Meet Our Experts

Beth Conover, APRN, CGC

Beth is a genetic counselor and pediatric nurse practitioner. She established the Nebraska Teratogen Information Service in 1986, also known as MotherToBaby Nebraska. She was also a founding board member of OTIS. In her clinical practice, Beth sees patients in General Genetics Clinic, Prenatal Clinic, and the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Clinic at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Beth has provided consultation to the FDA and CDC. Two of her recent publications are, “The Art and Science of Teratogen Risk Communication” and “Safety Concerns Regarding Binge Drinking in Pregnancy: A Review”.

Lori Wolfe, MS, CGC

Lori is a board certified genetic counselor and the Director of MotherToBaby North Texas, which is part of the Texas Teratogen Information Service. Lori began the Texas TIS in July of 1991, and has served on the OTIS Board of Directors in various positions for almost 20 years. In addition to running the Texas TIS, Lori provides community workshops and education to both the public and to health care providers, and teaches at the University of North Texas. Lori is happily married to Doug, and is the mother of three wonderful children, two of whom are adopted.

Susan Sherman, M.Ed

Susan is a teratogen counselor for MotherToBaby North Texas. She has always wanted to work with pregnant and nursing mothers, and enjoys all aspects of her position. Susan graduated from the University of North Texas, with a Bachelor’s in Engineering and later returned to complete her Master’s in Education. After working as a teacher and administrator in Denton‐area public schools, she took several years off to be at home with her children. Susan and her husband, Dmitri have been married for 16 years and have two beautiful girls, Karlie and Maggie May.

Alfred Romeo, BA, BSN, RN, PhD

Dr. Romeo works at the Utah Department of Health with MotherToBaby Utah’s Pregnancy Risk Line as a teratogen information specialist. His other projects include the Utah Newborn Safe Haven Project, “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign and Integrated Services grant. His experiences include working as a nurse in newborn intensive care; teaching college health education classes; training medical homes in improving services for children with special health care needs; training young adults with disabilities in leadership and advocacy; and helping families learn about child development. He serves as the Secretary, Membership Co‐Chair, and Meeting Planning Co‐Chair for the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists. He also serves on the Utah Parent Center Board.

Lynn Martinez

Lynn is a teratology (reproductive hazards) educator with MotherToBaby Utah’s Pregnancy Risk Line. Lynn has been with the Utah program for 31 years and is a former OTIS President. She has published numerous scholarly articles on potential reproductive hazards and has provided education to thousands of health professionals and families.

John Carey, MD, MPH

Dr. Carey is Professor and Vice Chair of Academic Affairs in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Utah and founder and medical director of MotherToBaby Utah’s Pregnancy Risk Line. Dr. Carey trained in pediatrics, genetics and dysmorphology; throughout his career, he has been interested in birth defect syndromes and the care of children with these conditions. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Carey’s research focus has been in congenital malformations, neurofibromatosis and syndrome delineation. He has authored or co‐authored over 280 papers, chapters, invited articles and editorials for scientific journals. He also co‐authored the textbook, “Medical Genetics” (now in its 5th edition), which is widely used in schools of medicine throughout North America and Europe.

Christina D. Chambers, PhD, MPH

Dr. Chambers is the Program Director of MotherToBaby California and directs MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies. She is a world‐renowned perinatal epidemiologist 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.

Kenneth Lyons Jones, MD

Dr. Jones is the Medical Director of MotherToBaby California and Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California San Diego. He is a pediatrician specializing in the area of genetics and dysmorphology. 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. Dr. Jones founded the first teratogen information service, now known as MotherToBaby California, in 1979!

Robert Felix

Robert is currently President of OTIS’s Board of Directors. He is a Senior Teratogen Information Specialist and Community Outreach Coordinator with MotherToBaby California, responsible for increasing awareness about the value of MotherToBaby’s services and cultivating new partnerships with healthcare providers and community‐based organizations.

Sharon Voyer Lavigne, MS

Sharon has worked for MotherToBaby Connecticut for more than 28 years, the last eighteen of which she has served as the Coordinator. She is also currently the Research Coordinator representing her service and co‐Chair of the Education Committee. Sharon is a clinical Instructor in the Division of Human Genetics, Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences at UConn Health in Farmington, CT. She graduated from Northeastern University and went on to receive a Master’s of Science in Human Genetics/Genetic Counseling from Sarah Lawrence College. Sharon’s research interest lies in psychiatric diseases in pregnancy and their treatment, and prevention of prenatal isotretinoin exposures. As a genetic counselor, the counseling aspects of teratogen counseling services are also a primary focus for her.

Dee Quinn, MS, CGC

Dee is a board certified genetic counselor and has been the Director of the Arizona Pregnancy Riskline since 1989. She is a Clinical Lecturer in the Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy at the University of Arizona and teaches genetics and teratology to health professionals. She received a BSN degree from the University of Bridgeport in 1975and her Master’s degree in Genetic Counseling from Sarah Lawrence College in 1981. At the University of Connecticut from 1981‐1989, Dee provided prenatal, pediatric, and cancer genetic counseling, and developed the Connecticut Pregnancy Riskline. She was Director of the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program at University of Arizona until its closure in 2005. She served as President of OTIS from 1999‐2001 and Executive Director from 2005‐2012.

Chris Colón

Chris is a certified genetic counselor based in Tucson, Arizona and the proud mother of two. She currently works for The University of Arizona as a Teratogen Information Specialist at the Arizona Pregnancy Riskline, an affiliate of MotherToBaby. Her counseling experience includes prenatal and cardiac genetics. Chris has also served as MotherToBaby’s Education Committee Co-chair since 2012.

Myla Ashfaq, MS, CGC

Myla is a certified genetic counselor and clinical instructor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Genetics at the University of Texas Medical School. In addition to providing telephone teratogen counseling for MotherToBaby TexasTIPS, she provides genetic counseling to families of pediatric patients at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Houston. She is involved in facilitating courses and supervising students from the University of Texas Genetic Counseling Training Program. She is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and is interested in multi‐cultural and international genetic counseling. Myla graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2005 with a BA in Genetics and received her MS in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling from Stanford University in 2011.

Jennifer Lemons, MS, CGC

Jennifer is a certified genetic counselor and clinical instructor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Genetics at the University of Texas Medical School. In addition to providing telephone teratogen counseling for MotherToBaby TexasTIPS, she provides genetic counseling services at the Gulf States Hemophilia and Thrombophilia Center in Houston. She works with the University of Texas Genetic Counseling Program students on rotation and helps facilitate coursework. She is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and is interested in multi‐cultural genetic counseling and the intersection of religion and spirituality in genetic counseling. Jennifer graduated from Purdue University in 2007 with a BS in Biology and received her MS in Medical Genetics from the University of Cincinnati in 2011.

Claire Coles, PhD

Dr. Coles is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics at Emory University, Director of the Maternal Substance Abuse and Child Development Laboratory, and Director of MotherToBaby Georgia. Her expertise is in the developmental and behavioral effects of prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol and the interaction of these effects with the postnatal environment. She was among the first to describe the behavioral effects of prenatal alcohol exposure and to investigate the effects of cocaine exposure on child development. Dr. Coles established the only multidisciplinary clinic in the Southeastern United States that provides specialized services to individuals prenatally exposed to drugs and alcohol. Her team also designed interventions for those affected, including the Math Interactive Learning Experience and the GoFAR intervention.

Bethany Kotlar, MPH

Bethany graduated with a Masters in Public Health from Emory University where she specialized in maternal and child health. She is also a Certified Childbirth Educator. She has worked with pregnant and breastfeeding women in a variety of settings including Georgia state prisons. Bethany greatly enjoys her position as Program Coordinator for MotherToBaby Georgia. She is happily married and currently has two fur babies.

Lauren Bryl, MS, CGC

Lauren is a certified genetic counselor at Insight Medical Genetics in Chicago, IL, where she provides both reproductive and hereditary cancer risk counseling. She graduated from Haverford College with a Bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and earned a Master’s of science in genetic counseling at Northwestern University. She has counseled women, their family members and their healthcare providers regarding the effects of exposures during both pregnancy and lactation since 2011. In addition, Lauren supervises genetic counseling graduate students during their clinical rotations at IMG and is interested in pharmacogenomics.

Lorrie Harris‐Sagaribay, MPH

Lorrie coordinates MotherToBaby North Carolina, conducting statewide outreach and overseeing day-to-day operations. She is also a bilingual (Spanish and English) Teratogen Information Specialist. After serving as a community health educator with the Peace Corps in Honduras, she received her master’s degree in public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked in the field of maternal and child health for over 20 years. She is also a medical interpreter serving Spanish-speaking patients and their OB-Gyn providers.

Carolyn Wilson‐Brackett, MS, CGC

Carolyn is a certified genetic counselor and has been working with the MothertoBaby North Carolina Pregnancy information service as a teratogen specialist since 2003. Carolyn also provides clinical genetic counseling in the areas of prenatal, pediatric, cancer, and adult genetics at Mission hospitals. Carolyn is a genetic counseling student supervisor, thesis advisor, and clinical instructor in the area of teratology for both the UNC Greensboro and USC Genetic Counseling training programs. She is a guest lecturer on teratology for the ETSU Medical School. She received her master’s degree in genetic counseling from the University of Texas and MD Anderson Cancer Center. She lives in Asheville, and enjoys the rich culture and beautiful outdoors of Western North Carolina.

Richard K. Miller, PhD

Dr. Miller is Director of MotherToBaby URMedicine. He holds a PhD in Pharmacology/Toxicology and is Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology, Pathology and Environmental Medicine at University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY. He co‐edited the 3rd edition of Drugs during Pregnancy and Lactation: Treatment Options and Risk Assessment (2015). He is the dysmorphologist and member of the Scientific Advisory Boards for the US Ribavirin Pregnancy Registry, the International Belimumab Pregnancy Registry, the MotHER Pregnancy Registry and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for TERIS. He is past President of the Teratology Society and Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences. Besides an emphasis on medication use, Dr. Miller specializes in environmental/occupational exposures during pregnancy.

Gideon Koren MD, FRCPC, FACMT, FACCT

Dr. Koren is founding director of the Motherisk Program in Toronto. He is a pediatrician and pediatric pharmacologist‐toxicologist with special interest in Maternal‐Fetal toxicology. Dr. Koren has authored and coauthored 1,600 papers on the effects of drugs and chemicals on the fetus and child, spanning from laboratory work to epidemiological studies. He has been a member of OTIS since its inception.

Debra Kennedy, MBBS, FRACP, Clinical Geneticist (HGSA)

Dr. Kennedy graduated from the University of Sydney in 1985. She trained in Pediatrics and Clinical Genetics in Sydney, Australia before undertaking further sub‐specialist training in Clinical Teratology at the Motherisk Program as well as Clinical Genetics at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. She worked as a Clinical Geneticist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital from 1997‐2000 before establishing MotherSafe, the first Teratogen Information Service in Australia at the Royal Hospital for Women in 2000. Currently, MotherSafe receives over 22,000 calls annually. She is involved in clinical work as well as teaching and research and has published in the areas of clinical teratology and clinical genetics.

Alicia B. Forinash, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS, BCACP

Dr. Forinash is a Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy and clinical pharmacy specialist in the Maternal Fetal Care Center at SSM St. Mary’s Health Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Her practice in high and low risk obstetrics includes management of chronic medical conditions as well as patient and provider education. Her interests include asthma, smoking cessation, psychiatric disorders, drug abuse, coagulation disorders, diabetes, hypertension, non‐adherence, and pregnancy induced conditions during pregnancy. She earned her Doctor of Pharmacy and Bachelors in Pharmacy from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy and completed a specialty residency in family medicine/ambulatory care from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Family Medicine of St. Louis.

Patricia Cole, MPH

Patricia Cole is the Program Coordinator for MotherToBaby Massachusetts. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Simmons College in Boston and her MPH in Maternal and Child Health from Boston University School of Public Health. She has been the serving the families of New England as a teratogen counselor since 2001 and provides oversight for the day-to-day functions and outreach of the program. She has also provides education to graduate students and other professionals.

Deborah Covington, DrPH

Dr. Covington serves as global head of pregnancy, lactation and infant follow-up studies at PPD. She is also part-time faculty at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. Dr. Covington received her doctorate from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and has 30+ years of research experience in perinatal epidemiology. She has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization and FDA on designing and conducting pregnancy registries. She has authored over 50 publications and given hundreds of presentations at scientific conferences. Dr. Covington leads PPD’s Pregnancy Center of Excellence in the conduct of pregnancy studies in asthma, autoimmune diseases, lupus, psoriasis, as well as influenza and meningitis vaccines.

Ginger Nichols, MS

Ginger Nichols is a genetic counselor in the Division of Human Genetics, Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences at UConn Health in Farmington, CT, and has worked for MotherToBaby Connecticut since 2000. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Sociology from Juniata College and her Master’s Degree in Medical Genetics from the University of Cincinnati. She has a special interest in occupational and environmental exposures, and is the committee chair of the OTIS Occupational and Environmental Committee. She is also a member of the Education Committee.

Margaret Adam, MD

Dr. Adam is a pediatrician and medical geneticist, and is one of the specialists who evaluates the babies participating in MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies. She is currently Professor in the Division of Genetic Medicine, Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington. Her clinical responsibilities include pediatric care at Seattle Children’s Hospital, as well as counseling pregnant women through the Prenatal Diagnosis Center at the University of Washington.

Stephen Braddock, MD

Dr. Braddock is Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Medical Genetics at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, and is board-certified in both Pediatrics and Medical Genetics. He is involved in the evaluation and treatment of individuals with birth defects and the education of healthcare professionals and the general public regarding teratology. Dr. Braddock was the founder and Medical Director of the Missouri Teratogen Information Service (MOTIS) at the University of Missouri, and is a member of OTIS/MotherToBaby. In addition to being President-elect for OTIS, he is also one of the specialists who evaluates the babies participating in MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies.

Norma Barton, BS Pharm

Norma Barton is a Certified Specialist in poison information and drug information, and is the Helpline Coordinator for MotherToBaby URMedicine. Ms. Barton has years of experience handling inquiries from families concerning exposures in children during pregnancy and lactation. She supports MotherToBaby URMedicine’s call line, email inquiry line, and website.

Ruth A. Lawrence, MD

Dr. Lawrence is a pediatrician, clinical toxicologist, and neonatologist. She is Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Medical Director of the Ruth A. Lawrence Poison and Drug Information Center and of the Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Study Center.

Kristen Dieter, MS, CGC

Kristen Dieter is a certified genetic counselor at Insight Medical Genetics in Chicago, IL, where she provides both reproductive and hereditary cancer risk counseling She graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor’s degree in biology and earned a Master of Science degree in Genetic Counseling from Brandeis University. She has counseled women, their family members, and their healthcare providers regarding the effects of exposures during both pregnancy and lactation since 2009.