NUgene Staff

Rex L Chisholm, PhD

Vice Dean Scientific Affairs and Graduate Education
Professor of Medical Genetics

Dr. Chisholm received both his bachelor's and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan where he was a trainee of the NIH training program in Genetics. As a doctoral student, he investigated recombination between DNA introduced into cells and cellular chromosomes, a process critical for the genetic modification of animal cells. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he developed methods for analyzing the patterns of gene expression during development. Since 1984, Chisholm has been on the faculty of Northwestern University. Author of over 100 scientific papers and abstracts, Chisholm has served as a member of scientific review committees for the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society. He also served as Director of the Biomedical Hands-on-Laboratory of the Science Writing Fellowships Program at the Marine Biological Laboratory. Chisholm received a Basil O'Connor Fellowship from the March of Dimes and was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Currently, Chisholm is director of the Center for Genetic Medicine. As Principal Investigator of NUgene, he plays a lead role in developing tools to translate medical information into a meaningful phenotype. As part of this effort, he is developing a novel ontology, the Disease Ontology, to provide a controlled vocabulary for describing human disease. In addition to his scientific endeavors, Chisholm is especially interested in increasing the public understanding of genetics.

Maureen Smith, MS, CGC

Director
Assistant Professor

Maureen joined the Center for Genetic Medicine as the Clinical Director for the NUgene Project in 2003. She is an assistant professor in Northwestern University’s Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. She has extensive experience in project management, obtaining informed consent for genetic testing and research and developing educational materials on genetic topics for public and professional audiences. Maureen received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1983 from the University of California at Irvine and a Master of Science degree in Human Genetics from Sarah Lawrence College in 1987. She is board certified in Genetic Counseling by the American Board of Medical Genetics (1990) and the American Board of Genetic Counseling (1993). She has over 14 years of genetic counseling experience in the areas of prenatal, pediatric, adult and cancer genetics. Prior to joining the staff on the NUgene Project, Maureen worked for private companies developing genetic educational materials and solutions for the delivery of genetic services. She is currently the co-PI of the Northwestern site in the eMERGE (electronic Medical Records and Genomics) consortia. Maureen has been awarded several clinical research grants and has authored numerous scientific articles and abstracts, as well as articles for the public. She is a member of the American Society of Human Genetics and the National Society of Genetic Counselors. She served as president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors from 1997-1998, where she continues to have an active role in the educational and professional activities of the organization. Maureen is a faculty member of the Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling at Northwestern University, teaching the "Topics in Genetics" course, mentoring student research and organizing seminars on professional topics. Her main research interests are in the professional advancement and training of genetic counselors, the integration of genetics in medical care and the education of health professionals and the public.

Sharon Aufox, MS, CGC

Assistant Professor
Genetic Counselor

Sharon graduated with a Master of Science degree in Human Genetics from the Sarah Lawrence Genetic Counseling Program in 1996. She joined the Center for Genetic Medicine in 2002 after working as a clinical genetic counselor at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC and for Rockford Memorial Hospital in their Hoffman Estates and Elgin satellite clinics. Sharon is currently an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University and is core faculty member of Northwestern’s Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling.

With the NUgene Project, Sharon trains the research coordinators, handles regulatory issues, oversees the quality control of the data collected, and actively participates in designing and executing research under a NIH cooperative grant. Sharon is very involved in both the National Society of Genetic Counselors and the American Board of Genetic Counseling, serving on several committees and task forces. Currently, she is on the Board of Directors of the American Board of Genetic Counseling and is the chair of the National Society of Genetic Counselors' Research Special Interest Group, which focuses on the roles that genetic counselors can have in all aspects of genetic research. Within the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program, Sharon co-teaches the Research Methods course, has been a thesis advisor and committee member on numerous students’ research projects, and serves on several committees.

Jennifer Pacheco

IT Informatics Lead

Jennifer joined the Center for Genetic Medicine as the Informatics Lead for the NUgene Project in 2005. Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in computer science, with a minor in psychology; a post-baccalaureate certificate in biology; a graduate certificate in bioinformatics; and is currently working towards a master’s degree in biomedical informatics. Her main role within NUgene is to work with researchers, both internally and externally, to extract de-identified phenotypic information from the EHR (electronic health record), including co-leading this work for NU for the eMERGE project. Jennifer also co-leads the technical operation for the NUgene Project, where she provides customized, secure database and application solutions for the biobank. Jennifer has experience with a variety of web, data analysis, and other programming languages, tools, and technologies. Prior to joining the Center for Genetic Medicine, she traveled around the world as a data mining consultant for one of the leading global consulting companies based in Chicago, Illinois; and also worked for a Cambridge, MA pharmaceutical company where she developed dynamic web pages and configured scientific software.

Tony Miqueli

Software Developer

Tony joined the Center for Genetic Medicine in October 2007 as a Software Engineer for the NUgene Project. Tony graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Georgia in 1999. Upon graduation, Tony worked for a nationally known software consulting firm, Software Architects, in Atlanta building custom N-tier software solutions. Prior to joining the NUgene Project, Tony was building web and database applications for Restaurant.com.

Tina P. Ward, MS

Research Project Cooridinator

Tina joined the Center for Genetic Medicine in 2015 as a Research Project Coordinator for the NUgene Project. Tina manages the NUgene DNA sample database for over 11,000 samples and distributes samples to researchers worldwide. Tina graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Illinois University in 2006. Tina started her career in 2009 as a Research Assistant for North Shore University Health Systems. During this time she mastered novel techniques of research science for a colorectal chemoprevention lab. Tina furthered here career as a Research Technologist II at Northwestern University in 2012 for the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. In 2014 Tina was recruited as a Senior Research Study Coordinator for the Pathology Core Facility-Clinical Trials Unit during the critical time of restructuring the department. Tina graduated with a Master of Science in Health Communication in 2015 from Northwestern University.

Christie Hoell, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Christie joined the Center for Genetic Medicine as the Program Manager for the eMERGE Project in 2016. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Genetics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2008 and her Master of Science degree in Genetic Counseling from the Northwestern University Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling in 2011. She has been board certified in Genetic Counseling by the American Board of Genetic Counseling since 2011. Prior to arriving at the Center for Genetic Medicine, Christie was a prenatal genetic counselor in the Center for Maternal and Fetal Health at NorthShore University HealthSystem. She is currently an Instructor in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and a core faculty member for the Northwestern University Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling. Christie is also actively involved with the National Society of Genetic Counselors, as well as the Genetic Task Force of Illinois. She served on the board of the Genetic Task Force of Illinois as secretary and president.