith is a certified genetic counselor and internationally recognized leader in the field of medical genetics and genetic counseling. Ann Smith works as a senior genetic counselor under contract to the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) in the Office of the Clinical Director, dividing her time between clinical and research activities. As Principal Investigator of the natural history study (protocol 01-HG-0109) of Smith-Magenis Syndrome, she heads the multidisciplinary team of basic science clinical researchers who work collaboratively on SMS at the NIH.(PAB term: 2016-2018)

Brenda Finucane, MS, LGC

Brenda FinucaneGeisinger's Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute, Lewisburg, PA
Brenda Finucane is a licensed genetic counselor and the Associate Director of the Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute of Geisinger Health System in Lewisburg, PA. Ms. Finucane has a particular interest in Smith-Magenis and other genetic syndromes that result in complex intellectual and neuropsychological symptoms. She has served on the boards of directors of several syndrome support organizations, and in 1993, she co-founded PRISMS, the international support organization for Smith-Magenis Syndrome. Ms. Finucane is widely published and is also a past president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors.(PAB term: 2014-2017)

Barbara Haas-Givler, MEd, BCBA

Barbara Haas-GivlerGeisinger's Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute, Lewisburg, PA
Barbara Haas-Givler is a board certified behavior analyst and Director of Education & Behavioral Outreach at Geisinger's Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute in Lewisburg, PA. Ms. Haas-Givler has extensive experience in special education, serving in many different capacities over the course of her career, including classroom teacher, administrator, educational consultant, behavior analyst, and research associate for clinical pharmaceutical trials. Ms. Haas-Givler frequently presents at local and national conferences and provides consultations and trainings on strategies to support students with genetic syndromes. She has co-authored several publications on topics related to genetic syndromes, including frequently cited articles on the educational and behavioral manifestations of Smith-Magenis syndrome.(PAB term: 2016-2018)

Kerry Boyd, MD, FRCPC

Dr. Kerry BoydBethesda Services, Ontario, Canada
Dr. Kerry Boyd is a psychiatrist who has dedicated her career to the field of developmental disabilities across the lifespan. She has been working with people with SMS for over 15 years and has been privileged to be affiliated with PRISMS since 2008. She is an Associate Clinical Professor for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University. She is a clinician and Chief Clinical Officer for Bethesda. She also works with the Autism Spectrum Disorder Service at McMaster Children's Hospital.(PAB term: 2014-2017)

Andrea Gropman, MD

Dr. Andrea GropmanChildren's National Medical Center, Washington, DC
Andrea Gropman is a child neurologist and clinical geneticist at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, and Chief of Developmental Disabilities and Neurogenetics at CNMC. She is also Principal Investigator, at Children's Research Institute Center for Neuroscience Research (CNR). Dr. Gropman specializes in neurogenetics, with a focus on mitochondrial disorders and Smith-Magenis Syndrome.(PAB term: 2016-2018)

Christine Brennan, MA CCC-SLP

Christine BrennanNorthwestern University, Evanston, IL
Dr. Christine Brennan, MA CCC-SLP, is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is a developmental cognitive neuroscientist and speech-language pathologist. Dr. Brennan is the director of the ANCAR Lab (Applied Neuroscience for Communication and Reading) at the University of Colorado, Boulder. As a speech-language pathologist, Dr. Brennan has worked with several children with SMS. Recently, Dr. Brennan has begun to design and present PRISMS conference talks specifically at adolescents and adults with SMS. While Dr. Brennan currently resides in Boulder, CO, she continues to own a private practice in Illinois, which continues to provide treatment services to children with SMS. Dr. Brennan currently teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She earned her BA from Southern Connecticut State University and her PhD and MA from Northwestern University.(PAB term: 2016-2018)

Jane Charles, MD

Dr. Jane CharlesMedical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
Dr. Jane Charles is a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. Dr. Charles is an active clinician, researcher, and educator. Her areas of specialization are in the fields of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), intellectual disabilities, and genetic disorders. She provides developmental follow up and medication management for comorbid behavioral disorders for children into adulthood. Dr. Charles has received research funding as the principal investigator, or co-Investigator for a variety of grants exploring issues related to developmental disabilities including investigating the prevalence of ASD and Fragile X as part of the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network.(PAB term: 2014-2017)

Rebecca Foster, PhD

imgBFosterSt. Louis Children's Hospital, Department of Psychology, St. Louis, MO
Rebecca Foster is a licensed pediatric psychologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital/Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. Dr. Foster’s clinical, research, and teaching efforts emphasize the promotion of psychosocial well-being and quality of life among medically complex pediatric populations, examining family adaptation and caregiver well-being within the context of chronic illness and/or neurodevelopmental disorders, and addressing adolescent and young adult health behavior and self-efficacy development. Recent work in SMS has focused on identifying and meeting caregiver/parent and typically-developing sibling psychosocial needs, with a concentration on benefit-finding and adaptive coping across the lifespan.(PAB term: 2014-2017)

Santhosh Girirajan, MD

Dr. Santosh GirirajanPennsylvania State University, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Santhosh Girirajan, MBBS, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Anthropology at Penn State. A physician by training, Dr. Girirajan obtained his medical degree from Bangalore University and a PhD in human genetics from the Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. During his graduate studies in the lab of Dr. Sarah Elsea, Dr. Girirajan performed human genetics research to identify and characterize genes responsible for Smith-Magenis syndrome. He performed postdoctoral training in the lab of Dr. Evan Eichler in the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington, studying the mechanisms and consequences of large genomic changes with particular relevance to human neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Girirajan joined Penn State as a faculty member in the summer of 2012. The primary focus of his current research is to understand the clinical and genetic heterogeneity of neurodevelopmental disorders with a specific focus on autism.(PAB term: 2016-2018)

 

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