The GEMS Board of Directors has 13 members, including a president, president-elect, secretary, treasurer, and 9 councilors. The Board meets monthly to plan and prepare for the two annual GEMS meetings.


Brian Chorley, Ph.D., is molecular biologist with training in cellular biology and genomics. Dr. Chorley completed his PhD in 2005 from North Carolina State University where he studied the signaling mechanisms of inflammation and mucin production in airway epithelial cells. He continued his research as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park, where he studied the genetic influences on NRF2 antioxidant signaling pathway activation. In 2010, he began his current position as Principal Investigator in the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL) at the US Environmental Protection Agency where he currently studies genetic and epigenetic biomarkers of adverse human health outcomes after chemical exposure. He also leads EPA task groups which study Adverse Outcome Pathway development of liver steatosis and high-throughput assay design to test for CYP-mediated biotransformation of environmental chemical toxicity. He is a lifetime GEMS member, former councilor on the Boards of Directors, and current President-Elect. Dr. Chorley currently lives in Raleigh, NC with his wife and two sons.


Holly Mortensen, M.Sc., Ph.D., received her BS from the University of California, Davis, her M.Sc. from Stanford University, and her Ph.D. in Human Genetics from the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Mortensen completed her postdoctoral work at the EPA’s National Center for Computational Toxicology, where her projects included defining toxicity related pathways for all annotated human genes, using chemical and disease association and drug target information, data implemented in assay prioritization efforts for the EPA’s ToxCast program. Dr. Mortensen is currently a Bioinformaticist with the Genomic and Bioinformatics Research Core at EPA’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL).  Dr. Mortensen is working to establish a computational framework and related database for the analysis of taxonomic applicability of adverse outcome pathways of interest to the US EPA. 


Nisha S. Sipes, Ph.D., is a Health Science Evaluator in the Biomolecular Screening Branch of the Division of the National Toxicology Program (NTP)/NIEHS. She researches ways to make toxicity testing more efficient and informative using the NTP Tox21 High Throughput Screening data, publicly available data, in vitro to in vivo extrapolation techniques, and computational methods. Before joining the NTP in 2014, Dr. Sipes performed similar analyses toward developmental toxicity as a postdoctoral fellow with the National Center for Computational Toxicology within the U.S. EPA. She obtained her Ph.D. from the Department of Cell and Cancer Biology, as well as an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Sipes has been recognized with several awards at national and international meetings, including Best Postdoctoral Publication Award from SOT and the Maire W. Taubeneck Award from the Teratology Society (2012). With regard to leadership roles, Dr. Sipes serves on the Membership Committee (2014-present) and Communications Working Group (2016-present) for the Teratology Society, on the Editorial Board for Frontiers in Predictive Toxicology (2012-present) and Reproductive Toxicology (2015-present), and is the NTP lead on the Tox21 Informatics Workgroup (2014-present). In addition, she was the Vice-President for the Network and Leadership Training Organization (2011-2013), Program Committee Member for Teratology Society (2010-2013), and has Chaired and Co-Chaired several symposia for the Society of Toxicology and the Teratology Society (2011-2016). Dr. Sipes has attended a number of Genetics and Environmental Mutagenesis Society meetings and is looking to become an active member in this local Society.


Lisa Smeester, M.S., is a Research Specialist in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering in UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health, where she is actively involved in UNC's Superfund Research Program as well as several collaborations with the UNC Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. ​Her research interests include using systems biology and toxicogenomic approaches to investigate epigenetic mechanisms of metal-induced disease, with a focus on prenatal and early life exposures. Prior to joining UNC, she spent several years studying AlkB-mediated direct repair of DNA alkylation damage at MIT’s Center for Environmental Health Sciences. Ms. Smeester received her B.S. from Simmons College in Boston, and her M.S. from the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering in Gillings, where she studied the role of arsenic as an immunomodulatory agent in children chronically exposed to arsenic via their drinking water. She has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, and is a member of the Association for Women in Science and a lifetime member of GEMS. In addition to the financial responsibilities of her role as Manager of the Fry Lab, she has extensive experience serving as Treasurer for various university and community based organizations in the greater Boston area.

2017-2019 COUNCILORS

Tom Hughes, M.S.,  was the co-founder of GEMS in 1983.  He has served as the GEMS President three times and has been on the BOD as Councilor, Treasurer, Corporate Sponsor Coordinator and Vice President.  He was awarded the GEMS Lifetime Achievement Award at the Annual Meeting in 2015.  He has been a QA and Records Manager at the US EPA for the past 17 years and a laboratory scientist at the US EPA for five years prior to being a QA and Records Manager.  Scientifically, he was involved in the World Trade Center (WTC) research, where a 20 member Team exposed mice to dusts from the WTC immediately after the 9/11/01 disaster and in the Penobscot River Study in Maine where the water, sediment and drinking water of the Penobscot River and the fish and plants were investigate for toxicity for the Penobscot Indian Nation.  Previous to being at the US EPA, Tom was a Principal Investigator in two contract labs for twenty years, were he conducted GLP testing for industrial clients, and where he conducted toxicology testing for industry, NCI, EPA and NTP.  Tom was the U.S. EPA QA Manager of the Year in 2002 and was a US EPA National Honor Award winner in 2014 for his work with the Penobscot Indians.  He will retire from the US EPA after 22 years on October 29, 2016 but has a great desire to continue supporting the mission of GEMS.  

Catherine (Cathy) Sprankle, M.S., is a Senior Communications Specialist at ILS, an RTP company that provides toxicity testing and related services to NIEHS, EPA, and other government and commercial clients. Cathy's group supports the NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM), which develops and evaluates non-animal methods for chemical safety testing. Cathy manages the NICEATM website, writes articles on NICEATM activities for the NIEHS newsletter, and assists the NICEATM group with writing and editing scientific manuscripts, poster presentations, and other documents. Prior to joining ILS, Cathy spent over 20 years working as a lab scientist for a number of RTP-area institutions including NC State University, GlaxoSmithKline, and NIEHS. She was an active member of GEMS in the 1980s and 1990s during her 10 years working for CIIT (later the Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences), and won the Best Poster Presentation award at the Fall 1993 meeting. Her other honors include recognition by the Society for Technical Communication for her work as editor of the ICCVAM Biennial Progress report, which NICEATM produces; the 2011-2012 edition of the report received a Distinguished Technical Communication award, the highest possible award, in the 2013 STC national competition. Cathy earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Virginia and her master’s degree in technical communication from NC State. Her diverse interests are reflected by her many volunteer activities: highlights include volunteering for over 30 years at Raleigh Little Theatre, during which time she has done just about everything except direct a play; developing an online planning and operations manual for the Sanderson High School’s annual marching band competition; serving on the Citizen Planning Committee for a Raleigh park currently under development; and giving guest lessons on toxicology and genetics to students at York Elementary and Daniels Middle Schools.

Natalia Ryan, Ph.D.
(formerly VanDuyn), is a toxicologist in the Human Safety – Regulatory Toxicology group at Bayer CropScience.  Her current role involves the analysis and interpretation of high-throughput screening data (including ToxCast and Tox21) for Bayer active ingredients and participating in efforts to improve and expand internal early toxicology screening methods to refine the product development process.  Dr. Ryan also contributes to industry work groups related to computational toxicology and risk assessment.  Dr. Ryan earned her PhD in Toxicology from Indiana University School of Medicine in 2014 where she studied the molecular mechanisms of methylmercury toxicity in
C. elegans under the guidance of Dr. Richard Nass.  To expand her expertise in mechanisms of toxicity, she pursued an ORISE postdoctoral fellowship in the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL) at the US EPA in Research Triangle Park, NC under the mentorship of Drs. Brian Chorley and Chris Corton.  The main focus of her work was integrating genomics into predictive toxicology and creating gene expression biomarkers for nuclear receptor activation to aid in the development of adverse outcome pathways.  She also participated in the High-throughput Toxicity Testing and Cancer Adverse Outcome Pathway task groups and was involved in the Networking and Leadership Training Organization (NLTO).  She has been a member of the Society of Toxicology for eight years and the Molecular and Systems Biology, In Vitro and Alternative Methods and Carcinogenesis Specialty Sections, earning several awards for her research.  Dr. Ryan joined GEMS in 2014 and was the recipient of the Best Talk Award at the 2014 annual fall meeting.  

2016-2018 COUNCILORS

Jenna Currier, Ph.D., is a toxicologist with eight years of multi-disciplinary research experience encompassing analytical chemistry, epidemiology, genomics, bioinformatics, risk assessment, and computational model development. Dr. Currier completed her Ph.D. in 2013 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under the direction of Dr. Miroslav Styblo. Her research projects focused on the assessment of susceptibility to chronic arsenic toxicity through the optimization of an analytical technique for quantifying toxic trivalent arsenic species in complex biological samples. This work included international collaborations and NIH-funded cohort studies, resulting in four first-authored and eight co-authored peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Currier is a current postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. EPA through the Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education under the mentorship of Drs. Brian Chorley and Rory Conolly. She is investigating the underlying mechanisms that differentiate cellular responses to oxidative exposures in human lung cells for the purpose of biomarker discovery and predictive model development using a systems biology approach. Dr. Currier’s research efforts have been recognized with several awards at local and national meetings including the GEM’s supported Emerging Scientist Award presented at the 2015 annual EMGS meeting. Dr. Currier is also the current President of the Networking and Leadership Training Organization, which provides networking and career development opportunities for trainees at the U.S. EPA in RTP. 

Caren Weinhouse, Ph.D., is currently a Postdoctoral Associate in the Duke Global Health Institute (PI: William Pan), studying population epigenetic responses to environmental mercury exposure in gold mining communities in the Peruvian Amazon. She received her Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences (2015; PI: Dana Dolinoy) and her M.P.H. in Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology (2011; PI: Dana Dolinoy) from University of Michigan. In her dissertation, she reported epigenetic alterations linked to increased risk for liver cancer in isogenic adult mice exposed perinatally to bisphenol A.  She is interested in translating mechanistic toxicology and epigenetics research in animals to global environmental epidemiology settings, with the goal of protecting vulnerable populations in developing countries from unregulated exposures to environmental toxicants. She an active member of the Society of Toxicology and the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society.

Nagu Keshava, Ph.D, is currently a Senior Toxicologist at National Center for Environmental Assessment, Office of Research and Development (ORD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington DC, USA. Prior to moving to EPA, she was at the Centers for Disease Control – National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (CDC/NIOSH). She graduated with a Ph.D. from West Virginia University majoring in Genetics and Developmental Biology. Her areas of scientific expertise and interests include genetic toxicology, mode of action, risk assessment and cancer biology. At EPA, she has led or contributed to risk assessments and provided scientific support to program offices within EPA and other federal agencies. She was the President of Genetics and Environmental Mutagenesis Society (2011-2012) and organized both fall and spring meetings. She is also a lifetime member of the society. In addition, she is a member of other professional societies including the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society and the Society of toxicology.  Dr. Keshava has received numerous awards both within and outside of EPA for her scientific contributions. She has authored or co-authored over 40 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in journals including Cancer Research and Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. She has also contributed to numerous governmental and intergovernmental reports. Dr. Keshava has served on several committees, organized and chaired workshops and symposium at the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society and other organizations. 

2015-2017 COUNCILORS

Michelle Campbell, M.S., is a molecular biologist with 19 years of laboratory research experience in molecular biology, genomics and epigenetics.  She completed her Masters in Biotechnology (MB) from the Univ. of Pennsylvania in 2003 in the laboratory of Dr. Olena Jacenko where she studied the mechanistic link between skeletal development and blood cell differentiation in bone marrow.  She then took a Biologist position at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park, NC in the environmental genomics laboratory under the direction of Dr. Douglas Bell.  For the past 12 years, her research in Dr. Bell’s lab has focused on the discovery and functional analysis of characterizing genetic and epigenetic variations of AhR, p53 and NRF2-mediated responses due to environmental exposure.   Ms. Campbell received a 2013 National Institutes of Health Merit Award and has been a GEMS lifetime member and BOD councilor since 2014. Ms. Campbell currently lives in Durham, NC with her husband and two daughters.

Janice Lee, Ph.D.,is a Health Scientist at the U.S. EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA), Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program. Dr. Lee was a toxicologist at the Division of Public Health in Madison, Wisconsin from 2002-2005. She was the technical consultant for environmental exposure assessment and health risk assessment, as well as being the lead toxicologist for developing the public health response to chemical hazards and threats. Prior to joining NCEA in 2008, Dr. Lee was a postdoctoral fellow in the Toxicogenomics Core in the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL) at EPA where she received training in aging/lifestages and transcriptomics. Dr. Lee received her Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of Michigan in 2002 where her doctoral work focused on arsenic chemistry and health effects. She is interested in susceptibility and the application of genomics to risk assessment. She is currently leading the IRIS Toxicological Review of tert-butanol, and is co-chemical manager of the inorganic arsenic toxicological review. She is also the NCEA representative for the 211(b) review of fuel/fuel additives. She has published several peer reviewed manuscripts and book chapters, as well as being a reviewer for various scientific journals.      

Erin Pias Hines, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., has worked as a Biologist US EPA, National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) since 2008 doing hazard identification and risk characterization on health effects of exposure to the criteria air pollutants (Ozone, Particulate Matter, Oxides of Nitrogen, Oxides of Sulfur, Lead, Carbon Monoxide) as mandated under the Clean Air Act via generation of Integrated Science Assessment Documents. Erin is a board certified toxicologist with expertise in reproductive and developmental toxicology, cancer biology, epigenetics, and neurobiology.  Before working with NCEA, she was a postdoctoral fellow with the US EPA National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Reproductive Toxicology Division, Developmental Biology Branch. Her postdoctoral studies included an epidemiologic biomonitoring study on breastfeeding North Carolina women (Methods Advancement for Milk Analysis-MAMA Study) for chemicals from the NHANES panel of environmental chemicals, as well as concentrations of endogenous biologics (estrogens, glucose, cytokines) in the same media. She also did laboratory rodent experiments on adult outcomes (obesity, glucose tolerance, insulin, obesity) of early life PFOA exposure. Erin’s Ph.D. is in physiology from LSUHSC-Shreveport where she studied redox imbalance using neurotoxicants; Erin was named Outstanding instructor for the Allied Health course that she co-taught at LSUHSC. Erin is a graduate from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN and was a Presidental Scholarship recipient there as well as a SCAC All-Conference Basketball Player. Erin has received multiple awards from the US EPA including two STAA Level III Awards, and two EPA Bronze Medal Awards. Erin has served or is serving as co-chair of the EPA’s Women in Science and Engineering group, chair of the Society of Toxicology Committee on Diversity Initiatives, and secretary for the Society of Toxicology Mixtures Specialty Section.

P.O. Box 13475, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

GEMS is incorporated as a non-profit scientific organization in the state of North Carolina  and with the federal government. 

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