Housed in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School (HMS), we believe that teaching and writing about the use of genetic information in the public domain is an integral part of our work. Founded in 2006, we are a diverse mix of scientists and educators engaging with science policy, curriculum reform, and – more broadly – the ways in which genetic information might transform health care, basic research, insurance, law, and our ideas about family, privacy, and identity.
Marnie Gelbart, Ph.D.Director of Programs
Marnie is leading initiatives for advancing national awareness about the benefits as well as ethical, legal, and social implications of knowing one’s genome. She is the scientific advisor for pgEd’s curriculum and leads professional development trainings and classroom workshops for teachers and students. Marnie is a member of the Information & Education Committee of the American Society of Human Genetics. Previously, she served on the educational advisory committee for the Smithsonian exhibit “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code” and was an invited participant at the 2011 NHGRI workshop on genomic literacy. She organizes Congressional briefings and the GETed Conference, works with television writers and producers in conjunction with Hollywood, Health & Society, and is expanding the interactive online tool Map-Ed. Prior to joining pgEd, Marnie was a post-doctoral fellow at Brigham & Women’s Hospital investigating the role of chromosome organization in gene regulation. She received her B.S. in biology from Haverford College and her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Mohammed Hannan, M.Sc.Community Liaison
Mohammed’s particular focus as part of pgEd is to raise awareness on personal genetics in South Asian and Middle Eastern countries. He helps pgEd organize meetings, seminars, and symposia. He received his M.Sc. in Wildlife Conservation Biology from University of Chittagong, Bangladesh, and was awarded a Global Fellowship at Duke University Marine Laboratory in 2008 to study Sea Turtle and Marine Biodiversity. Currently, he is a Research Assistant in Ting Wu’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School. Mohammed works with the Oligopaints technology and its potential for visualizing entire genomes of all organisms to unfold their unknown mysteries. As he works with genetic tools and their prospects, Mohammed is eager to increase awareness in faith-based communities and engage them on the topic of personal genetics.
Clifford JonesCommunity Liaison
I am a student as well as a youth mentor and community leader, with a primary focus of raising awareness about personal genetics. I got involved with pgEd shortly after meeting with Dr. Wu in my high school classroom. She spoke about how genetics is getting more personal due to the rapid growth of the field assisted by technological advances. Ever since, I have been eager to learn more and then share my knowledge with others, encouraging them to explore the benefits and risks of knowing their genetic makeup.
Johnny Kung, Ph.D.Director of New Initiatives
Johnny’s role is to help expand the reach of pgEd to underserved communities in Boston and beyond, to ensure that all communities are engaged in important conversations about the implications and benefits of genetic technologies. He is broadly interested in the legal, ethical and policy issues at the interface of genetics and society, and worked with pgEd on classroom workshops and publications during his graduate studies. Johnny received his H.B.Sc. in Biochemistry from University of Toronto, and his Ph.D. in Developmental and Regenerative Biology from Harvard University, with a secondary field of study in Science, Technology and Society, as well as a certificate in Human Biology and Translational Medicine. Before returning to pgEd, he was a science writer and project manager for Science Education videos at the Journal of Visualized Experiments.
Fabienne Mondesir, M.A.T.Joining the pgEd team in September
Fabienne Mondesir is a veteran teacher, currently in her 13th year with Boston Public Schools, and in her 10th year as a biology teacher at Boston Latin Academy. Fabienne earned her BA in Psychobiology/animal behavior from Wheaton College and a Masters in the Art of Teaching Science (M.A.T) from Tufts University. Fabienne has been very passionate about incorporating race science including the biology of skin, Eugenics, and pseudo-scientific practices that have influenced and shaped policies and practices from the 14th century to the present, into her curriculum. Fabienne strongly believes that “it is the birth right of every student to see themselves in the content they learn each and everyday” (Fenway High school teacher, Lissette Castillo). Fabienne is also 2012 Fund for Teachers Fellow, having been awarded a grant to visit Haiti and the Dominican Republic to research scientific and historical practices of colonization that lead up to the current practice of apátrida, or citizenship denial of Dominican citizens of Haitian decent in the Dominican Republic. Fabienne is very excited to continue working and sharing with the pgEd family.
Tsion TesfayeWashington, D.C. Liaison
Tsion brings expertise on the issues at the nexus of bioethics and public policy and handles all the groundwork for pgEd’s Congressional briefings in Washington, D.C. She was a research fellow at the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, where she examined bioethical issues in persons living with disabilities, medical scope of practice legislation, and the use of games to promote public health in medically underserved communities. She received her B.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University and previously worked in the rural health care division of USAC, a Federal Communications Commission program. She currently works as a patient engagement specialist at Evolent Health.
Lauren Tomaselli, M.EdDirector of Curriculum and Training
Lauren leads pgEd’s effort to develop scientifically precise and engaging curriculum for use in middle, high school and college classrooms, with a special emphasis on accessibility to learners of all levels and backgrounds. She organizes and executes professional development workshops to train teachers about the ethical and social issues in personal genetics, and presents at local, regional and national conferences. She especially enjoys when she can work with students. Recent projects include writing new curriculum, holding professional development workshops, and launching a pilot of pgEd’s lessons with teachers in New England. Lauren received her B.A. in English and Women’s Studies from Syracuse University, and her Masters of Social Studies Education from New York University. She taught social studies in New York City public schools for six years and brings an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum planning, allowing pgEd to create materials not just for biology classrooms, but also social studies, history, English and law classes.
Dana Waring, M.L.AEducation Director and Co-founder of pgEd
Dana’s role as Education Director includes speaking at national forums, such as the GET Conference and meetings of the National Science Teachers Association about the promises and emerging questions in widespread genome sequencing. Her expertise includes the social, familial and legal landscape in personal genetics, and she has a special interest in newborn screening, the genetics of complex traits, and reproductive technology. Dana develops educational materials and conducts courses and workshops with a focus on the use and impact of personal genetics throughout the world. Her training in sociology, history of science, and women’s studies allows her to bring an interdisciplinary approach to her teaching and curricula that includes of a diversity of viewpoints. Recent projects include teaching in the Summer Course in Genomics at Mount Desert Island Biology Lab and developing new content for pgEd’s website. Based in both Massachusetts and Maine, Dana has travelled extensively and talked with thousands of students about personal genetics and how it may impact them personally and as a member of society. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University, and a Master of Liberal Arts from Harvard University.
Ting Wu, Ph.D.Director and Co-founder of pgEd, Professor of Genetics
Ting is involved in all aspects of pgEd, including teaching in high schools, workshops, and conferences across the nation, contributing to the online curricula, organizing Congressional briefings and the GETed conferences, working with producers and writers in the entertainment industry, and developing Map-Ed. Ting is also a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, where her research group studies the manner in which chromosome structure and behavior govern inheritance and genome activity (http://www.homologyeffects.org/). She received her B.A. from Harvard University in Biology and her Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School in Genetics. She did her postdoctoral training at Yale University and the Station for Natural Studies, after which she was a Fellow in Molecular Biology at the Massachusetts General Hospital. She is now a Professor in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Most recently, Dr. Wu was honored as a recipient of a five-year NIH Director’s 2012 Pioneer Award for her work on chromosome organization and inheritance.