Meet the Clinical Team
Manuela Corti, PT, PhD
Dr. Corti received her bachelor degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Insubria, Varese, Italy. She continued her education and earned her PhD in Rehabilitation Science from the University of Florida. Dr. Corti’s research focus is on 1) Understanding the contribution of neurological impairment in neuromuscular disorders by combining behavioral, neurophysiological and imaging techniques, and 2) Developing novel therapies that improve and restore both the muscular and the neurological impairments in neuromuscular disease.
Barbara K. Smith, PT, PhD
Dr. Smith received her undergraduate degree in molecular biology from Grove City College, Pennsylvania. She went on to earn her MPT (physical therapy) degree from the university of Pittsburgh and received her PhD from the University of Florida in 2010. Dr. Smith’s research examines the time course and extent of respiratory muscle remodeling in response to respiratory muscle overload training, using a combination of basic science and clinical approaches.
Julie Berthy, DNP
Dr. Berthy earned an associate degree in nursing in 1986. After several years in the critical care arena, including flight nursing, she completed her Bachelors’ and Masters’ (ARNP) degrees from the University of Florida in 2001. After working several years with Dr. Byrne in research and with University of Florida’s pediatric cardiology group she returned to school and completed her Doctorate in nursing (DNP) in 2011. She has held critical care positions throughout her tenure as a DNP, ARNP, and rejoined Dr. Byrne’s group in June of 2017, as the manager of clinical research. Dr. Berthy is board certified as a family nurse practitioner.
Kara Godwin, MSN, ARNP, CPNP-PC
Kara is from Gainesville and graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education and Behavior. She has a Master’s Degree in Nursing specializing in primary pediatrics and she will complete her Doctorate in Nursing in 2017. Kara has been at UF Health at Shands since 2001 in a variety of positions in pediatrics, including phlebotomist, unit clerk, nursing assistant, nurse, and nurse practitioner. Before joining Dr. Byrne’s team in 2015, Kara worked as a nurse practitioner for the pediatric heart and lung transplant team.
Tina Cousins, RDCS
Tina received her AS degree in Cardiopulmonary Technology from Santa Fe Community College and then completed her Bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration from Saint Leo University in 2004. She has worked as a pediatric cardiac sonographer for the past 15 years and is registered by the ARDMS. She joined the Byrne research team as a Clinical Coordinator in 2013.
Jenna Lammers, MSR, PT
Jenna Lammers graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelors Degree in Biological Sciences and went on to receive a Masters of Science Degree in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation from The Medical University of South Carolina. She has worked as a Pediatric Physical Therapist since 2000 in a breadth of practice settings including: general acute care, PICU, CICU, NICU, early intervention, preschool, outpatient, MD clinic, and home health. Jenna began working for the Powell Gene Therapy center in 2010 because of her passion to be involved with research that improves the quality of life for the patients she serves.
Stephanie Salabarria, BS
Since joining the team in 2015, Stephanie has become a Clinical Study Coordinator for multiple Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy studies within the Child Health Research Institute. Stephanie graduated in 2015 from the University of Florida with a BS in Health Science and successful completion of the pre-medical track. Her future goal is to be a Physician in the field of Pediatrics and to continue work in research.
Blake Meyer, BS
Blake started working with Dr. Byrne’s team in October of 2015 in his pre-clinical laboratory. She recently transitioned to clinical research coordinator in May of 2018. She graduated with a BS in Biology from the University of Florida in 2017. Her focus under Dr. Byrne and Dr. Corti’s guidance has been Friedreich’s ataxia.
Norane Shehab, MD
Norane graduated medical school from LAU Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine in Byblos, Lebanon during the summer of 2017. She moved to Florida soon afterwards and has been working with Dr. Byrne since September 2017. She is a study coordinator for multiple clinical trial studies that involve the diseases: Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Pompe disease. Her next step is becoming a pediatrician.
Cristina Liberati, MD
Dr. Liberati, M.D., graduated from the Medical School of the University of Rome, Italy, “Sapienza”, in 2015. Following a year of training in general medicine, she moved to the United States and joined the UF research team on September 2016. Currently, she is acting as study coordinator and medical supervisor for a variety of observational and interventional studies for rare disease, including Pompe disease, X-linked Myotubular Myopathy (XLMTM), Canavan Disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Her major goal is to complete residency program in pediatrics and be able to continue being involved in research.
Samantha Norman, MPH
Samantha graduated from Georgia Southern University with her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology with a minor in Psychology. From there she took a gap year working in New Orleans in East Jefferson General Hospital’s Wellness Center before continuing her education with a Master’s in Public Health, with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences, from the University of Florida. Upon graduation, Samantha joined Dr. Byrne’s clinical team as a clinical research coordinator with the opinion that it nicely combined both her degrees.
Jessica Ehrbar, MS
Jess received both her BS and MS in Exercise Physiology from James Madison University working mainly in human performance. Shortly after graduating, Jess moved to Phoenix, AZ in June of 2016 and worked as a lab and research assistant at Arizona State University. She moved to Florida and joined the Byrne team in July of 2018. Jess looks forward to working with rare disease populations as a research coordinator under Dr. Barbara Smith.
Samantha “Sami” Mays, BS
Samantha “Sami” Mays is a research assistant with the department of Physical Therapy. She works with rare neuromuscular diseases, specifically Pompe Disease and Myotubular Myopathy. She graduated in 2016 from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Information Systems and Operations Management at the University of Florida, and plans to graduate in Spring 2019.
Nikki Atzinger, BS
Nikki has been working with Dr. Byrne’s team since Fall of 2015 as a Program Assistant. She graduated from the University of Louisville in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Previously, she was the Head Coach of the local Rowing Program that consisted of middle school, high school, and adult athletes.
Emma Crowley, BS
Bobby has worked in the healthcare industry since 1997 and started at UF Health and Shands in 2001, working in Pediatric Specialties, the Department of Urology and most recently as the Procedures Manager at the Congenital Heart Center. He joined Dr. Byrne’s team in the summer of 2015 as a Program Assistant.