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Core Faculty

The Center’s Core Faculty work with the Director and Deputy Director to oversee and carry out the Center’s work. Its members are researchers with training in psychiatry, neurology, psychology, genetics, pediatrics, bioethics, public policy, epidemiology, law and genetic counseling.

Roy Alcalay, MD, MS
Roy Alcalay is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Taub Institute and the program director of the Movement Disorders Fellowship at the Columbia University Medical Center. His primary research work involves the genetics and the epidemiology of Parkinson’s disease.
He is a Brookdale Leadership in Aging fellow, and his research is supported by the NIH (K02 K02NS080915), the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, the Smart Foundation and the Michael J Fox Foundation.

Wendy Chung, MD, PhD
Wendy Chung is a clinical and molecular geneticist who will be coordinating the follow up studies of the babies born in the Wapner CNV study. She has extensive experience clinically characterizing children with CNVs and is the PI of the multicenter Simons VIP study characterizing participants with 16 p11.2 and 1q21 deletions and duplications. She also has extensive experience in recruitment, retention, and longitudinal characterization in genetic studies including NIH funded studies of congenital diaphragmatic hernia (R01 HD057036), congenital heart disease (U01 HL098163), and breast cancer (R01 CA159868). She has led many complex multicenter studies and currently chairs the NCI-funded Breast Cancer Family Registry and the NHLBI- funded Pediatric Cardiac Genomic Consortium. As an experienced prenatal and pediatric clinical geneticist and ELSI researcher, she is also highly experienced in working with parents of children with genetic variations, caring for the children as they grow up, and appreciating many of the common issues that arise for patients with genetic conditions.

Elizabeth Gross Cohn, RN, PhD
Elizabeth Gross Cohn is a faculty member in Columbia’s School of Nursing, and a Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Faculty Scholar in the effects of ELSI issues on health disparities in minority populations. She has published extensively on the inclusion of vulnerable minority populations in gene transfer and HIV vaccine trials. Her current work focuses on minority participation in genetic and epigenetic research. She is a founding member of the Communities of Harlem Health Revival, collaborates with Abyssinian Baptist Church on minority health, and is Associate Director of Research for the Hip Hop Public Education Center at Harlem Hospital.

Angela Christiano, PhD
Angelo Christiano is the Richard and Mildred Rhodebeck Professor of Dermatology and Professor of Genetics & Development at Columbia University Medical Center. The major focus of her research is the study of inherited skin and hair disorders in humans and mice, through a classical genetic approach including identification and phenotyping of disease families, genetic linkage, gene discovery and mutation analysis, and functional studies relating these findings to basic questions in epidermal biology. Her interests include transcriptional regulation of hair cycling and differentiation, the biology of cadherin-mediated cell adhesion junctions known as desmosomes, and the morphogenesis epidermal appendages such as hair and teeth. A long-range goal of the research is to develop genetic and cell-based therapies for skin and hair diseases through understanding disease pathogenesis.

Abby Fyer, MD
Abby Fyer is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia Medical School. She is additionally the Director of the Anxiety Genetics Unit for the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Jill Goldman, MS, MPhil, CGC
Jill S Goldman is a genetic counselorat the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University Medical Center. She counsels and does research on hereditary dementias, movement disorders, and other adult neurogenetic conditions. Her particular areas of interest are atypical dementias, especially frontotemporal dementia, and the ethical aspects of genetic testing and genetic research. In addition to her clinical work, Goldman is very interested in improving the quality of life for families living with dementia. Goldman leads several support groups in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Association: a group for Early-stage dementia patients meeting at the Metropolitan Museum and a group for frontotemporal dementia caregivers. She also directs a program entitled “A Friend for Rachel” which pairs people with early cognitive problems with Columbia University students. Before coming to Columbia in the fall of 2006, she worked as a genetic counselor for the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco; before that she was a health education specialist and science teacher.

Prakash Gorroochurn, PhD
Prakash Gorroochurn conducts research in mathematical population genetics, genetic epidemiology, and the history of probability and statistics. Dr. Gorroochurn is also the author of Classic Problems of Probability which won the 2012 PROSE Award for Mathematics from The American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence.

Nancy Green, MD
Nancy Green is Associate Dean of Clinical Research Operations at the Columbia University Medical Center, Associate Director of Columbia’s NCRR-funded Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA), and Professor in the division of Pediatric Hematology. She received her medical degree at Columbia University, and is a Columbia-trained Pediatric Hematologist-Oncologist. Dr. Green served as the Medical Director of the national March of Dimes, where she oversaw the scientific priorities, policies and educational efforts of the Foundation, with emphasis on genetics, newborn screening (NBS), adverse birth outcomes, biomedical ethics and perinatal epidemiology. Her research focuses on two areas: translational, clinical and social aspects of treatment for sickle cell disease, and the genetic screening of newborns and children, the latter related to her service to the federal HHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders and Genetic Diseases in Newborns and Children.

Josephine Johnston, LLB, MBHL
Josephine Johnston, LLB, MBHL, is Director of Research and a Research Scholar at The Hastings Center. She works on a range of ethical, legal, and policy issues in science and medicine and has developed a bioethics research program for high school students. Ms. Johnston’s current projects focus on advances in prenatal testing, gene editing, and the creation of human-animal chimeras. She is co-editor of Trust and Integrity in Biomedical Research: The Case of Financial Conflicts of Interest (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) and Human Flourishing in an Age of Gene Editing(Oxford University Press, 2019). She holds degrees in law and bioethics from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Robert Klitzman, MD
Robert Klitzman is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Joseph Mailman School of Public Health, and Director of the Masters of Bioethics Program at Columbia University. He has authored or co-authored over 100 articles, and 8 books, examining ethical issues concerning genetics, assisted reproductive technologies, research, HIV, and physician education. His books include “Am I My Genes?”: Confronting Fate and Family Secrets in the Age of Genetic Testing. He has received several awards, including Fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, The Russell Sage Foundation, the Aaron Diamond Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund, and the Rockefeller Foundation; and is a member of the Empire State Stem Cell Commission.

Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, PhD
Sandra Soo-Jin Lee is Chief of the Division of Ethics and faculty in the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics at Columbia University.  Before coming to Columbia, Dr. Lee conducted research for nearly two decades at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and taught in the Program in Science, Technology and Society (STS) at Stanford University.  Trained as a medical anthropologist, her work focuses on the sociocultural and ethical dimensions of emerging genomic technologies.  Dr. Lee has extensive experience leading empirical bioethics research, including The Ethics of Inclusion: Diversity in Precision Medicine Research (R01 HG010330), Beyond Consent: Patient Preferences for Governance of Use of Clinical Samples and Data (R01 LM012180) and Social Networking and Personal Genomics: Implications for Health Research (R01 HG005086).  Dr. Lee publishes broadly in the genomics, medical, bioethics, social science and STS literatures and co-edited Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age (2008). Dr. Lee is a Hastings Center Fellow and has served as Chairperson of the Institutional Review Board at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California and on the NIH/NHGRI Coriell Consultation and Oversight Committee of the International Haplotype Map.  Dr. Lee currently serves on the Scientific and Bioethics Advisory Boards of the Kaiser Permanente National Research Biobank, the NIH/NHGRI Genomics and Society Working Group and on the editorial board of Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics. 

Karen Marder, MD
Karen Marder is the Sally Kerlin Professor of Neurology (in the Sergievsky Center, Taub Institute, and Psychiatry) at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is also Chief of the Division of Aging and Dementia in the Department of Neurology. Dr. Karen Marder received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and her medical degree from Weil Cornell Medical College. She completed her residency training in Neurology at the Neurological Institute and fellowship training in Behavioral Neurology with Dr. Richard Mayeux and Neuroepidemiology training with Dr. W. Allan Hauser at Columbia. She joined the faculty as an assistant professor of Neurology in 1989. She has been the Director of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America Center of Excellence since 1991. In September 2001, she was appointed Chief of the division of Aging and Dementia in the Department of Neurology, and was appointed Professor in 2002. In May 2006 she was elected to a 6 year term as Co-Chair of the Parkinson Study group, a consortium of North American investigators at 85 sites who participate in collaborative Parkinson’s Disease (PD) research. In October 2006 she was appointed the director of the Participant Clinical Interactions Resource at Columbia, one of 12 NIH funded Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA).

Erik Parens, PhD
Erik Parens is a Senior Research Scholar at The Hastings Center, the country’s first bioethics research institute. He has led major research projects directly relevant to the one proposed here, which brought together highly diverse stakeholders (including natural scientists, social scientists, humanists, and patients) and produced highly cited publications. Previous projects have focused on the controversies surrounding the interpretation of results from behavioral genetics studies (Parens, 1994; Parens et al., 1994); the disability community critique of prenatal genetic testing (Parens & Asch, 1999; 2000); and controversies surrounding the use of psychotropic medication to treat behavioral and emotional disturbances in children (Parens & Johnston, 2009; 2010; 2011). He also currently serves on the Advisory Board to the nation’s first genetic counseling program at Sarah Lawrence College.

Maya Sabatello, LLB, PhD
Maya Sabatello is an Associate Professor of Clinical Bioethics, at the Department of Psychiatry, and a Lecturer, at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University. A lawyer with a PhD in political science, and post-doctoral training from Harvard Medical School and Columbia University Medical Center, Dr. Sabatello specializes in bioethics, medical ethics, disability studies, international law and comparative human rights. Her research focuses on law, society, and disability; a child-centered approach to assisted reproductive technologies; and the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetics, especially in pediatrics and judicial settings. She authored Children’s Bioethics(Martinus Nijhoff/ Brill Publishing, 2009) and co-edited (with Marianne Schulze) Human Rights and Disability Advocacy(Penn University Press, 2014). Previously, Dr. Sabatello litigated cases of medical malpractice and has worked as a legal adviser to national and international nongovernmental organizations to promote health-related and disability rights.

Sharon Schwartz, PhD
Sharon Schwartz, a sociologist, has been the training coordinator of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training program for over 20 years. In that capacity she has overseen the training of post-doctoral fellows from a variety of disciplines. Dr. Schwartz’ research focuses on the ways in which different methodological approaches influence conclusions drawn about the etiology (including genetic etiology) and consequences of psychiatric disorders, which is a focus of her teaching as well.

Karolyn Siegel, PhD 
Karolyn Siegel spent much of her career at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where she developed and directed a psychosocial research unit in the Department of Social Work. While at Memorial, she was a Member of the Department of Psychiatry as well as Professor of Sociology in the Department of Psychiatry at Cornell University Medical College. Dr. Siegel’s recent research has primarily focused on examining the adaptive tasks that individuals living with life-threatening or chronic illness confront and the coping strategies they use in an effort to master these challenges. She is also an active researcher in the areas of bereavement and caregiving. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Aging, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Nursing Research, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the National Institute for Child and Human Development, the (former) Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, the Department of Defense, the American Cancer Society, the New York State AIDS Institute, and various private foundations. Her work is widely published in sociology, health psychology, and medical journals. Dr. Siegel is a former associate editor of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior and has also served as research issues editor for the Journal of Psychosocial Oncology.

Kathryn Tabb, PhD
Kathryn Tabb joined the Department of Philosophy in 2015 after receiving an MPhil from the University of Cambridge and a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh, both in History and Philosophy of Science. She has interests in philosophy of science and medicine and in history of philosophy, especially early modern philosophy. Dr. Taub’s historical research treats philosophical debates over psychopathology and irrationality, especially among 17th- and 18th-century British empiricists. In philosophy of medicine her work focuses on classification and explanation in psychiatry, and she has completed an MA in Bioethics and Health Law at the University of Pittsburgh on behavioral genetics and psychiatric ethics. Dr. Tabb is on the steering committees for Columbia’s Center for Research on Ethical, Legal & Social Implications of Psychiatric, Neurologic & Behavioral Genetics, and the Precision Medicine: Ethics, Politics and Culture workgroup. Along with Dr. Paul Appelbaum, she is principal investigator for the grant project “Assessing Intuitions about the Genetics of Virtuous Behavior,” part of the Genetics and Human Agency research initiative led by Eric Turkheimer (University of Virginia).

Lawrence Yang, PhD  (Consultant)
Lawrence Yang  focuses on research in several key areas of psychiatric epidemiology. First, from his NIMH K-award, he has formulated defining theoretical work on how culture relates to stigma and implementing interventions to improve recovery for different stigmatizing conditions (mental illness and HIV), with a focus on Chinese groups. Second, Dr. Yang is PI of a 5-year NIMH R01 grant examining the neurocognitive and social cognitive underpinnings of the new “clinical high risk state for psychosis” designation, a potentially transformative new syndrome to detect psychotic signs before symptoms develop into a full psychotic disorder. Third, Dr. Yang has incorporated these research areas into his work in global mental health. He has received a newly-funded, second R01 (Dr. Michael Phillips, co-PI) examining the clinical and cognitive characteristics of untreated psychosis in China. He also leads a component of a NIMH U19 grant investigating the barriers and facilitators involved in scale up of mental health interventions for psychosis in Latin America (Chile, Brazil and Argentina). He has sixty-five publications (fifty-five peer-reviewed papers; >50% first-authored), including publications in Psychological Medicine, the British Journal of Psychiatry and The Lancet. Dr. Yang has received eight Early Career Awards, six of which are national, for his work.

Rachel Yarmolinsky, MS 
Rachel Yarmolinsky is the Program Director for the Columbia University Division of Ethics in the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. A longtime Director of Media Relations and Marketing at Columbia’s Department of Psychiatry and a Regulatory Specialist at the Columbia University Human Research Protection Office, Ms. Yarmolinsky completed an MS in Bioethics at Columbia in 2014. Her interests include clinical and research ethics, particularly in neuroethics and ELSI research. Ms. Yarmolinsky is experienced in event and meeting planning, science writing, graphic design, and media relations.  She is a member of the Medical Ethics Committee at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/CUIMC, a member of the Social Services Committee of New York City’s Community Board 2, and a member of the board of Science Writers in New York.