Meet Our Experts

Our Leadership

Christina D. Chambers, PhD, MPH is the Program Director of MotherToBaby California. She is a world-renowned perinatal epidemiologist at the Center for Better Beginnings and a Professor of Pediatrics and Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California San Diego. Her interests are in the areas of birth defects and other pregnancy outcomes, with a special focus on exposures that can cause birth defects (known as “teratogens”). Dr. Chambers has a very active research program on (1) the prevention of alcohol-related birth defects and (2) the safety in pregnancy of several medications and vaccines.

Kenneth Lyons Jones, MD is the Medical Director of MotherToBaby California. He is a pediatrician specializing in the area of genetics and dysmorphology (the study of birth defects). Dr. Jones is Chief of the Division of Dysmorphology and Teratology and Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California San Diego. He is well-known in the field of birth defects, and is considered the father of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) as he was one of two doctors at the University of Washington who first identified FAS in the United States in 1973. He has authored over 400 publications in scientific journals and is the author of Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation, the esteemed medical reference book on both environmental and genetically caused birth defects.

Patricia Janulewicz Lloyd, DSc is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Health Department at Boston University, School of Public Health. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts, under the tutelage of Dr. Jane Adams. She continued her education at Boston University, receiving a Masters in Public Health and Doctor of Science degree in Environmental Health.  Dr. Janulewicz Lloyd has worked with MotherToBaby California for the past 11 years and recently became the Associate Director of the Neurodevelopmental Follow-Up Program, under the direction of Dr. Adams.  In her free time, Dr. Janulewicz Lloyd likes to spend her time with her husband, Nathanael, their three children (Eric, Eleanor and Caroline), and their dog Marley.

Kelly Kao is the Program Director at MotherToBaby California. She supervises MotherToBaby California’s risk counseling service and pregnancy follow-up program as well as the maintenance and quality assurance of the data collected. Kelly has been with MotherToBaby California since 1993, and actively demonstrates her dedication to counseling and educating the community about teratogens through her outreach activities, lectures and research projects. Kelly is married to Wayne and has three wonderful children. On the weekends, you’ll find her at baseball games, soccer games, and swim meets, cheering her children on.

Our Teratogen Information Specialists (or the people you’ll talk to if you call/email/live chat with a question!)

Sonia Alvarado is a bilingual (Spanish/English) Teratogen Information Specialist with MotherToBaby California. Along with answering women’s and health professionals’ questions regarding exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding via phone, email, and live chat, she provides educational talks in the community regarding pregnancy health. In addition, Sonia is an author for MotherToBaby’s Baby Blog, develops training materials for new staff, and is the supervising Teratogen Information Specialist trainer for MotherToBaby California. Sonia attended San Diego State University and has worked in Tuberculosis Control for San Diego County’s Public Health Department. Sonia’s work has also been published through several tuberculosis studies. In her spare time, she loves to volunteer with the March of Dimes as an expert speaker on themes related to pregnancy.

Robert Felix is a Senior Teratogen Information Specialist with MotherToBaby California.  He started as a volunteer over 20 years ago and assumed counseling and outreach responsibilities in 1986. As MotherToBaby California’s Community Outreach Coordinator and Data Resource Manager, he is responsible for publicizing and increasing awareness about the value of MotherToBaby California and its services. He cultivates new partnerships by identifying healthcare providers and communities throughout the state so that MotherToBaby California’s services can be targeted to these groups. Robert is actively involved with a variety of programs, locally and statewide. These include the Perinatal Care Network, Black Infant Health, California’s Comprehensive Perinatal Service Program, California Smokers Helpline, California’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC), March of Dimes, and Planned Parenthood. Robert is also currently serving as President of OTIS’s Board of Directors.

Mara Gaudette is a Teratogen Information Specialist with MotherToBaby California. She earned her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and her Masters degree in genetic counseling from Northwestern University.  As a certified genetic counselor, she has worked in a neuromuscular lab and Muscular Dystrophy and ALS clinic, as well as prenatal practices in both Illinois and California. Prior to joining the MotherToBaby California staff, Mara ran the Illinois teratogen information service for six years. Mara has also been a past OTIS board member, currently chairs the abstract committee for OTIS, and enjoys contributing to the OTIS education committee. When not happily shuttling her children around town, she relaxes by reading mysteries or watching some good (or bad) reality TV.

Kimberly Kopita is a Genetic Counselor / Teratology Information Counselor with MotherToBaby California. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and a Master of Science in Genetic Counseling. Kimberly enjoys teaching and her position at MotherToBaby California provides an excellent opportunity to do just that: she educates patients and health care providers about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Kimberly has a variety of professional experience, including clinical, public health, and laboratory-based positions, and she appreciates that her position with MotherToBaby California allows her to draw on all of her past experience. Outside of work, Kimberly enjoys traveling, camping, hiking, and volunteering as a tutor for an adult literacy program.

Our Research Team

Kerri Bertrand, MPH is the Research Coordinator for MotherToBaby California. She is responsible for managing the recruitment and follow-up of women who participate in our research program; collecting pediatric exam data; reviewing medical records; and data entry and case management. In addition, Kerri coordinates the UCSD Breast Milk Research Bank, a project to establish a repository of samples that can be used to answer many research questions about breast milk. Kerri graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2010 and received a Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology from San Diego State University in 2013. Born and raised in East Hampton, New York, Kerri moved to San Diego in 2011 with her husband, Lee, and their dog, Kiedis, and in November 2015, she and Lee welcomed their first child, Summer Rose. In her spare time, Kerri likes to be outdoors and enjoys the beach, hiking, and camping.

Jolene Borchelt, MSW is a child psychometrist and research assistant with MotherToBaby California. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2010 with a B.A. in Psychology and from Simmons College in 2014 with a Masters in Social Work. Jolene moved to San Diego from Boston, MA in 2014 with her husband, two cats, and four chinchillas. As part of the neurodevelopmental follow-up program, Jolene sends, receives, and scores questionnaires and completes face-to-face assessments with children. She loves that her job allows her to meet with moms and kids and follow their development over time! When she’s not at work, Jolene also crochets items for her on-line shop. She loves discovering new places to eat and, of course, playing with her animals.

Marla Ornelas is a Research Assistant at MotherToBaby California. She graduated from the University of California San Diego with a B.A. in Human Development, and completed her Master’s in Counseling at the University of San Diego. She conducts interviews with study participants, and is also responsible for sending study materials to our community partners. Marla is a San Diego native and is fluent in Spanish. In her free time, Marla enjoys traveling, reading, watching the latest blockbuster movies and going to concerts. She also loves spending time with her family and two dogs; Zoey, a Yorkie and Mia, a Poodle-mix.