JScreen Team

Who are we:

The JScreen program is coordinated through the Emory University, Department of Human Genetics in Atlanta, Georgia by a group of medical geneticists, genetic counselors and other professionals dedicated to the cause of preventing Jewish genetic diseases. Our partnerships with state-of-the-art laboratories, physicians and counselors across the country ensure that participants are correctly screened, understand their results and are equipped to make informed family-planning decisions..

Meet the JScreen Genetics Team:

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    Stephen Warren, PhD, FACMG

    Scientific Director

    Dr. Warren is the founding chair of the Department of Human Genetics at Emory and ranks among the top academic geneticists in the country. He is a founding fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics and an elected member of both the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Science, two of the nation’s highest honors in medicine and science. He received his PhD in human genetics from Michigan State University in 1981 and completed his postdoctoral training at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He was recruited to Emory in 1985 as an assistant professor of biochemistry with a joint appointment in the Department of Pediatrics. Currently, Dr. Warren is the William Patterson Timmie Professor of Human Genetics, Charles Howard Candler Chair in Human Genetics and professor of biochemistry and of pediatrics.

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    Michael Gambello, MD, PhD, FACMG

    Medical Director

    Dr. Gambello is the section chief of the division of medical genetics, coordinating the broad spectrum of genetic services at Emory University School of Medicine. He diagnoses and cares for children with birth defects and inborn errors of metabolism. He teaches medical students, genetic counseling students and medical residents while also serving as the program director for the medical genetics residency program. He completed his pediatric residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital/Washington University and clinical genetics training in the Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Medical Genetics Residency Program. He spent two postdoctoral years at University of California, San Diego. His first faculty position was at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston in the division of medical genetics/department of pediatrics. He moved to Emory as section chief in May 2012.

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    Jessica B. Spencer, MD, MSc

    Director, Emory Reproductive Center

    Dr. Spencer is the director of the Reproductive Endocrinology Division and Fellowship in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Emory University. She attended the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University in Israel and completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She then completed a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and a Masters in Clinical Research at Emory before joining the faculty in 2008. She is board-certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Her research interests include premature ovarian insufficiency in girls and women with Classic Galactosemia, Fragile X premutation and in cancer survivors. She sees patients at the Emory Reproductive Center who need help getting pregnant or would benefit from advanced reproductive technologies including intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF) and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).

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    Karen Grinzaid, MS, CGC, CCRC

    Executive Director

    Ms. Grinzaid is Executive Director of the JScreen program. She is an Instructor in Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Human Genetics where she teaches and mentors students in the Masters in Genetic Counseling program. She received her master’s degree in human genetics from Sarah Lawrence College in 1984 and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 1987 and by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals in 2007. Since joining the Emory Division of Medical Genetics in 1986, Ms. Grinzaid has specialized in multiple program areas including prenatal, pediatric and adult genetic counseling, newborn screening, Jewish genetic disease carrier screening and lysosomal storage disease clinical care and research. Prior to launch of the JScreen program, she served as program leader for pediatric/adult genetic counseling services and for the Jewish genetic disease screening program at Emory.

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    Felicia Mayer, MSEd, LPC

    Director of Operations

    Ms. Mayer is Director of Operations for the JScreen program, responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the program. Prior to joining JScreen, Ms. Mayer worked with several non-profit organizations in Atlanta as a Grant Consultant. Before moving to Atlanta in 2012, Ms. Mayer spent thirteen years at Family Counseling Services of Greater Miami where she worked her way up from being a mental health counselor to serving as the organization’s Chief Executive Officer. Previous to her years in the mental health field, Ms. Mayer served as a Business Manager at the University of Miami. Ms. Mayer received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Tulane University, and her master’s degree in mental health counseling from the University of Miami.

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    Melanie Hardy, MS, MS, LCGC

    Assistant Director, Genetic Counseling Services

    Ms. Hardy is a genetic counselor for the Jscreen program. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Michigan State University in 1998 and followed with a 9-year career as a high school biology, chemistry and forensics teacher. She received a master’s degree in biology from Georgia Southern University in 2009 and a master’s degree in genetic counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2011. She was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2012. Before joining the JScreen team, Ms. Hardy worked as a prenatal genetic counselor in a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialty clinic in Richmond, VA. Her professional interests include community outreach and education, mentorship of young professionals and enhancement of the health-care experience. In 2014, she was awarded the New Leader Award by the National Society of Genetic Counselors for involvement in a wide array of professional activities.

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    Estie Rose, MS, CGC

    Genetic Counselor

    Ms. Rose is a genetic counselor and Outreach Coordinator for the JScreen program. Prior to joining the JScreen team, Ms. Rose held a clinical position as genetic counselor at the Montefiore Medical Center, where she focused her practice on reproductive and cancer genetics. She also served as instructor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and was an integral part of its Program for Jewish Genetic Health. Ms. Rose has a special interest in community education and outreach, and is proud to be a resource for individuals of her own community who are facing genetic health issues. Ms. Rose received her bachelor’s degree from Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University and her master’s degree in genetic counseling from the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She has been certified as a genetic counselor by the American Board of Genetic Counseling since 2010.

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    Hillary Kener

    Assistant Director, Outreach and Marketing

    Ms. Kener is an Outreach Coordinator for the JScreen program. She is creating awareness around the importance of genetic screening in multiple regions. Ms. Kener received her bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida where she majored in psychology. She then attended business school at Johns Hopkins University, where she earned her master’s degree. Her concentration on marketing, and experience working with global media and health-care firms, has given her a broad business background. She is a published author, and is very active in multiple charitable organizations, as she values community involvement. She has done multiple pro bono marketing projects for local charter schools and non-profits.

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    Rachael Gates

    Project Coordinator

    Ms. Gates is Project Coordinator for the JScreen program, responsible for overseeing the daily administrative and operational tasks. Prior to JScreen, Ms. Gates was Research Associate at the Atlanta Business Chronicle. In 2002, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Georgia State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, management. She received her MBA from Georgia State in 2006. Ms. Gates is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and Beta Gamma Sigma, and a recipient of The Claire Hammond Diercks Scholarship. She is active in her neighborhood association, Volunteer! Decatur, the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the Jewish interfaith community.

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    Dara Hawkins

    Administrative Assistant

    Ms. Hawkins is an Administrative Assistant for the JScreen program, responsible for the daily administrative and operational tasks. Prior to JScreen, Ms. Hawkins was Office Manager at the Associated Colleges of the South, an Emory University affiliate, for 18 years. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Georgia State University. Her favorite activities are watching sports, listening to music and spending time with her husband and two dogs.

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    Robert W. “Bob” Clark

    Programmer

    Mr. Clark is the programmer behind the applications supporting the JScreen staff operations. He has many years of experience programming in multiple programming languages and scripting environments. His experience includes real-time dependent applications in the telecommunications industry, engineering applications in the power generation industry, banking and financial industry experience, and most recently, health care. In addition to his programming expertise, Mr. Clark also has project management and process improvement experience, plus self-paced training and technical methods and procedures development capabilities.

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    Paul M. Fernhoff, MD, FAAP, FACMG

    In Memoriam

    Dr. Fernhoff joined the Emory University School of Medicine faculty in 1978 and worked tirelessly over the next 32 years providing care for children, adults and families with genetic diseases. He was an excellent diagnostician but never lost sight of the need for effective treatments and disease prevention programs. He was intimately involved with Georgia’s Newborn Screening Program. Dr. Fernhoff was medical director of Emory’s Lysosomal Storage Disease Center and was principal investigator for over 20 clinical trials to advance therapies for these conditions. He served as Medical Director of the Pediatric Program of Hospice Atlanta and worked closely with the March of Dimes. His focus on disease prevention and his commitment to the Jewish community led to Emory’s involvement the local Atlanta Jewish Gene Screen program (2010-2012) where he served as medical director. Dr. Fernhoff died unexpectedly in 2011. We are proud to help fulfill his dream of preventing Jewish genetic diseases through the JScreen program.

Meet the JScreen Community Advisory Board

Larry Smith, Chairman of the Board

Mr. Smith has experience in retail, health care and all aspects of the wholesale financing business. Mr. Smith worked at The Home Depot for 19 years, first as the company's Senior Vice President and General Counsel and later as Senior Vice President-Executive Services. In 2004, Mr. Smith became Founder and Chairman of GreenSky Financial, a company offering credit card and credit facilities in business to business and business to consumer transactions. Recently, Mr. Smith has been consulting with a large Podiatrist group. Mr. Smith is an active member of the community and serves as a Board of Trustee at The Marcus Foundation and is a board member of IFF, an organization funding pediatric brain cancer research. He has served on the Board of Trustees of the Devereux Foundation and is the past chairman of the Devereux Georgia Advisory Board. Mr. Smith is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut and received his law degree from Brooklyn Law School in New York.

Joel Babbit

Mr. Babbit is CEO of Mother Nature Network (MNN), an online network for environmental and social responsibility news and information. Prior to launching MNN in 2009 with Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell, Mr. Babbit spent more than 25 years in the advertising and public relations industry. He co-founded and served as CEO of Babbit and Reiman Advertising (acquired by Gold Greenlees Trott) and 360 (acquired by WPP’s Grey Global Group). His prior experience also includes serving as President of WPP’s GCI. He began his career at McCann-Erickson. Following Atlanta’s selection as host city for the 1996 Summer Olympics, Mr. Babbit took a leave of absence from the private sector and was appointed the City’s first Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. He has been active in many civic and charitable organizations including Young Presidents Organization, The CDC Foundation, The Anti-Defamation League, The Atlanta History Center, and SafeAmerica and serves as a Director of Primerica and The National Health Museum. Mr. Babbit is a graduate of The University of Georgia.

Staci Brill

Ms. Brill has been a professional fundraiser for more than 13 years. She has helped raise more than $100 million for higher education, cultural, social service and religious organizations in New York City, Atlanta and Montgomery, Ala. Ms. Brill is currently working with the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) to achieve their Capital Campaign goal. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Western religions from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree in Jewish studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary. As an active community member, Ms. Brill has served as a Board member of the Truancy Intervention Project, co-chaired the Children's Museum of Atlanta's Annual Fundraising Event (A'Museum), the MJCCA's Habima Theater, and Door and Ladder Society, a teen philanthropy program.

Caroline and Randy Gold

The Gold’s lives changed dramatically in Aug. 2009 when their 18-month-old daughter was diagnosed with Mucolipidosis Type IV (ML4), a preventable Jewish Genetic Disease. Devastated and surprised because they were previously screened for Jewish Genetic Diseases, Mr. and Mrs. Gold learned that they were only screened for 8 of a possible 19 known diseases. They also learned that there is no standard testing panel. In response, the Golds founded Jewish Gene Screen to promote awareness among rabbis, doctors and young couples about the need for Jewish Genetic Disease screening. The Golds are frequent speakers on the topic, and their efforts have been recognized by numerous organizations and media nationally and internationally. Mr. and Mrs. Gold were named the Jewish Federations of North America 2011 Jewish Heroes. Ms. Gold, a software project manager for Thomson Reuters, and Mr. Gold, President and Chairman of AGH Certified Public Accountants and Business Advisors, also serve on the board of the ML4 Foundation.

Daniel L. Gordon

Mr. Gordon is President and Managing Member of Soleria Development Group. Prior to Soleria, Mr. Gordon was Director of Business Development for AMB Group – the management and support services arm for Arthur M. Blank’s diverse businesses – and Co-Founder and Vice President of the Atlanta Falcons Physical Therapy Centers. He has participated in numerous start-ups, acquisitions, and joint ventures ranging in size from several hundred thousand dollars to more than $5 billion. Mr. Gordon graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies and ran a successful real estate business during his college tenure. He later completed the One-Year MBA Program at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School concentrating in finance and real estate. He was awarded the Integrity Award by his peers at graduation and is a published author on leadership. He completed advanced course work at Harvard University and the London School of Economics as well.

Steve Levine

Mr. Levine currently serves as Regional Business Development Executive for Vertical Markets with Staples, specifically handling higher education and state governments. He is Immediate Past President of Hillels of Georgia and recently completed an almost four-year term on the Board of Trustees for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. Mr. Levine received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history and a certificate degree in Judaic studies from the State University of New York at Binghamton. He received his MBA from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University.

Saloni Firasta Vastani

Ms. Vastani currently serves as a Managing Partner at Intellisiv LLC. In her 20-year career, she has developed an expertise in business strategy, pricing and data analytics. Ms. Vastani has served in leadership roles at Fortune 100 companies such as American Airlines and Verizon. She is a published author and is a frequent speaker in university and industry events. She is passionate about community service and advises academic institutions on philanthropic initiatives. She also served in an advisory capacity as board member for Art and Culture initiatives at Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University and at Diabetes Leaders Forum at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ms. Vastani received her MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School with a focus on international finance.

Paul Wolpe

Dr. Wolpe is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics, the Raymond F. Schinazi Distinguished Research Chair in Jewish Bioethics, a Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Sociology, and the Director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University. Dr. Wolpe also serves as the first Senior Bioethicist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is Co-Editor of the American Journal of Bioethics and sits on the editorial boards of more than a dozen professional journals in medicine and ethics. He is a past President of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, a Fellow of the Hastings Center, and was the first National Bioethics Advisor to Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Considered one of the founders of the field of neuroethics, he also writes about other emerging technologies, such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, prosthetics and new reproductive technologies. Dr. Wolpe, a founder of the Academic Coalition for Jewish Bioethics and the Society for Jewish Ethics, co-authored the guide to Jewish end-of-life issues, Behoref Hayamim: In the Winter of Life.

Our Partners in Prevention

The JScreen team is grateful for our remarkable partners. Their support and guidance makes our work possible. Together we are stronger and smarter than we could be alone. Together, we can win this battle.

See a list of all our Partners

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