2017 – 2018 Task Force –Bios and Photos

Whitney Goldner, MD

Whitney Goldner, MD, University of Nebraska Medical Center- WIT President
Dr. Whitney Goldner is Associate Professor of Medicine, division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  She has been a member of WIT since 2004, member of the Trainee and Career Advancement Committee since 2014, Chair in 2015-2017 and has a clinical interest in thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer and neuroendocrine tumors. Dr. Goldner did her endocrinology fellowship at the University of Iowa, Internal Medicine training at the University of Utah, Endocrinology Fellowship Director from 2011-2017. In addition, she started the thyroid and endocrine tumor clinics at the Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Sissy Jhiang, PhD

Sissy Jhiang, PhD, The Ohio State University- WIT President-Elect
Sissy M Jhiang is Professor of Physiology and Cell Biology at the Ohio State University. She has been an ATA member since 1995. Dr. Jhiang was the recipient of Van Meter Award in 2002, and she served as the basic science co-chair for the 79 th ATA Annual Meeting in 2008. Dr. Jhiang has served on Membership Committee (2001, 2011), Program Committee (1999-2011), Research Committee (2009-2012), Board of Directors (2010-2014), and Award Committee (2014-2017). In 2005, she was elected as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow in Medicine. Dr. Jhiang’s current research interest is developing personalized approaches to maximize radioiodine therapeutic efficacy without unwanted side effects.

Sophia Ali, MD

Sophia Ali, MD, Wayne State University
Sophia Ali recently completed her Endocrinology fellowship at Wayne State University in Detroit.  She will be joining as Assistant Profession in the division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Toledo in Ohio.  She completed her medical school from Allama Iqbal Medical College in Pakistan and residency training in Internal Medicine from the University at Buffalo.  During her residency training, she was involved in diabetes research and received the Helmsley Charitable Trust Abstract Award in 2015 through the Endocrine Society.

Dr. Ali’s areas of clinical interest include diabetes and thyroid disorders.  At the University of Toledo, her vision is to help with the growth of the Endocrinology fellowship, which just commenced this year, along with building a stronger division through innovation and research at the Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Research (CeDER).

Brittany Avin, PhD Candidate

Brittany Avin, PhD Candidate, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Brittany Avin is a PhD candidate in the department of molecular biology and genetics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is currently mentored by Dr. Martha Zeiger and Dr. Christopher Umbricht in the department of surgery. Her work focuses on the epigenetic regulation of telomerase reverse transcriptase in thyroid cancer. Her work is supported by her award from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

In addition to her studies, Brittany is also passionately involved in advocacy. She is the lead advocacy volunteer for her congressional district with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, speaks nationally to raise cancer awareness as a ten-year cancer survivor, and helped establish the pilot program for NTRAP: NCI Technology Research Advocacy Partnership with the National Cancer Institute.

Aime Franco, PhD

Aime Franco, PhD, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Aime Franco is an assistant professor in the department of physiology and biophysics.  She graduated with a PhD in cancer biology from Vanderbilt University in 2007.  In the laboratory of Richard Peek, Dr. Franco investigated the relationship between Helicobacter pylori infection and gastric cancer.  After completing her Ph.D., Dr. Franco moved to New York City for a postdoctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  In the laboratory of James Fagin, she began her work in thyroid cancer, and the role of genetic mutations in tumo r initiation.

In August of 2011, Dr. Franco joined the faculty at UAMS and started her own thyroid cancer research group.  The primary focus of research in the Franco lab is dissecting the role of oncogenes in thyroid cancer initiation and progression.  The lab is seeking to develop novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of advanced thyroid disease.  In addition to her active research, Dr Franco also teaches physiology to the medical students, and endocrinology to students in the graduate school.  Dr. Franco is also very active with the American Association for Cancer Research , the American Thyroid Association and local ACS office.  She is very passionate about advocacy, both for research and improved patient care and quality of life.

In addition to Aime’s research and policy work in the field of cancer, she is also a cancer survivor, being diagnosed and treated for thyroid cancer in 2000.

Sabrina Gill, MD

Sabrina Gill, MD, University of British Columbia
Dr. Sabrina Gill earned her Bachelor’s degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences followed by her Medical degree at University of British Columbia (UBC).  After completing her Internal Medicine training at the University of Alberta and subspecialty training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at UBC , Dr. Gill pursued her post-doctoral research training in Women’s Health at the Reproductive Endocrine Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  Dr. Gill also completed her Masters degree in Public Health in clinical epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.  She is currently the Medical Director of the Metabolic Bone Clinic and Endocrinologist at St. Paul’s Hospital and Clinical Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at University of British Columbia.

Masha Livhits, MD

Masha Livhits, MD, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine
Dr. Masha Livhits is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.  She attended college at the age of 12 through the highly competitive Early Entrance Program at California State University, Los Angeles. After completing her medical education at Washington University in St. Louis, she obtained her surgical training and Endocrine Surgery fellowship at UCLA.

Dr. Livhits has published wide ly in the area of improving surgical outcomes and quality of care. She is dedicated to combining knowledge learned through research with her experience as a surgeon to deliver the best care to her patients. Her clinical and research interests include parathyroid disease, benign and malignant thyroid tumors, adrenal masses, and familial endocrine disorders. She helped to pioneer the new technique of single incision retroperitoneoscopic adrenalectomy in North America.

Neha A. Patel, MD

Neha A. Patel, MD, New York Eye and Ear
Dr. Neha A. Patel is a pediatric otolaryngologist of the Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.  Dr. Patel received her medical degree with a distinction in research from Albany Medical College and completed residency training at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. She then completed a fellowship in Pediatric Otolaryngology Seattle Children’s Hospital with subspecialty training in pediatric cra niofacial, vascular anomalies and advanced pediatric head and neck surgery. Dr. Patel’s clinical interests include velopharyngeal insufficiency surgery, surgical management of lesions of the head and neck including lymphatic malformations and hemangiomas. Dr. Patel’s current research focuses on the management of pediatric thyroid cancer. Dr. Patel has authored multiple peer-reviewed publications. Most importantly, Dr. Patel’s focus is on delivering the highest quality care to all children ranging from premature infants to adolescents in a family friendly environment.

Jennifer Perkins, MD, MBA

Jennifer Perkins, MD, MBA, Duke University
Jennifer Perkins, MD, MBA is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Duke University Health System in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and has been on faculty since 2009. She attended medical school at Dartmouth School of Medicine then went on to complete internship and residency in internal medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University. Following that she completed a 3 year research fellowship in Endocrinology at Vanderbilt University prior to joining faculty at Duke University. Dr. Perkins has also obtained her Masters in Business Administration at Duk e’s Fuqua School of Business. Her clinical focus is in Endocrine Neoplasia, particularly thyroid nodule and thyroid cancer. She also participates in health outcomes research in this area and has published several peer reviewed articles and book chapters in this arena.  She has had several leadership roles including being the associate program director for the Endocrine Fellowship, the Vice Chief for clinical affairs for the Division of Endocrinology and is now currently the Medical Director of Access Services for Duke University Health System. She is a very active clinician and teacher.

Spyridoula Maraka, MD, MSc

Spyridoula Maraka, MD, MSc, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and CAVHS
Spyridoula Maraka, MD, MSc is an Endocrinologist and Clinician Scientist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Central Arkansas Veterans Health Care System. Her academic rank is Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Scienc  es where she is also serving as the Associate Program Director of the Endocrinology fellowship program. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Connecticut and postgraduate fellowship in Endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester. During her post-graduate training, she obtained a Master’s Degree in Clinical and Translational Science. She is a co-founder of the Knowledge and Evaluation Research Unit in Endocrinology at Mayo Clinic where she holds an appointment as a Research Collaborator at the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolism. Dr. Maraka’s research is focused on thyroid disorders including hypothyroidism in pregnancy, Graves’ disease and thyroid nodules with the goal to advance patient-centered, evidence-based endocrine care. Her research is supported in part by the Arkansas Biosciences Institute and by a recent award from the South Central VA Health Care Network Research Pilot Grants Program. She currently serves as a member of the Clinical Affairs Committee of the American Thyroid Association and was recently elected member of the WIT Task Force.