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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. She has initiated a cord blood education program, "La Doctora's Angels", which relies on nurses to spread information about public cord blood donation.

Asawari Bapat, M.D.

Info Health, Director Quality & Regulatory Affairs

Dr. Bapat is originally from India, where she earned a medical degree with specialty in pathology. Dr. Bapat is experienced in the complete operational management for stem cell facilities. She is expert in regulatory compliance, having worked with AABB, FACT, JCI, CAP, US FDA, and the Ministry of Health for various nationalities. Dr. Bapat held a chair on the committee that developed the cord blood banking regulations adopted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). She has worked for the family cord blood banks Cordlife, LifeCell, Cryo-Save Arabia and  Americord. Dr. Bapat has been based in Dubai for the past eight years, but does consulting on regulatory issues around the world. She has working proficiency in eight languages.

Vaijayantee Belle, M.D.

Tufts Medical Center, Neurologist

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 for children with cerebral palsy.  Participating children received either their own autologous stem cells, or sibling stem cells, or donated allogeneic stem cells from cord blood.   This clinical work in nearly 60 patients has provided strong indications of short term safety, and fairly consistent subjective benefits in patients. In 2010, Dr. Belle moved to the US to work in regenerative medicine research at Case Western Reserve University. She is currently a neurologist at Tufts Medical Center.

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

Advanced Cell Therapy Lab at Yale University, Director

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 has worked at the Clinical Cell and Vaccine Production Facility of the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently Director of the Cell Therapy Laboratory at Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale University. Dr. Bersenev is very well known in the cell therapy community for his blogs, Hematopoieis, and StemCellAssays.  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.

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 has spent six 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.

Chris Goodman, M.S.

Virgin Health Bank, Director

Chris Goodman is currently the Director of Virgin Health Bank, guiding 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.  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 trials 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 has served 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/BeTheMatch® network, and is also the Medical Director of CORD:USE, a company that offers both public and private/family cord blood banking. She has co-chaired the NMDP Cord Blood Committee and been a member of the HRSA Advisory Council on Blood Stem Cell Transplantation.  Dr. Kurtzberg is currently the founding President of the Cord Blood Association.  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. 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 J. Mathew, Ph.D.

BioLife Solutions Inc., Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer

Dr. Mathew was part of the founding team of BioLife Solutions, Inc., and is a co-developer of BioLife’s biopreservation media solutions. He is a co-inventor on multiple issued and pending patents related to methods, devices, and formulations for the preservation of cells, tissues, and organs. He holds a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences within the Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Program from Binghamton University and a B.S. in Microbiology from Cornell University. Dr. Mathew has been researching low temperature biopreservation since 1994, and his studies contributed to the development of BioLife’s current commercial HypoThermosol® and CryoStor® product platforms and intellectual property foundation.  Dr. Mathew has been BioLife’s Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer since February 2011. Dr. Mathew is currently active in, or previously a member of, AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks), BEST (the Biomedical Excellence for Safer Transfusion collaborative), the International Society for Cell Therapy (ISCT), the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM), 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. Dr. Mathew is a member of, the Board of Directors, and Advisory Panel, of the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, the Scientific Advisory Board of HemaCare Corporation, the founding Board of Directors of the Cord Blood Association, the NIST-AMTech National Cell Manufacturing Consortium, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Clinical Advisory Panel, and the Scientific Advisory Board of SAVSU Technologies. Dr. Mathew has obtained UCLA Corporate Governance Program Certification.

Roger Mrowiec, Ph.D.

Community Blood Services, Scientific Director of the Stem Cell Laboratory

Dr. Mrowiec oversees cord blood collection, processing, and storage for both public and private banking programs at Community Blood Services, a subsidiary of Blood Systems Inc. He also participates in research partnerships with other organizations to make stem cells from cord blood and other perinatal tissues more widely available to patients in need of therapy. Dr. Mrowiec is integral to the laboratory's compliance with accreditation standards, participation in the NMDP bank network, and the preparation of an FDA BLA submission. Dr. Mrowiec is a member of: American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), International Society for Hematotherapy and Graft Engineering (ISHAGE), New Jersey Society of Blood Bank Professionals, Perinatal Stem Cell Society, Cord Blood Association, and is former president of the Polish Society of Hematology and Transfusiology, Warsaw Division. Dr. Mrowiec is currently on the advisory board of PBKM. Previously, Dr. Mrowiec was assistant professor with the Dept. of Oncology at Montefiore Medical Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City  (1991-1996); and an assistant professor at the Institute of Hematology in Warsaw, Poland (1982-1993). Dr. Mrowiec received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the Medical University of Bialystok, Poland. His main scientific interest is the cryopreservation and storage of blood cells.

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.

Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, Parent Educator

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.  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.