Meet the Staff

Frances Verter, Ph.D.

Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, Founder & Director

Frances Verter founded the Parent's Guide to Cord Blood in 1998 in memory of her daughter Shai. She started her career as a research scientist, earning a B.S. in physics from Brooklyn College and a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Princeton University. Her life changed course unexpectedly when her daughter Shai was diagnosed with cancer (see Shai's Story). The photo to the left shows Frances with Shai in Sept. 1994. As Shai's mother, Frances learned to be a patient advocate in order to take better care of her child. She found that her training as a scientist enabled her to review medical research on Shai's diagnosis and seek out treatment from the best doctors and the best hospitals. After Shai passed away, Frances went on to have more children and decided to bank their cord blood privately. The effort of investigating the cord blood banks available at that time led to the formation of the Parent's Guide to Cord Blood website in 1998. For many years the website was a community service that Frances did on the side of her day job at NASA. But gradually, that side began swallowing the rest of her life. She decided in 2006 to try to make a career out the project, and in 2007 incorporated as a non-profit foundation. Since then, she has thrown herself even deeper into following everything about cord blood, from education for expectant parents to the use of cord blood in clinical trials. She regularly attends conferences, gives talks, and publishes articles. She is LinkedIn to professionals around the world. Frances Verter supports both public donation and family banking of cord blood, depending on the circumstances of the family.

Pedro Silva Couto

Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, Consultant

Pedro Silva Couto joined the Foundation to support the development of our first He received his masters degree in biological engineering from Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) in Lisboa, Portugal. For his Master thesis he worked at Crioestaminal S.A., the largest stem cell bank in Portugal. His thesis examined the laboratory procedures for isolating and storing mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) from the human umbilical cord - which procedures are better for cell counts, for cost control, or for quality control? He has contributed an article to our newsletter on this topic. Data analysis about cord blood banking is a personal passion for Pedro. He is a huge fan of the stem cells and regenerative medicine field - including trends, laboratory research, policies and regulatory affairs.  Pedro's interests also include piano and choir singing, judo and soccer. 

Lizette Dunay

Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, Parent Educator

Lizette is a co-founder of Cure CP.  She has 15 years of experience in the medical and biologics field in a sales and business development capacity. She spent the past 6 years as a regional manager for a hybrid (both public and private storage) cord blood bank. Lizette helped found Cure CP in 2010 when she encountered many closed doors in her quest to have her son's cerebral palsy (CP) treated with his own bone marrow stem cells. Her belief in the science of regenerative medicine, coupled with a desire to make life easier for her son and others with cerebral palsy, is what drove her to start Cure CP. Cure CP is the only parent-led non-profit in the USA that is 100% dedicated to funding CP research. Currently Cure CP has helped fund three clinical trials in the US for children with cerebral palsy. Lizette is a graduate of the University of Florida where she received her B.A. in Economics and a minor in Spanish. Lizette's skill sets combine knowledge of both cord blood donation and family storage, the personal perspective as a mother of a child with disabilities, efforts in patient advocacy, and familiarity with clinical trials. She is uniquely qualified to help others looking to make cord blood healthcare decisions for their family. Lizette is also fluent in Spanish. She lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband and two children.