Debbie contracted TM in 1996 when she was 45 years old. At the time she and her husband owned a remodeling contracting firm. Through self-administered physical therapy (using her Jeep clutch and rubber bands for resistance), one year after she was diagnosed, Debbie was able to walk without assistance with minor balance problems. Her experience dealing with bad doctors and insurance companies in handling her treatment inspired Debbie to return to school to become a medical insurance biller. Ultimately she became a Medical Practice Administrator, which she has been for the past 15 years. Debbie found the TMA by typing “transverse myelitis” into the internet which connected her with Jim Lubin and the Transverse Myelitis Internet Club. Her involvement in the club led to her appointment as Secretary of the Association in 1997.
Bruce L. Downey
Mr. Downey currently works as a Partner in NewSpring Health Capital II, L.P. Mr. Downey was formerly Chairman and CEO of Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a global specialty pharmaceutical company that operated in more than 30 countries worldwide. Prior to joining Barr, Downey was a capital partner in Winston & Strawn, and a predecessor firm, Bishop, Cook, Purcell and Reynolds. In 1979, he founded Baller & Downey, which later merged with Bishop, Cook, Purcell and Reynolds. Mr. Downey began his legal career in the Honors Program at the U.S. Department of Justice. He later worked as a Special Litigation Counsel at the U.S. Department of Energy. He also served on the Board of Editors of The Ohio State University Law Journal and was elected to the Order of the Coif. Mr. Downey is a former director of Warner Chilcott. In 2006 and 2007, Mr. Downey served as the Chairman of the Board for the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA). Mr. Downey is currently the Chair of the Board of Ambassadors for Johns Hopkins’ Project RESTORE, and he also serves on the Boards of Cardinal Health, Momenta Pharmaceuticals, and the Boards of three private pharmaceutical companies.
Anjali Forber-Pratt, PhD
Anjali J. Forber-Pratt, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Human & Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University. Her research agenda adopts a social-ecological framework and looks at issues surrounding identity, equity and empowerment through methodology for individuals who are different in some way, with a large focus on disability. She completed her degrees the University of Illinois.
Outside of the academy, Dr. Forber-Pratt was also a member of Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games. As a Paralympic medalist in the sport of wheelchair racing, she has dedicated her life to helping others recognize their potential. Dr. Forber-Pratt acquired transverse myelitis as an infant. She helps to develop and further Paralympic sport in developing nations and is actively involved in the world of disability sport across the United States. Dr. Forber-Pratt co-authored an educational kids’ coloring book about disabled sports titled, “Color Learn & Play: All About Sports for Athletes with Physical Disabilities”.
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) has also recognized her leadership abilities by awarding her the prestigious 2013 Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award, given to emerging leaders within the national disability community. Dr. Forber-Pratt has appeared on several television programs and radio shows including: NPR; The Stream; and Sesame Street; and has been quoted in the national print press, including The Boston Globe, New York Times, Huffington Post, USA Today, and Runner’s World. She was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change in 2013 and had an opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion with President Obama about disability policy issues.
Benjamin M. Greenberg, MD
Dr. Benjamin Greenberg received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University and his Masters Degree in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended medical school at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Then, he completed an internship in medicine at Rush Presbyterian-St. Lukes Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois before going on to his residency in neurology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. He then joined the faculty within the division of neuroimmunology at Hopkins and became the co-director of the Transverse Myelitis Center and director of the Encephalitis Center. In January of 2009 he was recruited to the faculty at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center where he was named Deputy Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program and Director of the new Transverse Myelitis and Neuromyelitis Optica Program. That same year he established the Pediatric Demyelinating Disease Program at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.
Dr. Greenberg is recognized internationally as an expert in rare autoimmune disorders of the central nervous system (e.g. transverse myelitis, neuromyelitis optica, ADEM and autoimmune encephalitis). He splits his clinical time between seeing both adult and pediatric patients. He routinely consults on the inpatient units of University Hospital, Zale Lipshy, Parkland and Children’s. His research interests are in both the diagnosis and treatment of transverse myelitis, neuromyelitis optica, encephalitis, multiples sclerosis and infections of the nervous system. He is actively involved in developing better ways to diagnose and prognosticate for patients with these disorders. He has led an effort to improve biorepository development and has created uniform protocols for sample handling and analysis. As part of this initiative his research has identified novel biomarkers that may be able to distinguish between patients with various neurologic disorders. He also coordinates trials that study new treatments to prevent neurologic damage and restore function to those who have already been affected. He currently serves as the Director of the Neurosciences Clinical Research Center and is a Cain Denius Foundation Scholar.
Peter C. Johnson, MD
Peter C. Johnson, MD is a University of Notre Dame and SUNY Upstate Medical University graduate. After General and Plastic Surgery training, Dr. Johnson practiced reconstructive surgery for ten years at U. Pittsburgh where he founded and was the first President of the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative. Subsequent roles were co-founder/CEO of TissueInformatics, EVP of Life Sciences, CMO and CBO of Icoria, EVP, Entegrion, Inc. and VP, Research and Development and Medical and Scientific Affairs of Vancive Medical Technologies, an Avery Dennison business. He presently serves as President and CEO of Scintellix, LLC and Chief Medical Advisor to Vancive Medical Technologies. He has chaired the Plastic Surgery Research Council, was President of the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Association and the Tissue Engineering Society, International and is presently the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the three-part Journal, Tissue Engineering. He serves on the Industry Committee of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) on the board of the Transverse Myelitis Association and on the Industry Advisory Board of the UNC/NC State Joint Program in Bioengineering. He is an Adjunct Professor of Surgery, Bioengineering and Business at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, of Bioengineering at NC State and of Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He is an avid cook, fly fisherman, artist and novelist.
Douglas A. Kerr, MD, PhD
Dr. Kerr is Director, Experimental Neurology at Biogen Idec, where he directs clinical development programs for ALS and other autoimmune diseases. Prior to joining Biogen Idec in 2010, Dr. Kerr spent 14 years at Johns Hopkins as an associate professor of Neurology in The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He established the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center and also founded and directed the Johns Hopkins Project RESTORE, a multidisciplinary effort dedicated to advancement of treatments for autoimmune neurologic disorders. In 2006, Dr. Kerr was awarded the Derek Denny-Brown Young Neurological Scholar Award from the American Neurological Association as one who “has achieved a significant stature in neurological research and whose promise of continuing major contributions to the field of neurology is anticipated.”
Chitra Krishnan, Executive Director
Chitra’s journey with the TMA began in 2001 when she joined the newly formed Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center funded through a grant from the TMA. In 2004, she co-founded and led as Executive Director, an initiative called Project RESTORE at Hopkins, to expand institutional research and patient care out into the community and be a vehicle of change to transform the way diseases are traditionally studied. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Ambassadors of Project RESTORE and is an adjunct Research Associate in the Department of Neurology. Prior to joining full-time as the Executive Director of the TMA, Chitra was the Director of Knowledge and Learning at Ashoka Changemakers, a non-profit that creates opportunities for organizations, corporations, and individuals to drive meaningful and measurable social change. Currently she continues to help lead some of the health initiatives at Ashoka. She holds a Masters in Health Systems Management from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Jim was diagnosed with TM in 1989 when he was 21. Jim is a C2 quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down and ventilator dependent. In 1996 Jim started the Transverse Myelitis Internet Club email list-group to connect people with TM. Jim was the New Mobility Magazine’s 1998 Person of the Year. Jim performed all of the Internet and web site work for the TMA prior to 2012. Jim has been written about extensively in books and magazines. He is an inspiration for everyone in the TM community and for everyone who knows him.
Linda Malecky received her MBA from Pennsylvania State University before working for 15 years in corporate finance. She is now a full time mother to three children. In addition to her responsibilities as Treasurer of the TMA, she hopes to be an effective advocate for children with TM, ADEM, NMO, and ON.
Carlos A. Pardo-Villamizar, MD
Dr. Pardo is an Associate Professor of Neurology (Division of Neuroimmunology and Neuroinfectious Disorders) and Pathology (Neuropathology) at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the principal investigator of the Neuroimmunopathology Laboratory, member of the HIV Neurosciences Research Group and clinical neurologist at the Multiple Sclerosis and Transverse Myelitis Centers at Johns Hopkins Hospital. His clinical specialization is on neuroimmunological and Infectious disorders of the nervous system, with particular focus on multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis, neurosarcoidosis, and neurological complications of autoimmune disorders.
Jason Robbins is a graduate of the University of Florida and St. Thomas University School of Law where he earned his Juris Doctorate. He is a member of the Florida Bar, American Bar Association and the Florida Worker’s Compensation section of the Florida Bar. In November 2011, Jason and Tina’s 10 year old daughter, Sarah, was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis. Sarah is a fighter and has been unwavering in her fight to get her lower body and legs moving again. She serves as an inspiration to Jason, his wife Tina and the family.
After receiving a BA in history and sociology from University of Denver and an MA in sociology from University of Arizona, Barbara, at the age of 29, decided to attend law school. Following law school graduation from University of Arizona School of Law in 1981, she worked at a public defender’s office for six years as a trial attorney where she tried over 50 cases and won a first degree murder case. She then entered into private practice in criminal law, where she worked for the next 11 years. After taking time off for her son, she was recruited to be a city court magistrate in Tucson, Arizona. During her six years as a magistrate, Barbara contracted Transverse Myelitis. She took four months to recover before returning to work and was later appointed to the superior court bench. Barbara retired in 2008. Since retirement she has written a novel and has committed the publication’s proceeds to the TMA. She is currently working on her second novel.
Sanford J. Siegel
Sandy got involved with the TMA shortly after his wife, Pauline, contracted TM in 1994 at the age of 35. At the time of her onset, Pauline was a kindergarten teacher. Currently she is a fourth grade teacher in a public school district in central Ohio. Sandy has been an officer and a board member of the TMA since its inception. Sandy has also served as the TMA’s newsletter and journal editor during his more than two decades of service to the organization. Sandy is a cultural anthropologist with specializations in Native Americans, psychological anthropology and culture change. Sandy has worked as an adjunct professor at Capital University, Franklin University, the Urban/Rural Program of the College of Great Falls, and the Intertribal Education Center of the Fort Belknap Reservation. Sandy retired from the State of Ohio in 2011 after more than 35 years of service. Sandy returned to college in the fall of 2011 and is a photography student at Columbus State Community College. Sandy and Pauline have two sons, four grandsons and one granddaughter.