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: 2012-2015)

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: 2012-2015)

Brenda Finucane, MS, CGC

Brenda FinucaneBrenda Finucane, MS, CGC, is a certified genetic counselor who has had a long career at Elwyn, a large, nonprofit human services organization near Philadelphia. In 2013, she will be taking a position at Geisinger Health System's new Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute in Lewisburg, PA. Ms. Finucane is widely published and has gained international recognition for her expertise in the behavioral and cognitive manifestations of genetic syndromes. She serves on the scientific advisory committees of several genetics support organizations and is the 2012 president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors. She is a co-founder of PRISMS and has a particular interest in school and vocational issues for people with developmental disabilities. (PAB term: 2014-2017)

Barbara Haas-Givler, MEd, BCBA

Barbara Haas-GivlerElwyn Training & Research Institute, Elwyn, PA
Barbara Haas-Givler works as a Behavior Specialist and teacher for school districts in the Allentown, PA area. Ms. Haas-Givler also serves as a consultant to genetic Services at Elwyn, Inc. She has over 35 years of experience in special education, serving in many different capacities over the course of her career, including classroom teacher, administrator, educational consultant, and behavior specialist. Ms. Haas-Givler 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: 2012-2015)

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: 2012-2015)

Gonzalo Laje, MD

Dr. Gonzalo LajeBehavioral Medicine Associates, LLC, Washington, DC
Gonzalo Laje is a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist who has focused much of his attention on the pharmacological treatments of behaviors associated with Smith-Magenis Syndrome. He is the director of Washington Behavioral Medicine Associates, LLC and co-founder of the Maryland Institute for Neuroscience and Development. Dr. Laje also maintains a private practice, specializing in pharmacogenetics, psychopharmacological treatment and consultation of mood and anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and psychiatric management of genetic disorders. As a result of this work, he continues to drive the research for pinpointing better medications for treating behavioral issues associated with SMS, while championing the need for more awareness, especially in the mental health professional community. (PAB term: 2012-2015)

Christine Brennan, MA CCC-SLP

Christine BrennanNorthwestern University, Evanston, IL
Christine Brennan is a speech-language pathologist who runs a private clinic for children and adults with communication difficulties. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University in the Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders with a focus on developmental cognitive neuroscience. With over 20 years experience working with children and adults with disabilities (including those with SMS), Ms. Brennan is interested in conducting research that supports and extends current clinical practice. Her current research utilizes neuroimaging methods such as fMRI to learn how the brain processes speech and language. In 2009-2011, she was a recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Institutional Training Grant from the NIDCD. She aims to earn her PhD by summer 2013. (PAB term: 2012-2015)

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

Rebecca FosterSt. Louis Children's Hospital, Department of Psychology, St. Louis, MO
Dr. Rebecca Foster is a licensed pediatric psychologist. Dr. Foster's research, clinical, 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, risk-taking behaviors, and self-efficacy development. Recent work in SMS has focused on identifying and meeting caregiver/parent and typically-developing sibling needs, with a concentration on benefit-finding and adaptive coping across the lifespan. (PAB term: 2014-2017)

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