SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES

Sam Ansari, Ph.D., Manager, Biospecimen & LIMS, Biomedical Research, Philip Morris International R&D

Dr. Sam Ansari received his Ph.D. in computational biology at the University of Saarland, Germany and joined Philip Morris International (PMI) R&D in 2007. As a scientist in systems toxicology, Dr. Ansari developed analysis pipelines for high-throughput data and got more involved in the management of sample metadata and biological samples. He defined the biological sample management strategy for PMI R&D and successfully implemented a global sample management solution complying with regulatory requirements. By leveraging commercial and customized solutions for multiplatform OMICs experiments, this solution enables the seamless transfer and evaluation of more than 50’000 biological samples on a yearly basis and across multiple sites.

Nazneen Aziz, Ph.D., Executive Director, Kaiser Permanente Research Bank

Dr. Aziz is the Executive Director of the Kaiser Permanente Research Bank. Dr. Aziz’s interest and expertise is in the implementation of genomics in clinical practice. In her previous roles, Dr. Aziz was the Director of Molecular Medicine at the College of American Pathologists where she led the development of the first set of standards and proficiency tests for clinical laboratories using next-generation sequencing. Nazneen has held executive leadership positions in biotech and healthcare including most recently as the SVP/Chief Research Officer at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Nazneen was an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital and now hold a Research Professorship title in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. Nazneen received her Ph.D. in molecular genetics at MIT. She is on the National Academies Round Table of Genomics and Precision Health and the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s expert panel on multiplex technologies.

Katy Beckermann, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Academic Fellow, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Vanderbilt University

Katy Beckermann is the chief academic fellow at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center where she is entering her final year of training in the division of hematology/oncology. She received her M.D. and Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN. Her dissertation work focused on identification of novel P53 target genes and characterization of a P53-dependent mechanism of cell death through autophagy. Katy entered the ABIM research track completing her internal medicine training and is currently subspecializing in hematology/oncology. Her research focuses on altered T cell function in the tumor microenvironment. Katy hopes to identify biomarkers of response and potential synergistic mechanisms for use with current checkpoint inhibitor therapy.

Suzette J. Bielinski, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic

Dr. Bielinski received a Bachelor of Science degree at the College of Saint Catherine, a Master’s degree in Education at the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in Epidemiology with a minor in Human Genetics at the University of Minnesota. She was a National Institutes of Health Cardiovascular Disease Genetic Pre-doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellow and joined Mayo Clinic in 2008. Dr. Bielinski's research program focuses on the molecular biomarkers of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Bielinski has been at the forefront of Mayo Clinic’s interactions with several important cardiovascular cohort studies and consortia including the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). She is a leader of the Right Protocol, collaboration between the Center for Individualized Medicine and the Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery to implement pharmacogenomic sequence data into clinical systems to improve patient outcomes.

Andrew Brooks, Ph.D., COO, RUCDR Infinite Biologics; Associate Professor, Genetics, Rutgers University; CSO, BioProcessing Solutions Alliance

As the Chief Operating Officer of RUCDR Infinite Biologics, Dr. Andrew Brooks oversees the operations of all laboratories within RUCDR, ensuring consistent and superior quality standards for all services. Dr. Brooks is a well-recognized genomicist and has been involved in the development and implementation of cutting-edge molecular-based technologies for nucleic acid, protein and tissue analyses. His methodologies focus on extending the use of valuable samples by extracting and renewing limited quantities of biomaterial with newly developed technologies. Dr. Brooks is also the Director of the Bionomics Research and Technology Center (BRTC) at the Environmental and Occupational Health Science Institute of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He is an Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine and Genetics at UMDNJ/Rutgers. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, School of Medicine.

James R. Cerhan, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Epidemiology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic

Dr. Cerhan is a Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota. He received a BS degree in Anthropology in 1986, a Ph.D. degree in Epidemiology in 1991, and a M.D. in 1993, all from the University of Iowa. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cancer epidemiology at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. He joined Mayo in 1998, and is currently Chair of the Department of Health Sciences Research, Co-Leader of the Genetic Epidemiology and Risk Assessment Program in the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, and Principal Investigator of the Mayo Clinic Biobank in the Center for Individualized Medicine. His research program is focused on understanding the role of environmental, lifestyle, genetic and biologic factors in the etiology of lymphomas and on identifying lifestyle, genetic, tumor/microenvironment and treatment factors in lymphoma patients that predict prognosis and survivorship.

Joshua C. Denny, M.D., MS, Professor, Biomedical Informatics & Medicine; Director, Vanderbilt Center for Precision Medicine; Vice President, Personalized Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Dr. Joshua Denny is Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Medicine, the Director of the Center for Precision Medicine and a Vice President of Personalized Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. His interest in medical informatics include accurate phenotype identification from electronic health record data and using the electronic medical record to discover genome-phenome associations to better understand disease and drug response, including the development of the EHR-based phenome-wide association (PheWAS) method. He is PI of nodes in the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network, Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN), and the Implementing Genomics into Practice (IGNITE) network. He is a PI of the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) All of UsSM (AoU) Research Program Direct Volunteer Pilot and the PMI AoU Data and Research Support Center. Dr. Denny remains active in clinical care and in teaching students.

Sarah M. Dry, M.D., Vice Chair, Biobanking and Research Services; Director, Anatomic and Surgical Pathology; Director, Center for Pathology Research Services; Director, Pathology Research Portal; Director, Translational Pathology Core Laboratory; Department of Pathology, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine

Dr. Dry is the Vice Chairman for Biobanking and Research Services, the Director of Anatomic and Surgical Pathology and a Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. She is Director of the Pathology Research Portal (PRP) and the Translational Pathology Core Laboratory (TPCL), both of which are CAP/CLIA accredited biorepositories which provide research biofluid processing and biobanking (PRP) and research tissue procurement and biobanking (TPCL). She is an active diagnostic pathologist with subspecialty expertise in soft tissue, bone and gastrointestinal pathology. Along with collaborators at the University of California San Francisco, she was awarded a NIH grant (supplemental to the UCSF/UCLA CTSA awards) to develop best practices for biorepositories and for community engaged biorepository-related informed consent at the five University of California biomedical campuses.

Mary E. Edgerton, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Robin Everts, Ph.D., Staff Scientist, Scientific Affairs, Agena Bioscience

Dr. Robin Everts is a Staff Scientist in Agena Bioscience's Scientific Affairs department. His mission is to equip laboratories with practical solutions that increase productivity, decrease time to results and enable routine genetic testing.

James R. Goldenring, M.D., Ph.D., AGAF, Paul W. Sanger Professor of Surgery, Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, Vice Chairman for Research, Surgical Sciences, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Dr. Goldenring is Vice Chair of Surgery for Research and Co-Director of the Epithelial Biology Center. He also serves as Scientific Director for both the Translational Pathology Shared Resource and the Digital Histology Shared Resource at Vanderbilt. Dr. Goldenring’s research focuses broadly on aspects of epithelial cell biology. He has focused much of his present investigations on two broad areas, 1) the role of vesicle trafficking in maintaining normal apical polarity and the role of vesicle trafficking in loss of polarity during carcinogenesis and 2) the cellular origin of pre-cancerous metaplasia in the stomach.

Kayla E. Gray, Research Recovery and Processing Specialist, Eversight

Kayla Gray has over a decade of research experience. She received her bachelor’s of science from Case Western Reserve University with honors in Chemical Biology and has master’s courses in Applied Anatomy. She has been recognized for her work by being awarded research fellowships during her summers in high school and in college at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Miami University, and Case Western Reserve University. Currently, Kayla works tirelessly to further Eversight’s research initiatives. She has been instrumental in the design and build out of the Eversight biorepository laboratory at the Cleveland location and has become part of the greater biobanking community. She has authored and implemented new standards of practice and has presented at several conferences across the country and won awards for her innovative work. Most recently, she was named a Northeast Ohio Mover and Shaker, awarded to 25 individuals under the age of 35 who are making a difference in their community.

Sarah Gray, Director, Communications, American Association of Tissue Banks and Author, A Life Everlasting: The Extraordinary Story of One Boy’s Gift to Medical Science

Gray is the director of communications for the American Association of Tissue Banks. Her infant son became an organ, eye and blood donor for research after he died of anencephaly, a neural tube defect. She is author of a Washington Post bestselling medical memoir from HarperCollins, A Life Everlasting: The Extraordinary Story of One Boy's Gift to Medical Science (2016). So far, Sarah' story has been shared with more than 6 million people around the world, as she delivered a TED Talk of the Day (How my son’s short life made a lasting difference) appeared on two episodes of WNYC’s RadioLab (Gray’s Donation, It’s Not Us, It’s You) and was the subject of articles in the Associated Press and Philadelphia Inquirer that quickly went viral. Gray holds a BA in Communications from Marquette University and a Master’s in Public Communication from American University. For more information, see www.SarahGray.com.

William E. Grizzle, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Grizzle has an AB honors degree (Chemistry and Physics) from Harvard University and Ph.D. (Biophysics) and M.D. degrees from Johns Hopkins University. He is board-certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and is Professor of Pathology at UAB. From 1990-2000, he served as Head of the Autopsy Section at UAB, and since 2000, has been Head of the pathology Program in Translational Research in Neoplasia. Since 1983 and 1987, he has been, respectively, the Director of the Tissue Collection and Banking Facility at UAB and the PI of the Southern Division of the Cooperative Human Tissue Network. He is a consultant for national and international biorepositories. He has published over 500 book chapters and manuscripts on basic and translational research. He presents national and international workshops on design and operations of biorepositories, on factors affecting and limiting the use of human tissues in research, and other topics.

Feng Hong, Ph.D., Associate Director, Clinical Biospecimen Management, BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Inc.

Trained as a chemist/biologist, Feng has worked in the pharma/biotech/diagnostic industry for nearly two decades. He is a versatile and highly motivated professional with broad-based experience in sample management/project management/study management/outsourcing/business development. Currently Feng manages BioMarin’s clinical trial samples and supports translational science research there. Prior to that Feng worked in business development for Cancer Genetics Inc. Before that he worked at Amgen for about eight years, managing their clinical trial samples collected for translational science research and supporting their outsourcing efforts for translational research. Before Amgen he ran clinical trials for Amphastar Pharmaceuticals. Feng had a BS in microbiology, an MS equivalent in cell biology and a Ph.D. in environmental science.

Xuefeng Liu, M.D., Associate Professor, Pathology, Georgetown University

Dr. Liu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology, serves as Director of Telomeres and Cell Immortalization Program within Center for Cell Reprogramming (CCR) and Scientific Director of Conditional Reprogramming Laboratory (CRL). Dr. Liu’s research interests focus on the roles of papillomavirus oncoproteins and telomerase in cell immortalization. Dr. is a co-inventor of CR (Conditional Reprogramming) technology.

Anna L. Means, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Dr. Means got her BS from Ohio University and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has been working in the field of pancreatic cancer for 18 years, focusing on understanding how this deadly cancer arises and how it can be detected at early stages. She has established multiple model systems using human tissue and genetically engineered mice to understand how cell-cell communication regulates transformation, tumor maintenance, and tumor dissemination with the goal of identifying extracellular targets for both earlier diagnosis and better therapeutic efficacy.

Colleen M. Mitchell, Joint Biorepository Operations Manager, Indiana University Genetics Biobank and Indiana Biobank

Colleen M. Mitchell is the Joint Biorepository Operations Manager for the Indiana University Genetics Biobank and the Indiana Biobank. She coordinates business operations and maintenance for the cores. She ensures standardization and consistency of all standard operating procedures and quality control. She also provides leadership, guidance, support and mentoring for coordinators, technicians and medical staff within the tissue banks, and interacts and collaborates with internal and external stakeholders.

Charles J. Pivoney, CEBT, MBA, Chief Innovations Officer, Eversight

Charles Pivoney, CEBT, MBA, is Chief Innovations Officer of Eversight. He began his career in eye banking more than 30 years ago as a Certified Eye Bank Technician for Eversight Illinois and progressed into leadership roles, including Laboratory Supervisor, Vice President Operations, and Chief Operating Officer. Chuck now oversees the research and development activities of the organization that lead to research pursuits, discovery, and implementation of cutting-edge clinical service lines or products throughout the organization. He serves as Immediate Past Chair for the Gift of Hope Advisory Council, is a charter member of Donate Life Illinois, and was appointed to the Illinois Secretary of State Organ & Tissue Donor Advisory Council and Illinois Department of Health Task Force on Transplantation. Chuck received his master's degree in business administration from Keller Graduate School of Management, Chicago, and a bachelor's degree in biology from Northeastern Illinois University. He serves on the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) Medical Advisory Board and has also served on their Board of Directors, as well as service on various committees.

Zdenka Prodanovic, Biobank Manager, Pathology, Monash Health

She holds a Bachelor of Economics, Bachelor of Science and Graduate Diploma of Laboratory Medicine. Her professional experience is underpinned by her work in private and public diagnostic core laboratories. Her work is focused on projects supported by biobank services. Her own contribution to cancer research (primarily thoracic-lung and breast) resulted in a number of publications. Most innovative work has been done in mesothelioma biobank collection and analysis of heterogeneity of mesothelioma lesions in the same patient. Recently she has been involved in a setup of “live biobank”-facilitating translational research. She has been appointed Adjunct Lecturer at Monash University Southern Medical School lecturing on the biobanking component of the Translational Research Program to Ph.D. students.

Michael Roehrl, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Precision Pathology Biobanking Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Michael Tanen, Director, Clinical Biomarker Specimen Management, Translational Medicine, Merck Research Laboratories

Michael Tanen is the director of the Clinical Biomarker Specimen Management group in Translational Medicine at Merck Research Laboratories. Michael leads a group that is responsible for the collection, tracking, and storage of clinical biomarker specimens collected in clinical trials. During his 20 years at Merck he has been involved in the utilization of clinical biomarker specimens from the prospective of discovery research through the usage for diagnostic development. His team has established an industry leading specimen management solution that supports data integration between clinical, molecular, and specimens, improving how we make utilization decisions in the complex area of biomarker research.

Abbey Theiss, MS, Senior Scientist, tRED Research and Early Development, Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.

Abbey received a BS degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona and an MS in Plant Biology from the University of Massachusetts. Abbey is currently a senior scientist at Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. located in Tucson, Arizona. Ventana Medical Systems specializes in providing high-quality automated tissue stainers and antibody-based assays for the cancer diagnostics field. Abbey has been involved with pre-analytics for the last eight years. This project aims to provide standardization of routine tissue collection. Early efforts have focused on ways to optimize fixation of tissues with formalin, providing high quality with exceptional turnaround time and increased preservation of high-value medical content.

Mary Kay Washington, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Pathology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Dr. Mary Kay Washington received her doctorate degree in Physical Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1982, and her medical degree from the same institution in 1986. She trained in anatomic and clinical pathology at Duke University Medical Center, where she served as Chief Resident and as faculty before relocating to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 1996. She is currently Professor of Pathology and Director of Gastrointestinal and Hepatic Pathology at Vanderbilt. Dr. Washington has been active in a number of national pathology societies, and is currently a member of the Executive Committee for the American Joint Committee on Cancer and the Editorial Board for the 8th edition of the AJCC TNM staging manual. Dr. Washington directs several research biorepository resources, including the NCI-funded Western Division of the Cooperative Human Tissue network. She is a co-author or author on over 300 peer-reviewed publications and services Section Editor for Clinical Images in Gastroenterology for the journal Gastroenterology.

Kerry R. Wiles, Program Director, Cooperative Human Tissue Network and Vanderbilt University Medical Center Tissue Repository, Vanderbilt University

Kerry Wiles is the Program Director for the Cooperative Human Tissue Network, Western Division and VUMC Tissue Repository at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Ms. Wiles was recruited from Dr. Francis Collins’s lab at the National Institutes of Health in 2002 to manage and build the CHTN repository at VUMC, introducing new technology, process improvement methodology based on lean six sigma principals initiatives to build the repository into highly functioning organization. Ms. Wiles has over 15 years of wet bench experience with concentration on Muscular Dystrophy, two phases of the Human Genome Project, Cystic Fibrosis and Diabetes.