Research Team

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, PGTC Clinical and Translational Programs

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.

Manuela Corti


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.

Barbara K. Smith

Clinical Research Manager

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.

Julie Berthy

PHYSICIAN Associate, care Center Coordinator

Jennifer Shifflet, PA-C

Jennifer is from South Florida and obtained her Bachelor of Science and Master of Biomedical Sciences with an emphasis in Neuroscience from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fl.   She then went on to complete her Physician Associate Master of Medical Science degree at Nova Southeastern University, Orlando campus in 2019.  Jennifer worked with the fast pace Vascular Surgery department at Shands for 2 years before joining Dr. Byrne’s team.  She is very excited to be a part of the Pediatric Rare Disease Research and Therapy Center and to help improve the lives of children with neuromuscular disease.

Jennifer Shifflet

Nurse Practitioner, Care Center Coordinator

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.

Kara Godwin

Physical Therapist

Jenna Lammers, MSR/ PT, CNT

Jenna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences from Clemson University, a Master’s of Science and Rehabilitation/Physical Therapy Degree from The Medical University of South Carolina, and is a NTNCB Board-Certified Neonatal Therapist. 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.

Jenna Lammers


Stephanie Salabarria, BHSc

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.

Stephanie Salabarria


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.

Samantha Norman

Clinical Research Coordinator I

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.

Jessica Ehrbar

Clinical Research Coordinator I

Nicole Fernandez, BS

Nicole graduated from the University of Florida in 2021 with her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and her minor in Disabilities in Society. While in her gap year, she decided to join Dr. Byrne’s clinical team as a research coordinator to learn more about rare diseases that affect the pediatric population. Her main goal is to become a physician, while also staying involved in research.

Nicole Fernandez

Cardiac Imaging Technologist

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.

Tina Cousins

Care center Administrator

Ian Debus, BS

Ian worked for two years as an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Byrne’s pre-clinical lab at the University of Florida. After graduating in December of 2018 with a degree in Biology, he joined the clinical team to continue working for the treatment of neuromuscular diseases. Ian is currently working toward becoming a pediatric physician in the future.

Ian Debus


Bobby Ross, BAS

Bobby has worked at UF/ Shands since 2001 and joined Dr. Byrne’s team in 2015. Bobby graduated from Santa Fe College with a Bachelors in Health Services Administration. Bobby works with industry sponsors to negotiate clinical trial budgets for Pediatric Research. He also collaborates with our Clinical Nurse Coordinator to obtain  pre service authorizations for gene therapy and drug approvals for our outpatient clinic patients.

Bobby Ross


Larry Compton

Larry is originally from Gainesville, FL and started working for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Florida in 1993. During his tenure on our campus, he has worked for Genetics, Cytogenetics, the Congenital Heart Center, Hematology/Oncology and the Chairman’s office. He joined Dr. Byrne’s team as an Administrative Specialist in the fall of 2019.

Larry Compton