Craig Rubens, Executive Director
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Sarah B. Alexander , Director of External Relations
Hao Bao, Clinical Data Manager
Alexey Bulychev, Research Associate
Casey Calamusa, Senior Communications Specialist
Amy Carmody, Executive Assistant
Donald Chaffin , GAPPS Repository Laboratory Manager
Gail H. Deutsch, GAPPS Repository Advisor
Courtney Gravett, Senior Project Coordinator
Michael G. Gravett, Scientific Director
Maureen Kelley, GAPPS Investigator
Sarah Kirsch, Clinical Research Associate
Eve Lackritz, Senior Program Officer
Jillian Legard, Lab Specialist
James Litch, Perinatal Interventions Program Director
Brenda Majercin, Development Advisor
Suzanne Roman, Senior Accountant
Amber Sexton, GAPPS Repository Manager
Lauren Stanton, Program Assistant
Leah Tanner, Senior Project Coordinator
Christy Van Pelt, Senior Business Manager
Kurt White, Information Technology Support Lead
Craig E. Rubens, MD, PhD
Craig Rubens, MD, PhD, is co-founder and executive director of GAPPS at Seattle Children’s. An internationally recognized infectious disease expert, Craig leads GAPPS' work in program development and strategic partnerships that leverage cross-disciplinary science to accelerate a discovery-to-delivery pipeline for improving maternal and newborn care and ultimately preventing prematurity and stillbirth. Craig is a professor of pediatrics and global health at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He is a member of many prestigious medical and scientific societies, including the American Pediatric Society and American Society of Clinical Investigators. He is on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases and has been a consultant and reviewer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, FDA, CDC, NIH, and other international funding organizations, along with many high-profile scientific journals.
Dr. Rubens’ long-term research interests include infectious diseases afflicting pregnant women, newborns, and children around the world. His specific area of expertise is in exploring the mechanisms of infection during pregnancy and the early newborn period that result in poor pregnancy and newborn health outcomes like preterm birth and stillbirth. Insights from his work have helped identify new opportunities for improving health during pregnancy and early childhood. Dr. Rubens is the lead on the Grand Challenge in Family Health: Preventing Preterm Birth initiative which seeks to identify the causes of preterm birth and stillbirth, awarded to GAPPS by the Gates Foundation. He was named a 2012 Top Doctor by U.S. News & World Report and Seattle Magazine listed him as one of the Most Influential People in Seattle for 2012. Craig is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Medicine and received a PhD from the Department of Basic and Clinical Immunology and Microbiology, Medical University of South Carolina.
Sarah B. Alexander
Director of External Relations
Sarah Alexander manages messaging to increase awareness of prematurity and stillbirth, and supports GAPPS’ scientific and advocacy agendas through communications campaigns comprising media outreach, advertising and social media. Previously she was associate director for communications for the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Sarah developed programs to maximize reach and impact of awareness of HIV vaccine research with the National Institutes of Health, pharmaceutical companies, non‐governmental organizations and international research organizations; conducted and evaluated audience research to evaluate attitudes and awareness of HIV vaccine; performed research in communities surrounding study sites; and developed strategic messaging development with scientist networks. She has extensive experience in advertising, market research, website, social media, and media relations in the technology and global health fields.
Hao Bao, PhD
Clinical Data Manager
Hao Bao is responsible for implementing GAPPS’ data management system as well as maintaining and tracking GAPPS Repository data. Hao’s previous experience includes working at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Biopathology Center, the only pediatric solid-tumor repository in the U.S., where she was responsible for designing and developing a biospecimen tracking and reporting system. She holds a master’s in computer science and a doctorate in chemical engineering.
Alexey Bulychev develops specimen collection kits and performs quality control of samples in the GAPPS Repository. Prior to joining GAPPS, Alexey interned at the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey School of Osteopathic Medicine, identifying effects of RNY1 protein on cellular growth and function in yeast. He has a bachelor’s in biochemistry from the University of Washington.
Senior Communications Specialist
Casey Calamusa helps coordinate GAPPS’ media relations and social media and supports marketing and communications campaigns to increase awareness of prematurity and stillbirth. Previously he was an international news officer at the humanitarian organization World Vision, where he served as a spokesperson for the organization and worked with the media to elevate awareness of crises around the world. He has a journalism degree from Seattle Pacific University.
Amy Carmody provides administrative support to Dr. Craig Rubens. She has over 10 years of administrative experience and has been with Seattle Children's since 2008. She has a bachelor's in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Washington with an emphasis on culture, literature, and art.
GAPPS Repository Laboratory Manager
In addition to managing the GAPPS Repository laboratory, Donald Chaffin is responsible for quality control of repository biological specimens, from the point of collection to distribution. He helped design and implement a rigorous quality control program to assure the biological integrity of the collection. Donald holds a bachelor’s in chemistry from Seattle Pacific University. He has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of biochemistry, microbiology and molecular biology.
Gail H. Deutsch, MD
GAPPS Repository Advisor
Gail Deutsch provides expert consultation to the GAPPS Repository on issues such as operations and expanding collections domestically and globally. Gail is a pediatric pathologist at Seattle Children’s and associate professor in the Department of Pathology at University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. She has more than a dozen years of experience in perinatal and pediatric pathology at tertiary children’s hospitals, and has served as director of the perinatal autopsy service for several years, providing autopsy support and placental consultation. Gail is also a recognized expert in lung development and pulmonary pathology with an emphasis on lung disorders that occur in early childhood.
Courtney Gravett, MPH
Senior Project Coordinator
Courtney Gravett has a background in basic science research and public health. Prior to joining GAPPS, Courtney worked as a research scientist for Seattle Children’s where she explored the mechanism of infection of human herpes virus 8, which affects people with HIV and many children in Africa. At GAPPS Courtney is involved in a neonatal sepsis project focused on assessing the potential for the development of diagnostic tools to detect serious infections in newborns. She is also involved in a project focused on severe infections in mothers, which aims to identify the major clinical syndromes associated with maternal infections, the pathogens that cause these infections, and to pinpoint critical periods during pregnancy to prevent or detect infection. Courtney holds a master’s in public health from the University of Washington.
Michael G. Gravett, MD
Mike Gravett is professor and vice-chairman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, at the University of Washington, and GAPPS’ scientific director. Mike completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology and fellowships in maternal-fetal medicine and in infectious diseases/immunology at the University of Washington. His research interests center on infectious and inflammatory causes and the consequences of preterm birth, and he developed the first experimental non-human primate model for infection-induced preterm birth. He has won numerous awards for his research and is the immediate past president of the Infectious Diseases Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Maureen Kelley, PhD
Dr. Maureen Kelley’s scholarship focuses on international research ethics with vulnerable populations and ethical issues related to maternal and child global health. She previously served on the philosophy and global health faculties of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Her recent work offers international research ethics guidance for investigators working with orphans and other vulnerable youth, and building research ethics capacity in developing countries with a special focus on maternal health research. Maureen is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine; serves on the core faculty of the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children’s; and is adjunct assistant professor in the departments of Bioethics & Humanities and Philosophy Affiliated Faculty, Center for Human Rights at the UW. Maureen completed her training in philosophy and bioethics at Baylor and Rice University in Houston.
Sarah Kirsch has 4 years of research experience and helps the GAPPS Repository team to process specimen and data requests and facilitate new and ongoing research projects. She spends part of her time at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, where she coordinates with investigators and their teams to organize, implement and complete various clinical research studies. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in neurobiology and Hispanic studies.
Eve Lackritz manages projects awarded through the Preventing Preterm Birth initiative, helps coordinate GAPPS’ cohort harmonization activities, and serves as a consultant on programming and strategy. She has devoted her 23-year public health career to research, surveillance, and programs both domestically and internationally, including malaria, HIV, and maternal and newborn health. Eve was most recently Chief of the Maternal and Infant Health Branch, Division of Reproductive Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where she provided oversight of research and programs in the area of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality in the United States and developing countries. Dr. Lackritz received her Doctor of Medicine at the Ohio State University, completed her residency in pediatrics at Case Western Reserve/University Hospitals of Cleveland, and is board certified in pediatrics.
Jillian Legard develops specimen collection kits and performs quality control of samples in the GAPPS Repository. She has worked at Seattle Children’s for more than 2 years, most recently as a research technician at the Center for Prematurity and Infection at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Jillian has a bachelor’s in biochemistry from the University of Washington.
James A. Litch, MD, DTMH
Perinatal Interventions Program (PIP) Director
Jim Litch is director of the GAPPS Perinatal Interventions Program (PIP) and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Global Health and Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington. Jim’s work in global health began more than 20 years ago and he has lived and worked in a number of settings in Africa and Asia, including serving as Senior Advisor for the Family Health Division of the Nepal Ministry of Health. He has held positions with PATH, CDC, University of Washington, and Johns Hopkins University. Immediately prior to GAPPS, Jim was the Senior Newborn, Child and Maternal Health Specialist at PATH and directed a large portfolio of innovative implementation, technology and operational research projects.
Brenda Majercin provides development guidance to GAPPS in her role as senior director of development for Seattle Children’s where she manages programs designed to develop and strengthen relationships with key constituents of Seattle Children’s Foundation. Prior to joining Children’s, she was development director at the University of Washington. Before transitioning into the development field, Brenda served as the director of a domestic violence agency in San Francisco. She holds degrees in philosophy and classical Greek from Southern Illinois University.
Suzanne Roman is the Senior Accountant for the Preventing Preterm Birth initiative, a series of grants within the Grand Challenges in Global Health. She comes to GAPPS from Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Office of Research Finance, where she worked for 8 years on the financial reporting of federal and foundation grants. She holds a bachelor’s degree in art history and a graduate certificate in accounting.
Amber Sexton, MPA
GAPPS Repository Manager
Amber Sexton manages the GAPPS Repository clinical collection sites and oversees regulatory compliance of the GAPPS coordinating center and collection sites. Most recently, Amber worked in diabetes research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, where she managed a registry network of clinics and hospitals that monitors the prevalence and incidence rates of diabetes in youth under 20.
Lauren Stanton has a wide range of responsibilities at GAPPS, including assisting the Marketing and Communications team with research and analysis, and compiling the daily GAPPS news summary LiveWire. She also provides administrative support for Dr. Michael Gravett. Lauren received her bachelor’s in business administration with an emphasis in marketing from Seattle University.
Leah Tanner is part of the Center for Diversity & Health Equality at Seattle Children’s, where she works with many different projects, including GAPPS. She is working closely with the GAPPS Repository to build relationships with communities who are under-represented in research and inter-tribal relations. Leah is active in addressing health disparities in communities of color and is particularly interested in social determinants that lead to poor health outcomes in women, children and communities. She is also an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe.
Christy Van Pelt
Senior Business Manager
Christy Van Pelt has more than 15 years of research administration experience. She provides business and operational expertise, ensuring the maximization of available revenue to achieve strategic goals and business objectives. Christy focuses on developing budgets for funding applications, developing and implementing contracts, partnership actualization, financial performance and office operations.
Kurt E. White
Information Technology Support Lead
Kurt’s background is in Enterprise Class Information Technology project management and support. Prior to joining GAPPS, he worked with companies including Occidental Chemical, NOKIA and Microsoft focusing on project rollouts and support. Kurt manages GAPPS’ information technology needs.