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Reed E. Pyeritz, MD, PhD

REPAs the first graduate of the Harvard Medical Scientist Training Program, Reed Pyeritz earned a Ph.D. in biological chemistry in addition to his M.D in 1975. His internship and assistant residency in medicine were at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, and his senior residency was at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He joined the faculty at Hopkins and rose to Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and Clinical Director of the Center for Medical Genetics. In 2001, he became chief of the Division of Medical Genetics at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Professor of Medicine and Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania. He is board-certified in internal medicine and clinical genetics, and is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. He founded the National Marfan Foundation and continues to serve on its Professional Advisory Board. He has served on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Medical Genetics, the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Society and Circulation. Dr. Pyeritz is the co-editor of the standard textbook in the field, Principles and Practice of Medical Genetics, the 5th edition of which was published in 2007. In 1991, he was one of the founders of the American College of Medical Genetics and became its 2nd president. He also served as the president of the Association of Professors of Human or Medical Genetics.

Dr. Pyeritz has long been recognized as an international authority on the genetics of cardiovascular disorders, especially the Marfan syndrome and hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. He has published over 400 scientific articles, reviews and chapters in textbooks.


Barbara Bernhardt, MS, CGC

photoBarbara Bernhardt received a B.S. in Biology from Cornell University and an M.S. in Epidemiology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Ms Bernhardt is a board-certified genetic counselor who has practiced for over 30 years in a variety of settings, including pediatrics, prenatal, adult medicine and oncology.

In 1991, she joined the Genetics and Public Policy Studies Unit at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where she was an investigator on a number of NIH-funded projects that explored both qualitatively and quantitatively: the diffusion of new genetic technologies; consumer and provider knowledge of and attitudes towards genetics and genetic testing; methods of delivering and evaluating genetic services; patient-provider communication; and reimbursement for genetic services. She was previously the Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins University/National Institutes of Health Genetic Counseling Graduate Program and taught the thesis proposal development course as a part of that program. She joined the Department of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003.

Ms. Bernhardt has served on numerous local and national committees and advisory boards as a genetic counselor and as an expert in ethical, legal and social implications of the Human Genome Project. She currently provides genetic counseling to adults with or at risk for genetic disorders, and is interested in decision-making under conditions of uncertainty and the psychosocial impact of genetic risk.


Joseph Cappella, PhD

JNCJoseph N. Cappella, Ph.D., is Professor of Communication and holds the Gerald R. Miller Chair at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Cappella's research has resulted in more than 100 articles and book chapters and three co-authored books in areas of health and political communication, social interaction, nonverbal behavior, media effects, and statistical methods. The articles have appeared in journals in psychology, communication, health, and politics. His research has been supported by grants from NIMH, NIDA, NSF, NCI, NHGRI, The Twentieth Century Fund, and from the Markle, Ford, Carnegie, Pew, and Robert Wood Johnson foundations. He has served on the editorial boards of 15 different journals. He is a Fellow of the International Communication Association and its past president, a distinguished scholar of the National Communication Association, and recipient of the B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award.


Ruth Schwartz Cowan, PhD

photoDr. Ruth Schwartz Cowan is Janice and Julian Bers Professor of the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Cowan received her A.B. in zoology from Barnard College in 1961, her masters in history from UC Berkeley in 1964, and her Ph.D. in the history of science from Johns Hopkins University in 1969.

Her current research investigates the intersection between gender studies and the histories of modern science, technology, and medicine. Her most recent book is Heredity and Hope: The Case for Genetic Screening (Harvard University Press, 2008). She has been the President of the Society for the History of Technology, the Chair of the National Academy of Science's U.S. National Committee for the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science, a member of the Smithsonian Council and of the Humanities Visiting Committee of MIT.

Dr. Cowan has received a number of prizes and grants, including the Leonardo da Vinci Prize, the Dexter Prize, the J.D. Bernal Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as recent grants from the Sloan Foundation, the NSF, and the NIH. In 1999, she traveled to Cyprus as a senior Fulbright scholar to research the prevention and treatment of thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder.


Susan Lindee, PhD

Susan LindeeDr. Susan Lindee is Professor of the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, and serves as Associate Dean for the Social Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences. She had an earlier career as a journalist, and then earned a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science at Cornell University, in 1990.  Her current research focuses on twentieth century science in the United States.  She is working on a social history of the militarization of technical knowledge in mid-century America, a study of Cystic Fibrosis, and a project on the comparative history of field practice in physical anthropology.

A leading figure in her field,  she has played an important role in the governance of the History of Science Society, as a member of council, chair of several committees, and editorial board member for both Isis and Osiris.  Her books include Moments of Truth in Genetic Medicine, (2005); Genetic Nature-Culture (2003); The DNA Mystique (with Dorothy Nelkin, 1995) and Suffering Made Real (1994).  She has been a Brown Center Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow,  and a Weiler Fellow, and has received the Burroughs Wellcome Fund 40th Anniversary Award, the Schuman Prize of the History of Science Society, and research support from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.  She participated in the Panel for the Constitution Project on the Dover creation science trial, and is a member of the Advisory Board, National Information Resource on Ethics and Human Genetics (NIREHG), Georgetown University.  She has also worked with Peter Harper and the European Molecular Biology Organization on planning for the documentation of twentieth-century genetics and genomics.


Katrina Armstrong, MD, MS

KatrinaDr. Katrina Armstrong is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Armstrong also holds various administrative and research roles, including serving as Director of Research, FOCUS on the Health and Leadership of Women; Co-Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program; Co- Director, Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Abramson Cancer Center; Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics; Senior Scholar in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Director, Masters of Science in Health Policy Research. Dr. Armstrong currently serves as the Division Chief in the Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Armstrong is the past recipient of a Preventive Oncology Career Development Award from the National Cancer Institute, a Clinical Research Training Grant from the American Cancer Society, a Young Investigator Award from the Department of Defense and a Generalist Faculty Scholar Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Dr. Armstrong's research seeks to elucidate the complex relationship among the social environment, health care, and cancer outcomes. Her research has concentrated on several areas of critical policy importance including genetic testing for cancer susceptibility, racial disparities in cancer outcomes, and the impact of distrust of the health care system on cancer screening and prevention behaviors among minority groups.


David Asch, MD, MBA

photoDavid Asch is Executive Director of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is the Robert D. Eilers Professor of Medicine and Health Care Management and Economics at the School of Medicine and the Wharton School. He is also Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania and the VA Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.

Dr. Asch's research aims to understand how physicians and patients behave and make medical choices in clinical, financial, and ethically charged settings. He has special expertise in understanding how physicians and patients incorporate perceptions of financial cost and health risk into their decisions, including the adoption of new pharmaceuticals or medical technologies or the purchase of health or life insurance. His research combines elements of economic analysis with moral and psychological theory and marketing.


Marian Reiff, MSW, PhD

Dr. Marian Reiff has worked as a Research Associate at the Penn CIGHT since November 2008 on a study exploring the meaning and impact of genome-wide array-based testing for children and families. She received her PhD in Sociomedical Sciences and Anthropology from Columbia University in 1997, and was the recipient of the Marisa de Castro Benton Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Sociomedical Sciences. 

Her research seeks to understand the associations between concepts of health and illness and health-related attitudes and practices, and to explore the cultural contexts of illness and treatment.  At Columbia University, she was an investigator on studies of public attitudes and beliefs concerning genes, disease and stigma, and studies of ethno-medical healing traditions and practices.  She has also been involved with epidemiological studies in public health, particularly among immigrant and minority groups, and has studied the utilization of biomedical care by immigrants from developing countries.  She is especially interested in research designs that integrate qualitative and quantitative methodologies.  Dr. Reiff's primary CIGHT work involves gaining an understanding of the meaning and impact of genome-wide array-based testing for children and families. This is a mixed method project that takes into account the perspectives of providers and families.

Dr. Reiff also has a Master’s in Social Work (London School of Economics) and has experience as a clinical social worker in medical and psychiatric settings.


Cara Zayac, MPH

Cara ZayacCara Zayac, manager of Penn CIGHT, began her work with CIGHT in 2007 as a research coordinator. As research coordinator, Cara was able to expand her social science research skills while working with various CIGHT investigators on many diverse projects. Now as CIGHT Manager, Cara will work to promote the goals of CIGHT by taking on a more advanced leadership role.

Prior to coming to CIGHT, Ms. Zayac has contributed to epidemiological studies with various populations, including spinal cord injured patients and a women's health study. She also has administrative experience in various healthcare settings, and is interested in improving access to care, patient outcomes and experiences. Cara holds a Masters in Public Health degree from the University of Pennsylvania.


Danielle Soucier, MBE

DJSDanielle Soucier has been a CIGHT research coordinator since February 2010. Danielle has been providing research support to Jon Merz on his project assessing the ethical, legal and social issues surrounding pediatric biobanking.  She also worked with Marian Reiff to assess the impact of genome-wide array-based testing on children and their families.  Currently, Danielle is managing several research projects, including assessing the impact of genomic testing for risk assessment in cardiovascular disease, examining patient and provider perspectives related to uncertainty with prenatal CGH microarray testing, and a newly funded collaboration with CHOP to assess the ethical and psychosocial implications of genomic sequencing in pediatric populations. Danielle also assists in the execution of daily CIGHT operations.

Danielle holds a Masters in Bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health at the University of Pennsylvania.