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Frances Verter, PhD

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 BS in physics from Brooklyn College and a PhD 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 Goddard Space Flight Center. But gradually, the cord blood 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, MSc

Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, Employee

Pedro Silva Couto joined the Foundation in 2014 to support the development of our first cordbloodindustryreport.org. He received his masters degree in biological engineering from Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) in Lisboa Portugal, and did his thesis work at Crioestaminal S.A. His thesis examined the laboratory procedures for isolating and storing mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) from the human umbilical cord - which procedures are better for cell counts, for cost control, or for quality control?  Since 2017 Pedro is working towards his PhD at University College London (UCL), where he is studying the expansion of MSC from adult and perinatal sources. Also since 2017 Pedro has been a co-founder of CellTrials.org, the most accurate and complete source of databases about advanced cell therapy clinical trials. Together, Pedro and Frances have co-authored several blogs and peer-reviewed publications about the cord blood banking industry and the statistics of clinical trials with cells from perinatal sources. Pedro is a huge fan of the stem cells and regenerative medicine field and has contributed to the outreach efforts of professional organizations such as AABB and ISCT.  Pedro's interests also include piano and choir singing, judo and soccer.

Kim Petrella, MSN, RNC-OB

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). Mrs. Petrella specializes in educating medical professionals about the importance of saving cord blood. She has had numerous speaking engagements 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. In May 2017 she received her MSN degree from Wilmington University.