Research Team

Associate Professor & 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, PA-C

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

Clinical Research Coordinator III

Mackenzi Coker, MS, CCC-SLP

Mackenzi received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of South Florida, and her Master of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology from Florida Atlantic University. She has worked as a certified speech language pathologist in the pediatric private practice, preschool, and hospital settings, with a clinical focus on feeding, swallowing, respiratory, and myofunctional disorders. She joined Dr. Byrne’s team in 2021 as a Clinical Research Coordinator to continue to expand her research experience, while helping improve the quality of life for both patients and families.

Coker, Mackenzie


Stephanie Salabarria, BHSc

Since joining the team in 2015, Stephanie has been a Clinical Study Coordinator for multiple Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Spinal Muscular Atrophy 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-professional track. 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.

Stephanie Salabarria,

Clinical Research Coordinator I

Benjamin Mccaffrey

Ben graduated from the University of Florida in 2022 with a B.S in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology. Ben was introduced to neuromuscular research as an undergraduate volunteer for the Applied Neuromechanics Lab at the College of Health and Human Performance. While in preparation for medical school, he has continued to further his knowledge of neuromuscular pathophysiology as a research assistant for Dr. Byrne. 

Ben Maccaffrey

Research Associate

Juliette Clavier, BS

Juliette graduated from the University of Florida in 2022 with a B.S. in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology – Exercise Physiology. During her time as an undergraduate student, she worked under Dr. Barbara Smith for two years as an undergraduate volunteer researcher and then as a full-time APK intern in her final semester of school. Juliette recently joined the team as a Research Associate under Dr. Smith and is excited to continue expanding her knowledge on rehabilitation and neuromuscular disease research while she prepares applications to Physical Therapy programs. 

Clavier, Juliette

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


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