Interactive Autism Network (IAN) Staff
Paul H. Lipkin, MD, Director
Dr. Paul Lipkin is the Director of the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Lipkin comes to IAN from Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Development and Learning, where he served as director for fifteen years. His work there focused on the evaluation and treatment of children and adolescents with developmental disabilities, including learning and attention disorders and autism. His research focused on the early identification and treatment of young children.
Dr. Lipkin has provided national leadership on autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities through his work with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), where he served as Chair of its Council on Children with Disabilities from 2002- 2007. During this period, he directed key initiatives, including the creation of guidelines on developmental and autism surveillance and screening of young children . He was awarded by the AAP for his efforts on behalf of children with disabilities as its recipient of the Arnold J. Capute Award in 2011. He was also honored as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow in 2010-2011, where he served in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
“I have seen the importance of the IAN’s efforts with and on behalf of those affected by autism, where a vital link has been created between the families and researchers worldwide. IAN provides opportunities for families to work with researchers to gain knowledge about autism and improve the lives and the futures of those affected by it. I’d like to see more families and researchers take advantage of IAN’s resources and expand IAN in new directions.”
Dr. Lipkin is a graduate of Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He received his pediatric training at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore with specialty training in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He and his wife, Dr. Nancy Gordon, have three children.
Kiely Law, MD, MPH, Research Director
Dr. Kiely Law is responsible for developing and implementing IAN's research program. With a background in medicine and public health, she approaches ASD-related research from both an individual and community perspective. Dr. Law received her medical and public health degrees from Johns Hopkins University and then completed an internship in pediatrics at the University of Maryland Medical Systems in 2002.
In addition to her professional experience, she has been impacted personally by autism. At the age of three, her son was diagnosed with autism at Kennedy Krieger Institute. She is now helping him navigate the transition to adulthood as an individual with special needs. Dr. Law and her family live in Baltimore, MD.
"I jumped at the opportunity to be involved in this project. I was motivated by the mission of bringing together researchers and families to create a valuable resource for the autism community. There are so many unanswered questions about Autism Spectrum Disorder; I believe by collecting information from thousands of families, we can help researchers find the answers," states Dr. Law. "Parents experience the struggles and triumphs of autism every day. We can't overlook or underestimate the value of their perspectives and knowledge."
Cheryl Cohen, IAN's Online Community Director
Cheryl makes sure that IAN provides the information and tools that you need to contribute your ideas and find the information. She is a writer, editor, interaction designer, information architect, and online community designer who has been helping people get the most out of their computers for years. She was a co-founder and editorial director of CTSNet, a successful online community of practice in medicine, and worked at Johns Hopkins University's MedBiquitous Laboratory helping the healthcare community develop and implement technology standards to advance healthcare education.
"I am all too aware of the economic, emotional, and social stresses that ASDs place on families, and the difficulties that families run up against when trying to find good information and compassionate, focused, and affordable care. I am also aware of the tremendous potential of the Internet to empower people, improve communications, and foster change. IAN is harnessing this potential by engaging families in research, engaging researchers in the lives of families, and making research accessible to everyone."
In the distant past, Cheryl earned a certificate in Violin Making and Restoration and was a researcher and instructor of Sociology at Temple University. She has taught at the University of Baltimore and is working towards an advanced degree.
Jay Nestle, Director of Medical Informatics Information Technology
Jay ensures that IAN's web servers, websites, and databases are in top working order. To accomplish this feat, he works closely with other staff members at Kennedy Krieger Institute and with our technology partners. In his spare time, he puts on his programming hat and creates tools that help us run IAN and help researchers and the community to understand IAN data. He is currently developing the IAN Dashboard, an interactive tool that allows people to visualize the data from IAN Research in different ways. In the past, Jay worked with IAN's founder, Dr. Paul Law, on the Internet System for Assessing Autistic Children (ISAAC) project. He also worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab on Mars Pathfinder and on complex systems for a global manufacturing company.
"My wife and I know many families who have children with autism, and we know and see the challenges they face. IAN presents me not only with a great opportunity, but also with the responsibility to help accelerate research and help these families. There is no better place for me to invest my time and energy than the IAN Project. I know we can make a difference in autism research, and I am proud to be a part of what we will all accomplish together."
Alison Marvin, PhD, IAN Research manager
Alison manages subject recruitment and Institutional Review Board submissions, and also handles statistical, analytical, and data matters. She also spends a lot of time writing academic publications, such as papers and posters.
Alison earned a Ph.D. in Health Sciences, an MPhil in Public Administration, an MS in Statistics and Operations Research, and a BA in Mathematics. She also earned a Graduate Certificate in Project Management. In addition to her work at IAN, Alison teaches college-level statistics.
Originally from London, Alison lived in New York and Seattle before moving to Baltimore. She was employed in the corporate world before deciding to move into the world of research upon her move to Baltimore, where she joined the Kennedy Krieger Institute.
Alison lives with her husband, son, and a tabby cat in Pikesville, Maryland.
Tara Zandi, LGSW, MA, IAN Research Coordinator
Tara works with autism research scientists and partner programs, including the Simons Simplex Collection, to support enrollment and retention of families in the IAN Project. She also helps troubleshoot issues involving Institutional Review Board requirements, studies, and data.
Tara earned her master's in Clinical Psychology in 2009, and her master's in Social Work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, in 2013. In addition, she hopes to add Spanish to the list of languages she already speaks: Farsi, English, and French.
Her past experience as a structured therapeutic clinician working with special needs children helped her find her passion as a child advocate. She was a part-time school social work intern at Kennedy Krieger High School.
Jaimie Toroney, MHS, IAN Research Coordinator
Jaimie, who hails from Long Island, NY, moved to Baltimore in 2005 to begin her career in medical research.
Before joining IAN in 2014, she worked as a data research project manager at the American Urological Association, a medical society, where she helped with the development of a prostate cancer registry. From 2008 to 2013, she did research on adults affected by serious mental illnesses as a senior research program coordinator at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Mental Health. She previously worked as a research program coordinator at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine doing research on Alzheimer’s disease. Early in her career, she worked as a developmental habilitation specialist and therapeutic staff support for people with intellectual disabilities, mental illness, and traumatic brain injury.
She received a Master’s degree in Health Science from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a Bachelor's of Science in Human Development with a concentration in Cognitive Neuroscience from Cornell University.
She lives in Baltimore County with her husband, two young daughters, a dog and a cat.
Marina Sarris, Medical Writer/Web Content Specialist
Marina is responsible for producing articles for the IAN website and helping maintain the website. She is a former newspaper and magazine reporter. She has a master's degree in English and has studied web development.
Elisabeth Arthur, Research Assistant and Community Coordinator
As IAN's Community Coordinator, Elisabeth's primary focus is promoting and establishing collaborations with autism community leaders and ensuring continued interest and participation in the IAN Project.
Elisabeth has a personal connection to autism as she has family members on the spectrum. She worked with children and adults with autism and developmental disabilities before joining IAN. She is a graduate of the University of Rochester with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Elisabeth is currently pursuing a Masters of Social Work from the University of Maryland.
Aryeh (Ari) Esterson, Research Assistant
Ari assists with maintaining and expanding the research database and registry. He answers study-related questions and provides information to people participating in online research protocols. He also helps process applications from researchers requesting data or recruitment services. He earned a degree in Kinesiology from University of Maryland, where he was a student athletic trainer for the football program. He hopes to pursue a career in the health care field.
Bryan Stark, AVP Marketing & PR, Kennedy Krieger Institute; Director of Marketing, IAN
Bryan oversees all marketing communications planning and implementation for IAN. An integral member of the Institute's senior staff, he brings a wealth of strategic planning, brand development, integrated communications and marketing management expertise from a wide range of cause marketing, healthcare, pharmaceutical, and non-profit organizations. Prior to joining the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Bryan's role as a VP of Strategic Planning enabled him to provide marketing counsel for clients such as the National Geographic Society, InterContinental Hotels, NeighborCare Pharmacies, Johns Hopkins Healthscan, Special Olympics International, and the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. He holds dual degrees in Marketing and Journalism from Duquesne University, and has completed a graduate conceptual development program from the School of Visual Arts in New York, NY. Bryan lives in the historic Mt. Vernon neighborhood in Baltimore and volunteers with a number of civic and nonprofit organizations.