Advisory Panel

Afriye Amerson, M.D.

Amerson Women Health Care , Obstetrician

Dr. Afriye Amerson is an OB/Gyn who believes in "saving one life at a time through cord blood banking".  Dr. Amerson is  an assistant attending physician in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Hackensack University Medical Center, and since Jan. 2010 has her own private practice at Amerson Women Health Care in River Edge, New Jersey.  Dr. Amerson is also actively involved in media appearances and has spoken about cord blood banking in a number of venues.  She has appeared on local radio stations WRNJ, WOND, WTBQ, as well as the TV shows The Morning Show and The Montel Williams Show.  Dr. Amerson is writing a book of meditations on pregnancy.  She has initiated a cord blood education program, "La Doctora's Angels", which relies on nurses to spread information about public cord blood donation.

Vaijayantee Belle, M.D.

Case Western Reserve University, Research Fellow

Dr. Vaijayantee Belle is amongst the first ten women neurosurgeons trained in India and the first and only woman neurosurgeon from her city Pune. She was trained at one of the premier academic institutes of India, Christian Medical College Hospital, Vellore, where she served as teaching faculty. She then returned to her hometown and established a neurosurgical practice. She was the first neurosurgeon to undertake deep brain stimulation surgery for Parkinson’s disease in her state (outside Mumbai). She then served as chief neurosurgeon at S.P. Institute of Neuroscience, one of the few centers in rural India serving more than 20,000 neurological patients per year at extremely subsidized cost. There she established and directed a neurosurgery unit from 2004 to 2010, during which time she performed and supervised about 1500 neurosurgeries. In 2007, she undertook a clinical trial involving intra-spinal injection of adult stem cells in 10 patients having Spinal Cord Injury at Sahyadri Specialty Hospital, Pune. Encouraged by the results of this trial, she implemented minimally invasive clinical protocols using autologous bone marrow stem cells for various traumatic and neurodegenerative neurological conditions. Working with the leading Indian cord blood banking company, StemOne Biologicals, she initiated clinical protocols using cord blood stem cells for children with Cerebral Palsy.  Participating children with Cerebral Palsy received either their own autologous stem cells, or sibling stem cells, or donated allogeneic stem cells from cord blood.  The collaboration with StemOne Biologicals also initiated the use of umbilical cord derived mesenchymal stem cells for use in devastating neurological conditions like stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury. This clinical work in nearly 60 patients has provided strong indications of short term safety, and fairly consistent subjective benefits in patients. Since October 2010, Dr. Belle is working as post-doctoral research fellow at Case Western Reserve University. Her research work currently involves using mesenchymal stem cells for regeneration of tissues.

Alexey Bersenev, M.D., Ph.D.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Research Fellow

Dr. Alexey Bersenev was born and raised in Russia, where he received an M.D. in general surgery and a Ph.D. in transplantation.  He has continued his professional training in the US, first at Thomas Jefferson University, and then as a post-doctoral fellow at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).  His research has explored the genetic mechanisms of hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cell self-renewal and errors, in order to better understand the development of leukemia. He currently works as a Resource Technologist at the Clinical Cell and Vaccine Production Facility of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Bersenev is very well known in the cell therapy community for his blogs, which have become a resource and discussion focus for professionals in this field.  He is the author of Hematopoieis, http://hematopoiesis.info/, and StemCellAssays http://www.stemcellassays.com/.  Dr. Bersenev is constantly studying new research reports from around the world, and considering how they may impact the development of cellular therapy products, including  the applications of cord blood stem cells.

Cherie Daly, M.D.

SLD Consultancy, Director

Dr. Cherie Daly is a qualified medical practitioner from South Africa who has clinical experience in numerous fields, with a special interest in Psychiatry. She has over 9 years experience in the stem cell industry and has worked in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and currently Europe.  In the Middle East, Dr. Daly served as Executive Manager for Cryo-Save Arabia, where she was responsible for establishing and managing their cord blood laboratory in Dubai.  During her time in the Gulf Region, Dr. Daly lobbied at the governmental level and with key regional institutes to educate and introduce cord blood banking to expectant parents in a region where there was no such service.  In Singapore (2009 to end 2010), Dr. Daly served as the Group Medical Affairs Manager for CordLife, a company that is a leader in private cord blood banking in Asia, with laboratories in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, and India, plus an association with the two largest public/private cord blood banks in China.  She focused on establishing clinical trials for non-hematological indications in Asia.  In Europe (2011 to beginning 2013), Dr. Daly worked for Cryo-Save, Europe's largest family cord blood bank, as Group Medical Affairs Consultant.  Dr. Daly now lives in Denmark and is an independent consultant in the stem cell industry. Among others, she currently consults to the Danish stem cell bank StemCare, and the Asian cord blood bank, CordLife, in the role of Medical Affairs. She continues her work to push for utilization of cord blood in clinical treatments and to establish clinical trials.  Dr. Daly has spoken at numerous regional and international medical conferences, appeared on radio and television, and speaks to prospective parents on the benefits of cord blood banking.  Her passion is to provide accurate education for both healthcare professionals and parents, and to ensure that all expectant parents have the necessary tools to enable an educated choice when it comes to their options regarding their child’s cord blood.

Chris Goodman, M.S.

Virgin Health Bank, Director of Operations

Chris Goodman is currently the Director of Operations for Virgin Health Bank, managing their services in both the UK and Middle East.  He graduated from Hofstra University in 1994 with a Masters in Human Cytogenetics.  His first position in the cord blood industry was with Cord Blood Registry, where he eventually became their Director of Processing and Storage for both autologous and allogeneic umbilical cord blood stem cells.  Realizing the benefits of stem cells, and the need for better education and industry standardization, Goodman next became an inspector with the accreditation agency FACT.  He continues to actively work in accreditation standards with the agency AABB, both as an assessor and as a committee member serving on AABB’s Cellular Therapy Accreditation Program Unit.  In 2002, Goodman was recruited by Celgene to become the Director of Operations for their Cellular Therapeutic Division, including the family cord blood bank LifebankUSA.  This division pioneered the technology behind storage of stem cells from the placenta.  In 2008, Goodman was recruited by Roche to oversee their Detection and Chemical Assay development group for their Tissue Diagnostics Division, Ventana Medical Systems.  While there, he focused on the development of globally distributed CE-IVD diagnostic solutions for the analysis of tissue biopsies.  Then, in 2010, Goodman joined Virgin Health Bank.  Goodman is their designated individual to work with the Human Tissue Authority, a mandatory quality standard for cord blood banks operating in the UK.  Goodman's passion is networking with all stakeholders to bring better public education and industry regulation to the Middle East.

Joanne Kurtzberg, M.D.

Duke University Medical Center, Chief of Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation

Dr. Kurtzberg is the Chief of Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina.  Dr. Kurtzberg was the first physician in the United States to begin transplanting cord blood, in 1993.  Under her leadership, Duke university has performed over a thousand cord blood transplants and has pioneered new clinical applications for cord blood transplants.  They showed that allogeneic cord blood transplants can correct metabolic disorders, such as storage diseases, in young children.  They are currently conducting a trial on the use of autologous cord blood transfusions to treat Cerebral Palsy and Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy in young children.  Dr. Kurtzberg is also the Director of Cell and Tissue Therapies at the Duke Translational Medicine Institute (DTMI).  In addition to her clinical responsibilities, Dr. Kurtzberg serves the cord blood community in a number of leadership and committee positions.  Dr. Kurtzberg is the Director of the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank, a public bank at Duke University which participates in the NMDP network of cord blood banks.  She is a co-chair of the NMDP Cord Blood Committee, is on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT), and is on the HRSA Advisory Council on Blood Stem Cell Transplantation.  Dr. Kurtzberg is also the Medical Director of CORD:USE, a company that offers both public and private/family cord blood banking.  On top of all these responsibilities, Dr. Kurtzberg is never too busy to respond to inquiries from parents or patients.

S. Bonnie Liebers, MS CGC

Genetic Counseling Services, Founder & Director

After 25 years as a genetic counselor in hospital settings, Bonnie Liebers founded Genetic Counseling Services to offer her services directly to consumers. Ms. Liebers is not affiliated with any testing service or laboratory, but believes that consumers need guidance to navigate the rapidly expanding field of genetic testing. There are now several thousand genetic tests which have the potential to change the lives of many families. Yet there is a great need for caution in interpreting the tests that are available, as the majority of tests are not indicated for most individuals, while on the other hand it can be a challenge to find those individuals who should be tested. There is a natural synergy between consumer education on the topics of genetic testing and cord blood banking. Many families think they should store cord blood privately in case it is needed to treat diseases that seem to run in their family. Consumers need help to evaluate what is currently known about their genetic risk, as well as what can potentially be treated with cord blood therapies, and whether those therapies would actually use their own cord blood or would rely on donated cord blood. Ms. Liebers has Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and in Psychology from Syracuse University, and a Masters in Genetic Counseling from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. She is Board Certified in genetic counseling and her credentials include extensive clinical experience.

Irene Martini, Ph.D.

SmartBank s.r.l., Scientific Director

Dr. Martini is the co-founder and Scientific Director of Smart Bank s.r.l., a family cord blood bank based in Rome, Italy, which uses laboratory storage facilities at BioVault in the UK. She has worked as a post-PhD researcher at La Sapienza University Microbiology laboratory, and at the Virology laboratory of the Italian National Insititute of Health, ‘Instituto Superiore di Sanita’.  Dr Martini has also taken part in several European Union and World Health Organisation (WHO) international research projects in collaboration with the Institut Pasteur in Paris, exploiting her skills in Cellular Biology, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, Microbiology, and Immunology fields. She has more than fifteen years experience as a researcher, and has written several scientific publications as well as patent documents. As part of her work with Smart Bank, Dr Martini has appeared frequently on national television and radio to explain the benefits of cord blood storage. She also runs monthly courses for prospective parents on the potential benefits of storage, including the latest research developments, as well as courses for gynaecologists and mid-wives. She is currently collaborating with the Gaslini Institute on a project concerning perinatal solid cancer in children.  She has recently launched a web site, www.smartbank.tv, which presents information and videos about stem cells and their uses. Smart Bank advocates storage of cord blood both for the family and for the public via donation.  Their lab, BioVault, is the only bank in the UK which offers both kinds of storage. She has three children herself, and was able to save cord blood for the youngest.

Aby Mathew, Ph.D.

BioLife Solutions, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer

Dr. Mathew was part of the founding team of BioLife Solutions, where he is the Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.  He is an expert on methods, formulations, and devices for low temperature preservation of cells, tissues, and organs.  He has published several dozen papers, posters, and presentations on these topics and is a co-inventor on multiple patents.  Aby J. Mathew obtained his B.S. in Microbiology from Cornell University, and his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology Program of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton.  Dr. Mathew was part of the scientific team that linked cell death via apoptosis (programmed cell death) to exposure to hypothermic and/or freezing temperatures. These discoveries were integral to the development of BioLife’s improved intracellular-like biopreservation solutions, and also contributed to improvements in cryosurgical ablation of cancer. Dr. Mathew is currently active in, or previously a member of, the International Society for Cell Therapy (ISCT), AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks), BEST (the Biomedical Excellence for Safer Transfusion collaborative), Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS), Society for Cryobiology , International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER), American Society for Cell Biology, and the Society for In Vitro Biology.

Solomon Ofori-Acquah, Ph.D.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Associate Professor

Solomon Ofori-Acquah, PhD, is originally from Ghana, studied molecular genetics at King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of London, and conducts Hematology/Oncology research in the United States. When he first joined our Advisory Panel he was an assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Georgia. Dr. Ofori-Acquah studies the role of molecular genetics in disease susceptibility and progression. He has a special interest in the development of Sickle Cell disease and its management in the "post-genomic era", and has served the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA)  in several capacities. In 2013, Dr. Ofori-Acquah moved to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) to help form a new center of excellence for research into and treatment of Sickle Cell Disease. In the United States, one out of every 500 African-Americans are Sickle Cell carriers, but in many African nations over 20% of the population are carriers. Much of Dr. Ofori-Acquah's research is focused on acute chest syndrome, a complication of sickle cell disease, with the goal of developing a treatment to manage the lung ailment.

Jordan Perlow, M.D.

Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, Associate Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine

Jordan Perlow is an OB/Gyn at Phoenix Perinatal Associates in Arizona, as well as Associate Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center since 1992. He is a graduate of Northwestern Univ. Med. School and completed his OB/Gyn residency at Rush-Presbyterian St. Lukes Medical Center; both in Chicago. Dr. Perlow then did a fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the Univ. of California-Irvine.  He is Board Certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and the sub-specialty of Maternal-Fetal Medicine.  Dr. Perlow has published numerous papers in peer reviewed medical journals, though within the cord blood community he may be best known for his survey "Patient's Knowledge of Umbilical Cord Blood Banking".  Dr. Perlow reviews papers submitted for publication in Amer. J. Obstet. Gyn. as well as O&G.  He has been recognized with several professional awards and holds several academic appointments.  Dr. Perlow frequently grants media interviews and gives talks on subjects relating to women's health, pregnancy, cord blood banking, and newborn health.  Dr. Perlow is also very active as a volunteer for the March of Dimes and has participated in Medical Missions overseas.

Kim Petrella, R.N.

Christiana Hospital, Labor & Delivery Nurse

Kim Petrella is a Labor & Delivery Nurse in the Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware, and is a member of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN).  She gave a presentation at the 2007 annual AWHONN convention in Orlando, FL in 2007 on the implementation of a cord blood donation program at Christiana Hospital.  Mrs. Petrella specializes in educating medical professionals about the importance of saving cord blood.  She has advocated for public cord blood donation on behalf of the Brady Kohn Foundation.  Mrs. Petrella has had numerous speaking engagements about the about the power and future of cord blood stem cells.  In addition to medical professionals, she has spoken to medical students, nursing students, and high school students.   Most of all, she focuses her energies on empowering parents to save their baby's cord blood versus throwing it away.  Her efforts were recognized in Oct. 2007 by an award from Delaware Health and Social Services as one of the Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award winners in the state of Delaware.

Ian Rogers, Ph.D.

Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mt. Sinai Hospital, Associate Scientist and Assistant Professor

Dr. Rogers is an Associate Scientist and Assistant Professor at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mt. Sinai Hospital, in Toronto, Canada.  His research is focused on umbilical cord blood (UCB) stem cell biology, UCB stem cell expansion, and the development of UCB cell therapies for hematopoietic diseases, neural diseases, and type 1 diabetes.  It is his hope to bring UCB stem cell therapy from bench to bedside as a standard therapy for disease treatment.  In order for that to become a reality, the following hurdles must be overcome: 1) safety issues 2) sufficient cell numbers 3) easily accessible sources 4) efficient mode of delivery to the target organs and 5) demonstrated functional improvement after transplantation. The research in Dr. Rogers' laboratory aims to solve some of these problems.  They have established culture conditions which proliferate and maintain multipotent UCB stem cells.  They are currently examining the stability and predictability of the process, so that it can be used to produce clinically significant numbers of stem cells for therapeutic treatment.  Dr. Rogers is also a Scientific Founder of the largest family cord blood bank in Canada, Insception Biosciences. 

Mark Weiss, Ph.D.

Kansas State University School of Veterinary Medicine, Professor of Neuroscience

Dr. Weiss is a Professor of Neuroscience and Stem Cell Biology in the Dept. of Anatomy and Physiology at the Kansas State University School of Veterinary Medicine (KSUCVM).  Dr. Weiss, together with his colleagues Drs. Deryl Troyer, Duane Davis, and Kathy Mitchell, discovered that the matrix of the umbilical cord, also known as Wharton's Jelly, holds mesenchymal stromal cells which may differentiate along the lineages of bone, fat, cartilage and neurons.  Kansas State University has a patent on methods to harvest, grow, and store umbilical cord matrix stem cells and the use of matrix cells for therapy, tissue engineering, and biotechnology.  Dr. Weiss is one of four founders of the The Midwest Institute for Comparative Stem Cell Biology, and he is Associate Director of the  Terry C. Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research at KSU.  Currently, Dr. Weiss's laboratory is characterizing the role of human and animal umbilical cord matrix stem cells to reverse the behavioral deficits found in a rat model of Parkinson's disease.  Dr. Weiss is also a consultant for the Toucan Capital Corporation.