Maria Fasolino, PhD, is the Program Manager for ACE for WS. She obtained her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania under the mentorship of Zhaolan (Joe) Zhou, Ph.D., where she studied the molecular consequences of patient-associated mutations in MECP2 that cause Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder with autistic-like features. Maria continued her training as a postdoc in the laboratory of Golnaz Vahedi, Ph.D., at the University of Pennsylvania, where she investigated the etiology and pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes, a complex autoimmune disease. Maria worked at a neuromodulation device company as a preclinical and clinical product manager prior to joining Penn in 2021 as the Program Director for Autism Spectrum Program of Excellence (ASPE), where she applies her training and experience to coordinate the various aspects of ASPE to ensure that program objectives are met. Maria is thrilled to utilize the knowledge and skills she has acquired in the past to serve the Williams syndrome community.
Cindy Tsikalas is the Patient Navigator and Clinical Research Coordinator for ACE. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology at New York University with a minor in child and adolescent mental health studies. After graduating, she worked as a Patient Intake Coordinator at a mental health center that provided care to both children and adults. Cindy was also a program assistant at the Child Mind Institute in New York City, getting 1:1 experience in parent-child interaction therapy for children with selective mutism, ADHD and anxiety. Her last role before joining ACE was as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai where she worked on pediatric clinical trials with investigational drugs. Cindy is passionate about improving health outcomes and providing positive experiences during care for patients and their families.
Eileen McCann is the Chief of Staff for Penn Genetics and has a rich history working with leaders at Penn. She has extensive executive administration experience and a solid organizational, communication, and facilitation background. She approaches all projects with a proactive, problem-solving, positive, and collaborative mindset. Eileen adds value to the ACEforWs program group with her continuous drive and hunger for getting things done and achieving results that deliver real impact.
Erin Watson is a clinical research coordinator for ACE. She received her B.A. in psychology from Princeton University in 2023, with a minor in cognitive sciences. During college, she worked as a research assistant in the Princeton Baby Lab with Dr. Casey Lew-Williams, doing research on infant social and language development. She also worked as a clinical research coordinator on a geriatric oncology team at the University of Rochester from 2020 to 2021. In this position, she helped develop and administer patient-clinician communication initiatives and exercise interventions to improve patient health outcomes. She is particularly interested in working with neurodiverse patients and families, previously serving as a counselor at therapeutic programs for children with trauma, behavioral disorders, and autism spectrum disorders. She is currently pursuing an MD, and she is passionate about improving the quality of and access to individualized care.