Jim has been involved with Sharktank since late 1998, after the second of his two daughters was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, and has served as a board member board member for 10 years. Through the years Jim has been active in research, administration, web development, and fundraising. Jim graduated from Brigham Young University in 1992 and has been a software engineer for over 20 years.
Having earned degrees in art history, English and higher education administration, Dr. Mary McNichols is a Professor of Art History in Detroit where she has also served at her institution as Associate Academic Dean and Department Chair. Mary has been widely published in the field of art history. She has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2009 and currently functions as Secretary of the Board. Mary has spent considerable time researching cystic fibrosis and looks forward to assisting Sharktank Research Foundation with further research and fundraising in an effort to ensure effective therapies for cystic fibrosis.
Dr. Lauranell (Nell) Burch received her MS in Biology from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, in 1986. From 1986-through 2001, she was employed at University of North Carolina (UNC)-Chapel Hill in the Dept of Pulmonary Medicine, where she developed methods which led to her discovery of a common splicing mutation in the Cystic Fibrosis gene, which she published with her coauthors in The New England Journal of Medicine. In addition, between 1996 through 2001, while working full time in the lab, she was enrolled full time as a graduate student in UNC’s Genetics and Molecular Biology Curriculum, receiving her PhD for her work in Cystic Fibrosis in 2001.
In 2001, with her freshly earned Ph.D. degree, Nell joined the Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Duke University as a Research Associate, and was promoted to Senior Research Scientist. While at Duke, Nell led the laboratory effort to conduct a linkage project in Pulmonary Fibrosis, and obtained industry funding to create new methods for high-throughput sequencing capability of candidate disease genes at low cost. Using this platform, Nell was co-discoverer of a polymorphism in the human Tryptophan Hydroxylase-2 gene (TPH2), which controls brain serotonin synthesis, receiving patent #US 7,585,627. Between 2001 and 2005 she coauthored 11 peer-reviewed papers and co-authored a book chapter in Methods in Molecular Medicine, of which she is first author.
In 2005, Nell accepted a position as Staff Scientist in the Laboratory of Respiratory Biology at a branch of the NIH; National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Nell was promoted to Director of the NIEHS Molecular Genetics Core Facility (MGCF), which she established at NIEHS de novo to provide NIEHS investigators with robotics-automated genotyping, sequencing and sample management capabilities, as well as bioinformatics support. The MGCF under Nell’s direction was recognized for its technical capability, technology development, dissemination of knowledge, and commitment to support quality research.
Nell was lead inventor on two NIH-Licensed inventions for novel genotyping methods, E-064-2012 (Improved Methods and Novel Reagent for Genotyping of Transgenic and Knockout Mice) and E-533-2013 (SNP Genotyping by Mismatch/Melt (SNP MM) Method). These methods are inexpensive and robust methods, and remain in use at NIEHS, saving the agency many millions of dollars over previous methods.
On July 1 2014, Nell joined Sharktank as its new Scientific Director. Together with Sharktank’s members, Nell seeks academic and industry partners to advance therapies for Cystic Fibrosis.