Meet our Team

Anna Maria Storniolo, MD

Responsibility at the KTB:

Principal Investigator, Komen Tissue Bank Director

Contact Information:

astornio@iu.edu

Other Roles: 

Catherine Peachey Breast Cancer Prevention Program Professor of Clinical Medicine, Dept. of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, IU School of Medicine

Jill Henry

Responsibility at the KTB:

Chief Operating Officer

Contact Information:

jihenry@iupui.edu

Why do you do what you do? Or what brought you here?

I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Storniolo in my previous life as Board Development Chair of the Komen Indianapolis Affiliate. When I was looking for a career change, this opportunity was available and I remembered Dr. Storniolo talking about it with such passion. I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderful organization.I have been involved with the local Komen Indianapolis Affiliate for years and have developed a passion for the breast cancer cause. I am lucky not to have had any family members afflicted with breast cancer so far, but after all this time in the field, I have made many friends who are breast cancer survivors.

Favorite KTB story/experience?

There are so many! I would say my favorite times are during blood and tissue collection events, when things are going smoothly and we have time to chat with donors as they go through the process. They are always so grateful to be able to make a contribution to breast cancer research. It is a very heartwarming experience. We always enjoy reading the stories that donors include in our journal of why they donated.

Other passions in life:

My amazing daughter, Rachel Claire. Travel, reading, scrapbooking, blogging, cooking, spending time outside (when it is warm out), meeting new people.

People would be surprised to know that you…

I was really shy in high school…and a wild and crazy girl in college. Now — a happy medium!

Ice cream or pizza?

Both! Pizza with olives for dinner and mocha ice cream for dessert!

Kathi Ridley-Merriweather

Responsibility at the KTB:

Communication and Minority Recruitment Coordinator 

Contact Information:

317-274-4051 | keridley@iupui.edu

Why do you do what you do? Or what brought you here?

I was in a job where I felt I was no longer learning, and in which the stress was increasing but the rewards were diminishing. I came here because I was excited at the idea of being in a position where I learn new things on a daily basis, and where my skills can really be put to use. This job stoked a passion for research I did not know I had. I pursued and received my Masters while working for the KTB, and am now a researcher in my own right, seeking my PhD . You can find my publications on ResearchGate.

Favorite KTB story/experience?

I was asked to make a master copy of our donor journal – the book in which the women who come to give their breast tissue write down why they are there. That job took a long time. I had to flip pages and re-position the book between the copies, so I would see some of the entries. After a while I just gave up and sat down to read…what powerful stories. Some came in memory of a loved one, some came to support a friend or family member, but I was most struck by those who came simply because they are healthy and thriving, and finally feel that they can help. There are very few things worse than feeling helpless.

Other passions in life:

My family and friends, of course. I’m also passionate about traveling, acting, reading, music, and trying new things.

People would be surprised to know that you…

Actually can sit quietly and do very little. Not for long, but I can do it.

Ice cream or pizza?

Definitely ice cream.

Julia von Arx

Responsibility at the KTB:

Event and Regulatory Coordinator

Contact Information:

317-274-3900 | jurmccar@iupui.edu

Why do you do what you do? Or what brought you here?

I feel like it was fate that brought me to the KTB and an absolute sense of rightness once I got here. I have learned so much about not only the world of breast cancer research, but about myself. I have really grown into my own with the help of my KTB family. We have so many stories of courageous women and their battle with this disease that it is not hard to feel like working here is making a difference. What could be better than a job that makes you feel like that? It’s almost selfish.

Favorite KTB story/experience?

I have many from over the years, but my favorite moment was being able to not only donate tissue during Indy Super Cure and be a part of the largest tissue event in KTB history, but I was able to do it with my mother on her birthday. She was over-the-moon excited to celebrate her birthday by giving herself and her time for others, just a testament to the many donors we have in our study. It was an emotional weekend for many reasons, but when I was driving home later that evening to have a celebratory birthday dinner with my family, I knew I would also be rejoicing in the fact that we accomplished such an amazing goal to advancing research and awareness.

Other passions in life:

Cooking and reading, but my true blessing in life is being close to my family.

People would be surprised to know that you…

Don’t overly enjoy dessert, hence my answer to the proceeding question.

Ice cream or pizza?

Hands down pizza, whether I’m indulging in the real carb feast or trying crusts made out of zucchini, it’s still a treat!

Natascia Marino, PhD

Responsibility at the KTB:

Research Scientist

Contact Information:

317-274-3340 | marinon@iu.edu

Why do you do what you do? Or what brought you here?

“Passion” is the answer. Passion for science, passion for discovery, passion for planning the daily experiment, desire to make an impact in public health! I completed my post-doctoral training at NCI, Bethesda, MD, where I was studying the biology of metastatic disease from breast cancer. However, I believe that the cure for cancer is in prevention. Therefore, when I heard about the KTB with its collection of thousands of normal breast tissues I jumped onto an airplane and, now here I am unveiling the mystery of the normal-appearing breast.

Favorite KTB story/experience?

Before my first day as IU and KTB member, I volunteered during the Indianapolis KTB collection event. There I was, meeting my new coworkers in what should have been the most stressful time. However, I was welcomed with smiles and hugs by the KTB founders, I worked closely with my future KTB colleagues. Even though they were running back and forward, checking lists, answering phone calls, a smile never disappeared from their faces. All was so busy and harmonious at the same time.

Other passions in life:

My sweet, strong baby girl. “Everything I do I do it for you”…

People would be surprised to know that you…

Ran the NYC and Marines Corps marathons, and love partying. In my old days they couldn’t keep me at home. I was always outside with friends, playing soccer and bocce, drinking shots, dancing salsa, exercising ….then my baby came and drained all my energy.

Ice cream or pizza?

Pizza. However, if they offer me GELATO instead of Ice cream, I would pick that.

Rana German

Responsibility at the KTB:

I am a Research Technician. I work in the lab, helping Dr. Natascia Marino. We are looking at the molecular alterations in breast tissue associated with breast cancer risk and susceptibility.  

Contact Information:

317-274-2284 | rgerman@iu.edu

Why do you do what you do? Or what brought you here?

I am glad to have the opportunity to be part of this great research and efforts that can influence and improve human health.

Favorite KTB story/experience?

My first tissue collection event was in NYC, where I also had the chance to donate my own tissue. It was an intense 2 days of hard work of the KTB team together with hundreds of volunteers. Since I am working with the tissue in the lab, I constantly practice the great impact of the KTB healthy tissue bank in breast cancer research and greatly appreciate the women who donated.

Other passions in life:

Spending time with my family and friends, gardening, cooking, Barre workout and reading a good book.

People would be surprised to know that you…

I took few years off the lab bench and opened my own floral business. I enjoyed the creativity of making the arrangements, building the business, interacting with clients and making people smile to the sight of my flowers.

Ice cream or pizza?

I love both, pizza when I am hungry, ice cream as a treat.

Alison Hughes

Responsibility at the KTB:

Data Specialist and Program Assistant

Contact Information:

317-274-2366 | alisnide@iu.edu

Why do you do what you do? Or what brought you here?

I was working at IU as an administrative assistant in pediatric research when my neighbor told me about an opening where she worked-at the Komen Tissue Bank. I decided to apply and see what happened. I got the job! Now I am working with some of the most dedicated and caring individuals who would love to be out of work because breast cancer has been eradicated. We are not there yet but through the study of NORMAL, that is a hope. I like being at the KTB because it is a supportive environment where everyone pitches in and gets the job done. 

Favorite KTB story/experience?

My first event was 11/3/18 and it was eye opening. The coordination of all the volunteers that it takes to put on a Tissue Collection Event is a marvel to witness. The dedication and the general atmosphere of the event are indescribable. I was able to observe several different areas and see the whole experience from check in to check out.  

Other passions in life:

Traveling with my husband on small road trips and large adventures and spending time with family. I also like going out to eat and trying out new places. 

People would be surprised to know that you…

I met one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, and heard him give the commencement speech at Butler’s Graduation in May of 1996. 

Ice cream or pizza?

Pizza

Sam Rysdyk

Responsibility at the KTB:

Health Research Informatics Programmer

Contact Information:

srysdyk@iu.edu

Responsibility at the KTB:

Health Research Informatics Programmer

Why do you do what you do? Or what brought you here?

My previous work experience is web-focused programming. I sought this opportunity because it involves more general purpose programming and also data analysis. Web development is fun, but I wanted to do work that was a little more substantial. Also, it is important for me to work with an organization that is doing good in the world. Lastly, Indianapolis is a great, goldilocks city – not too big, not too small; not too hot, not too cold; cool things to do, but still affordable.

Favorite KTB story/experience?

We held a big tissue donation event on my first week here. It was a great way to become quickly immersed in one of the KTB’s big functions. During the event, donors were sharing stories of why they chose to donate and that really reinforced the importance of the KTB and cancer research.

Other passions in life:

When not staring at a computer screen, I like to get outside. Cycling and running are my day-to-day hobbies. Travels usually involve national parks.

People would be surprised to know that you…

I am a ‘retired’ lawyer. I enjoyed law school, but never quite developed a passion for the grind of actual practice. After graduating and passing the bar, I decided to pursue a career in my hobby of programming.

Ice cream or pizza?

Supreme Pizza!

Pam Rockey

Responsibility at the KTB:

Biospecimen Manager

Contact Information:

317-278-9006 | prockey@iu.edu

Why do you do what you do? Or what brought you here?

After being a “work-from-home” mom for 15 years I desired to return to the field where my experience and education crossed paths with my interests in research science. Happily, I came across the Biospecimen Manager position at KTB – a perfect fit. I am grateful that the wonderful staff at KTB felt the same and took a chance on me. Having been fortunate to be part of the team that isolated the BRCA1 gene 25 years ago, I am excited now to continue being a small but integral part of breast cancer research by helping to understand NORMAL.

Favorite KTB story/experience?

My first collection event was a sight to behold. I realized that everyone at the KTB has great passion and they are world class at what they do. I feel so grateful to get to be a part of it.

Other passions in life:

My family. Vacations to the beach. MU and James Bond Movies. Classic Outlaw Country music. I’m a big sports fan – especially any sports my kids are playing and St. Louis Cardinals baseball.

People would be surprised to know that you…

….birthed five boys. Appropriate for an Illinois girl who moved to Indiana and married a basketball coach.

Ice cream or pizza?

Pizza (Mario’s Pizza in Greenville, IL being the gold standard)

Jenny Cui

Responsibility at the KTB:

Data Analyst

Contact Information:

jencui@iu.edu

Why do you do what you do? Or what brought you here?

I am interested in data, research and technology. I do not feel bored in this position. IU and KTB provide various opportunities for learning and growth in career. I also feel the research in KTB is really meaningful.

Favorite KTB story/experience?

I feel KTB is a place where you can get a lot of support and inspiration. I am inspired by the braveness and selflessness of all the volunteers. I appreciate the rich personalities of my teammates. Some are profoundly philosophical, some are outrageously humorous, some are unbelievably versatile, some are extraordinarily wise, some are extremely friendly and some are amazingly creative. I feel lucky to work with all of them.

Other passions in life:

My son and daughter. I also like movies, trying out food from different countries, and developmental psychology.

People would be surprised to know that you…

I was a tomboy when I was a young kid, but I felt calming down after entering my adolescence. It seems quite contrary to the development of most people.

Ice cream or pizza?

Ice cream

Gena Asher

Responsibility at the KTB:

Consumer Advocate

Contact Information:

eulasher@indiana.edu

About Gena:

Gena Asher has volunteered at tissue bank events for more than 10 years in Indianapolis, Bloomington and Louisville.

When diagnosed with breast cancer, she created a website, Breast Cancer: FYI, as a response to a lack of local information about services and resources in south central Indiana. The award-winning site closed in 2016 after 15 years.

She also is co-founder of Step Ahead, a support group for survivors, who often have different concerns and needs from the newly diagnosed. It continues to meet monthly in Bloomington.

In her “non-breast cancer life,” she was a newspaper reporter, journalism instructor and digital content manager at the Indiana University Media School, where she enjoyed working with college students. She is active in several nonprofit organizations and enjoys playing pickleball when the weather is fine.

Latrice Baxter

Responsibility at the KTB:

Consumer Advocate

Contact Information:

labaxte@iu.edu

About Latrice:

Hi everyone! My name is Latrice Baxter and I am privileged to share the role of Consumer Advocate! In 1998, my mom's best friend died from complications of breast cancer. Ten years later, I participated in the Komen Race for the Cure Walk. Seeing a sea of pink shirts and realizing it was 10 years since my mom's best friend died probably triggered my desire to do more than wear a pink pin in October. I learned about the KTB when someone made a presentation at my church about the importance of donating healthy breast tissue for research for a cure for breast cancer. This was my chance to help and it was one of the most meaningful and emotional things I've done so far in my 43 years. I was amazed at the camaraderie and the energy at the site! I left in tears, happy tears at the small impact I had for women who look like me, my goddaughter, my children's daughters, my cousin in law and her daughters...all from one little donation. A few years later, I had the opportunity to volunteer with KTB directly on the Super Saver project and at a KTB donor event which led to involvement with the Minority Recruitment Team. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought a brief presentation would have led me here and I could not be more excited, invigorated, and ready to serve.

I've lived in Indiana since 2006 after I graduated from grad school. The two-year stint I thought I would make in the Midwest has parlayed into a career change, purchasing a home, and starting a private practice. I am a proud native of Philadelphia, the city of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection! Most of my family is in Philly but I visit when I'm able especially during the holidays. I am a mental health therapist and recently started a private practice which has been challenging but a great adventure. I've worked in mental health since 2013 and worked in Human Resources for about 12 years prior to my career change.

My happy place is exercise, cooking, and watching anime (don't judge me, it's great!), HGTV, and the Food Network. At this point in my life, joy comes from serving and learning to enjoy myself, my life and this path God has meticulously and masterfully laid out for me. I look forward to learning and growing in this role with my fellow Advocates Gena and Nicole!

Nicole Biberstine

Responsibility at the KTB:

Consumer Advocate

Contact Information:

nbiberst@iu.edu

About Nicole:

I’m thrilled to join the Komen Tissue Bank as a Consumer Advocate. My relationship with the KTB goes back to the early 2000’s when I donated my healthy breast tissue during one of the first few years of the tissue collection. As the former Director of Foundation for the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation, I helped coordinate volunteers nationally for the Survivor Recognition Program at the Komen Race for the Cure series.

In October 2017, after finding a lump in my breast while doing a self-breast exam, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m currently NED and under the care of Dr. Bryan Schneider at the IU Simon Cancer Center. Throughout my diagnosis, I felt that the only way I had control was when I could understand the science behind my diagnosis and the treatment I was receiving. Advancements in breast cancer research are what have kept me positive throughout my treatment. Serving as a Consumer Advocate for the Komen Tissue Bank would is a great way for me to balance my role as a stay at home mom while staying connected to a cause I hold dear.

I live in Indianapolis with my husband Mike and our two children Grace (7) and Grant (3). When not in quarantine or administering e-learning, I enjoy volunteering for my daughter’s school (Christ the King) and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.