About Us

CARE for Kids is a group of research studies aiming to expand our understanding of the genetic causes of birth defects. This study is led by researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center but is open to participants from around the world.

Meet the Researchers

Principal Investigator, Wendy K Chung, MD, PhD

Wendy Chung is the Principal Investigator of the Care for Kids Studies. Dr. Chung directs all research that is conducted by the Care for Kids Studies. She is a clinical and molecular geneticist and the Kennedy Family Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at Columbia   Dr. Chung directs NIH funded research programs in human genetics of birth defects including congenital diaphragmatic hernia, esophageal atresias, and congenital heart disease.    Among her many awards, Dr. Chung was the was the recipient a career development award from Doris Duke, the NY Academy of Medicine Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Biomedical Science, the Rare Impact Award from the National Organization of Rare Disorders, and the  Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.  Dr. Chung has identified over 50 new genetic conditions and has authored over 400 scientific papers. Dr. Chung enjoys the challenges of genetics as a rapidly changing field of medicine and strives to facilitate the integration of genetic medicine into all areas of health care in a medically, scientifically, and ethically sound, accessible, and cost effective manner. 

Study Coordinator, Julia Wynn, MS, CGC

Julia Wynn has been a clinical and research genetic counselor for nearly 15 years. She has been lucky enough to work with hundreds of families who are part of the DHREAMS and CARE for Kids studies. She spends her workdays collecting and analyzing data from research studies, attending meetings, writing grants to receive funding for research, and writing journal articles to share research findings.

Study Coordinator, Priyanka Ahimaz, MS, CGC

Priyanka Ahimaz has been practicing as a genetic counselor for the past 10 years. She is the lead research coordinator of the CARE for Kids-EA/TEF study, which aims to identify genetic causes of esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula. She specializes in caring for patients with cardiomyopathies, connective tissue disorders, and skeletal dysplasias.

Study Coordinator, Emily Griffin, MS, CGC

Emily is a genetic counselor and has been the lead research coordinator for the congenital heart disease study of CARE for Kids since 2016. She loves getting to work with kids and their families to better understand the cause of their heart problems.

Study Coordinator, Becca Hernan, MS, CGC

Becca Hernan is a clinical pediatric genetic counselor and research coordinator. In 2017, she took over as the coordinator for the DHREAMS study, affording her the opportunity to work with families all over the world.

Study Coordinator, Alexa Geltzeiler, ScM, CGC

Alexa Geltzeiler has been a clinical and research genetic counselor in the department of pediatrics at Columbia since Spring 2019. She works on the Simons Searchlight project, one of the largest studies of the genetic causes of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders ever undertaken.

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