Sarah B. Alexander, Director of External Relations
Hao Bao, Clinical Data Manager
Casey Calamusa, Program Manager, Marketing Communications
Donald Chaffin, GAPPS Repository Laboratory Manager
Carolyn Copstead, Administrative Assistant
Gail H. Deutsch, GAPPS Repository Advisor
Barbara Gardner, Executive Assistant
Courtney Baruch-Gravett, Senior Project Coordinator
Michael G. Gravett, Scientific Director
Eve Lackritz, Deputy Director
Jillian Legard, Research Associate II
James Litch, Perinatal Interventions Program Director
Brenda Majercin, Development Advisor
Rohit Nariya, Research Associate
Aaron Posey, Business Development Manager
Suzanne Roman, Senior Accountant
Amber Sexton, GAPPS Repository Manager
Leah Tanner, Health Equity Liaison
Christy Van Pelt, Senior Business Manager
Kurt White, Information Technology Support Lead
Thomas N. Hansen, MD, served as Seattle Children’s CEO from 2005 - 2015. He is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine and co-founder of GAPPS. Dr. Hansen received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine, with postdoctoral fellowships in neonatal medicine at Baylor and in pediatric pulmonary disease at the University of California, San Francisco.
Under Dr. Hansen’s leadership, Seattle Children’s consistently placed among the nation’s best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report and ranked in the top five in National Institutes of Health funding for pediatric research. He worked closely with board members, physicians, staff and the community to significantly expand the hospital’s clinical and research capabilities to support a growing need for the specialized services that Seattle Children’s provides to the region. He led the organization with a bold vision of becoming the best pediatric hospital in the nation.
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. He is on the editorial board for the journal PLOS ONE.
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 Top Doctor by U.S. News & World Report in 2012 and 2013, 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 Alexander is responsible for business development, marketing, advocacy and communications. She represents GAPPS at several DC-based advocacy organizations and serves on the steering committee of the Frontline Health Workers Coalition. She 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 communications director at the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. Sarah developed programs to maximize reach and awareness of HIV vaccine research with international research organizations, pharmaceutical companies and non-governmental organizations; conducted audience research to evaluate attitudes and awareness of HIV vaccine; performed research in communities surrounding study sites; and developed strategic messaging with scientist networks. She has extensive experience in advertising, market research, 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.
Program Manager, Marketing and Content Development
Casey Calamusa oversees GAPPS’ media relations and social media, as well as 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.
GAPPS Repository Laboratory Manager
Donald Chaffin manages the GAPPS Repository laboratory and is responsible for quality control of all 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 34 years of experience in the fields of biochemistry, microbiology and molecular biology.
Carolyn Copstead has a range of administrative responsibilities and supports several teams within GAPPS. Carolyn primarily assists the Marketing & Communications and Repository teams, as well as compiles the weekly GAPPS news summary, LiveWire. In addition, she provides administrative support for several members of the GAPPS leadership team. Carolyn earned her bachelor’s degree in visual journalism and economics from Western Washington University.
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.
Barbara Gardner brings to GAPPS over 30 years’ experience supporting executive leadership. As Executive Assistant to Dr. Craig Rubens, Executive Director and Dr. Eve Lackritz, Deputy Director, Barbara’s role encompasses a wide range of responsibilities. Barbara also provides administrative support to the GCAPR Secretariat and GAPPS Advisory Council. She has been with Seattle Children’s since 2011 and came to GAPPS in 2013.
Courtney Baruch-Gravett, MPH
Senior Project Coordinator
Courtney Baruch-Gravett has a strong background in basic science research, epidemiology and project management, working in the field of maternal and child health for the past decade. Following initial work as a research scientist studying fetal origins of adult disease, Courtney completed her masters of public health at the University of Washington and has since focused on clinical and implementation research as well as project management in maternal health. In her current role at GAPPS, she leads a complex, multi-country research initiative aimed at establishing international research cohorts in pregnant women to elucidate the causes of preterm birth and develop appropriate, novel strategies for prevention.
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 has served as president of the Infectious Diseases Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Gravett led the Perinatology Working Team for the National Children’s Study effort to develop pediatric terminology, served on the Institute of Medicine panel on Prematurity and its Consequences, and has served on several NIH Study Sections.
Eve Lackritz is the Deputy Director of GAPPS, where she serves as part of the leadership team and as senior program officer of the Preventing Preterm Birth initiative and Maternal Immunization Pharmacovigilance project. She coordinates harmonization and standardization of prospective cohorts of pregnant women and researchers investigating upstream causes of preterm birth. Prior to joining GAPPS, Eve served for 23 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working in public health research and programs in malaria, HIV, and maternal-infant health domestically and globally. Most recently, she served as Chief of CDC’s Maternal and Infant Health Branch where she provided oversight of research and programs in maternal and infant morbidity and mortality in the United States and internationally. 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, as well as manages specimens received from clinical sites and distribution of specimens to researchers. She has worked at Seattle Children’s since 2010, 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 also leads GAPPS' work on the Every Preemie - SCALE initiative, a USAID-funded global effort to prevent and manage preterm birth and low birth weight babies. Jim’s work in global health began more than 25 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/Jhpiego. Immediately prior to GAPPS, Jim was the Senior Newborn, Child and Maternal Health Specialist at PATH, where he directed a broad portfolio of innovative implementation research and technology projects, and was PATH's lead on the USAID BASICS child survival program. He is also a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Global Health and Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington. He has been a consultant and a reviewer for the WHO, the USAID Maternal Child Survival Program, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other global health organizations. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Global Health.
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.
Rohit Nariya works with the GAPPS Repository on collection kit production and laboratory processing. He has a strong skill set in bench research and is also experienced with high throughput clinical sample processing. Rohit has a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology from the University of Washington.
Aaron Posey focuses on developing strategies and partnerships to promote the use of specimens and data in the GAPPS Repository, with the goal of enabling more research into preterm birth, stillbirth, and other adverse pregnancy outcomes, and advancing translational opportunities to improve health outcomes. He has extensive experience in bench science and research, as well as in a variety of business development leadership roles for healthcare and biotechnology organizations. He has an MBA in Healthcare Executive Leadership from Seattle 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, both from the University of Washington.
Amber Sexton, MPA
GAPPS Repository Manager
Amber Sexton brings over 10 years of clinical research experience to her position as Repository Manager. Amber leads a dynamic, diverse team in developing research infrastructure both locally and globally, including the development of robust data capture networks. Her background in public policy and pediatric clinical research have afforded her a unique expertise in the regulatory management of biobank and maternal and child health projects. Amber has a passion for systems development and motivating teams and stakeholders through the use of visualized data. She has presented her work on standardization, training, certification, harmonization, and the leveraging of existing infrastructure in the development of cohort sites in low resource settings at prestigious international scientific conferences.
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 20 years of research administration experience. She manages GAPPS’ administrative functions including space allocation, capital equipment purchasing, and personnel management, as well as pre- and post-award grant management. She ensures financial and research compliance through pre-award budgeting and application development, post-award budget forecasting, and ongoing review of budget status. Christy uses lean methodologies to create change and act as a catalyst for improvement in processes, cross-functional team effectiveness, and advancement of the Seattle Children's Research Institute’s Research Production Development Systems to achieve defined improvement goals and objectives.
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.