Date Last Updated: May 20, 2013
Paul Law, MD, MPH, MS, FAAP, Director
Paul Law is IAN's Director. When he was in medical school at Johns Hopkins University, his son was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). Since then, Paul's goal has been to develop shared resources that facilitate autism research. In 1997, in conjunction with the Cure Autism Now Foundation, Paul developed the Internet System for Assessing Autistic Children (ISAAC). This web-based system enables research projects to manage clinical data. Currently ISAAC is used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and academic institutions throughout the world.
Dr. Law is excited about the potential for the IAN Project. "Because the Internet is so widely used, IAN will allow researchers and families to form an unprecedented partnership that will allow for a dramatic acceleration in our understanding of autism and how to treat it."
Kiely Law, MD, MPH, Research Director
Dr. Kiely Law is responsible for developing and implementing IAN's research agenda. 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 also been impacted personally by autism. In 1996, her 3-year-old son was diagnosed with the disorder at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. During the past 5 years, Dr. Law has worked on many autism-related initiatives with her husband, Dr. Paul Law. The Laws live in Baltimore, Maryland and are the parents of four children.
"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 Disorders; 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 everyday. 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, Internet community designer, and software 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.
"My family is full of people on the spectrum," says Cheryl, "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. I hope IAN will harness 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 is now teaching at the University of Baltimore and 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 Dr. Law on the ISAAC project, 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 Coordinator
Alison handles statistical, analytical, and data matters, plus Institutional Review Board submissions. She also spends a lot of time writing academic publications, such as papers and posters.
Alison earned a PhD 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 (KKI). She spent more than two years as the Data Manager of REACH (Research and Education for Autism in Children) at KKI's Center for Autism and Related Disorders before joining IAN.
Alison lives with her husband, son, and a tabby cat in Pikesville, Maryland. Her daughter, Sarah (Marvin) Bacon, is an extern with IAN. Sarah lives with her husband in New York.
Tara Zandi, MA, MSW, 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 is a part-time school social work intern at Kennedy Krieger High School. Tara lives in Baltimore with her husband, and their cat, Lola.
Elisabeth Arthur, Research Assistant and Community Coordinator
As IAN's Community Coordinator, Elisabeth's primary focus is on 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 and worked with children and adults with autism and developmental disabilities prior to joining the IAN Project. She is a graduate of the University of Rochester with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.
Sowmya Nath, Medical Writer/Online Community Facilitator
Sowmya writes research-based articles of relevance to individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families, and edits content for iancommunity.org. She earned her master’s in New Media Journalism and has a background in television journalism.
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 been studying web development.
Eleeshabah Yahudah, Administrative Assistant
Eleeshabah ensures that IAN's day-to-day office operations run smoothly and efficiently. She has bachelor's and master's degrees in Social Work.
The eighth of nine siblings who grew up in Baltimore City, her passion is working with youth and their families. In addition to her volunteer work as a youth mentor and co-facilitator for parenting classes at Baltimore City Department of Social Services, In-Home Aide Services, she has served on the Baltimore Community Foundation's Youth As Resources Board of Directors for nearly eight years. Though relatively new to the field of autism, Eleeshabah says, "I see the passion and commitment that families, doctors, and researchers have, and I feel as though this is where I can help make a difference, too."
Bryan Stark, AVP Marketing & PR, Kennedy Krieger Institute; Director of Marketing, IAN Project
Bryan oversees all marketing planning and implementation for the IAN Project. An integral member of the Institute's senior staff, he brings a wealth of strategic planning, brand development, 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 Baltimore City and is currently training for his first triathlon.
Elise Babbitt-Welker, Communications Manager, Kennedy Krieger Institute
As Communications Manager, Elise handles publicity and media relations for all clinical, research, and educational programs at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, including the IAN Project. With a background in agency public relations, she has experience with a variety of clients in the healthcare, technology, and consumer product fields. Elise holds a degree in American Politics from the University of Virginia. Elise lives in Baltimore City.