Speakers | MUIH
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Peter Bongiorno, N.D., LAc

Presentation: Nutritional Genomics and Mental Health

Dr. Peter Bongiorno is a naturopathic and functional medicine practitioner who specializes in mood disorder. He is co-medical director of InnerSource Natural Health and Acupuncture, a thriving practice with two clinics in New York. Dr. Bongiorno was a pre-doctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health and at the National Institute of Mental Health’s department of Clinical Neuroendocrinology before training at Bastyr University in naturopathic medicine and acupuncture. His latest professional text is Holistic Therapies for Anxiety and Depression, released by WW Norton in 2015. His best-selling books for the public are Put Anxiety Behind You: The Complete Drug Free Program and How Come They’re Happy and I’m Not? The Complete Natural Program for Healing Depression for Good.


David Brady, N.D., D.C., CCN, DACBN

Presentation: Multiplex PCR-DNA Molecular Identification of the GI Microbiota in the Diagnosis and Management of Autoimmune and other Systemic Diseases

Dr. David M. Brady has over 25 years of experience as an integrative medical practitioner and academic. He is a licensed naturopathic medical physician in Connecticut and Vermont and a board certified clinical nutritionist. Dr. Brady is also a prolific author of medical papers and research articles on fibromyalgia and has dedicated a large part of his professional career to helping people recover from this mysterious disorder. He currently serves as the Vice President for Health Sciences, Director of the Human Nutrition Institute, and Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. He maintains a private practice, Whole Body Medicine, in Fairfield, CT and is also the Chief Medical Officer for Designs for Health, Inc. and Diagnostic Solutions Labs, LLC.

Ahmed El-Sohemy, Ph.D.

Presentation: Do Our Genes Determine What We Should Eat?

Dr. Ahmed El-Sohemy is a Professor at the University of Toronto and has held a Canada Research Chair in Nutrigenomics. He earned his Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Toronto and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. He returned to Toronto in 2000 to establish a research program in nutritional genomics. The goal of his research is to elucidate the genetic basis for variability in nutrient response on health and performance. Dr. El-Sohemy has published over 130 peer-reviewed articles and has given over 200 invited talks around the world. In 2013, Dr. El-Sohemy was named one of the top 10 inventors of the year by University of Toronto and the following year he was awarded the Centrum Foundation New Scientist Award for Outstanding Research by the Canadian Nutrition Society. In 2016 he was awarded the Mark Bieber Professional Award by the American College of Nutrition. He is the founder of Nutrigenomix Inc. and chairs the company’s International Science Advisory Board.


Kara Fitzgerald, N.D.

Presentation: The Methylation Diet and Lifestyle

Dr. Kara Fitzgerald completed post-doctorate training in nutritional biochemistry and laboratory science at Metametrix Laboratory. She authored/edited Case Studies in Integrative and Functional Medicine, and was a contributing author to Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine, the Institute for Functional Medicine’s textbook for functional medicine, and co-authored the eBook The Methylation Diet and Lifestyle. She has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, blogs and podcasts regularly for professionals and consumers. Dr. Fitzgerald is on faculty at The Institute for Functional Medicine and maintains a functional medicine practice in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.


Eleonora Gafton, M.S., CNS, CHHC, LDN

Presentation: Translation of Culinary Genomics in Clinical Practice

Eleonora Gafton is an assistant professor and professional chef in the Nutrition and Integrative Health program at Maryland University of Integrative Health. Growing up on an organic farm and winery in Romania, Ms. Gafton developed a passion for natural foods. She completed her chef training at Ministerul Turismului International in Bucharest, Romania and went on to work in a three-star hotel, becoming the first female executive chef in a communist country. Ms. Gafton later received a bachelor’s degree in hotel management from Cornell University, and worked in the hotel industry in Washington, DC for 20 years. Ms. Gafton also holds a master’s degree in herbal medicine and clinical studies from Maryland University of Integrative Health, Post-Master’s Certificate in Nutrition, and a certificate in health coaching from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York.

Leah Hollon, N.D., M.P.H.

Presentation: “What Do You Mean That Curly Kale Made You Feel Worse?” Navigating Genetic Expression in Relationship to Unique Symptomology     

Dr. Leah Hollon holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master in Public Health from VCU School of Medicine. She completed her naturopathic doctor degree and residency training at the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. She was an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy for three years and has served as an editor for the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. She has assisted in drug court programs within Virginia and has been published in the use of alternative medicine in Appalachia. She is the CEO and Chief Naturopathic Doctor at Richmond Natural Medicine, where she presently serves as the residency site director for the first accredited N.D. residency program in Virginia. She has lectured within the field of pharmacy and natural medicine for multiple organizations and universities. She is the owner of Beyond the Blueprint, which provides epigenetic continuing medical education (CME) and consulting services. Her first book will be released late 2017.


Robert  Kachko, N.D., LAc

Presentation: Nutrigenomic Determinants of Aging: What Do We Know?

Robert Kachko graduated summa cum laude with a doctoral degree in naturopathic medicine and a master’s degree in acupuncture from the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine and Acupuncture Institute. He proudly serves on the board of directors of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) and the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians (NYANP), and as Chair of Public Education and Media Affairs for the AANP. He serves on the medical advisory board for Muses Labs and on the medical and dental advisory board for the nonprofit Sharp Again Naturally. He also serves as clinical research consultant to the Alzheimer's Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical.


Liz Lipski, Ph.D., CNS, CCN, BCHN, IFMCP, LDN

Presentation: Nutrigenomics: Testing to Personalize Clinical Application

Liz Lipski is a Professor and Director of Academic Development for the Nutrition & Integrative Health graduate programs at Maryland University of Integrative Health. Dr. Lipski holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Nutrition from the Union Institute, three board certifications in clinical nutrition, and one in functional medicine. She is on the faculty for the Institute for Functional Medicine and the Metabolic Medicine Institute’s Integrative Medicine fellowship program. Dr. Lipski is the author of Digestive Wellness now in its 4th edition, The Digestion Connection, Digestive Wellness for Children, and Leaky Gut Syndrome.


Deanna Minich, M.S., Ph.D., FACN, CNS, IFMCP

Presentation:​ Unlocking Your Color Code: The Power of Phytonutrients to Heal Your Genes​

Dr. Deanna Minich is a health educator and author with more than twenty years of experience in nutrition, mind-body health, and functional medicine. Dr. Minich holds master’s and doctorate degrees in nutrition and has lectured extensively throughout the world on health topics, teaching patients and health professionals about health. She is a fellow of the American College of Nutrition, a Certified Nutrition Specialist, and a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner. Currently, Dr. Minich teaches for the Institute for Functional Medicine and for the graduate program in functional medicine at the University of Western States. Her passion is bringing forth a colorful whole-self approach to nourishment called Whole Detox and bridging the gaps between science, soul, and art in medicine. Her new book is called Whole Detox: A 21-Day Personalized Program to Break Through Barriers in Every Area of Your Life (HarperOne, 2016).


Tara Nayak, N.D.

Presentation: Precision Testing in Clinical Practice: Combining Genomic and Microbiome Data for Personalized Therapeutics

Dr. Nayak received her doctorate of naturopathic medicine from the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine in Connecticut. Her residency was completed under the supervision of Dr. Peter D'Adamo at the Center of Excellence in Generative Medicine, a precision medicine clinic focused on combining traditional naturopathy with cutting edge bioinformatics tools. It was here that Dr. Nayak became an expert at incorporating genomic and micro biome analysis into personalized nutrition protocols. She serves as faculty at the Maryland University of Integrative Health Nutrition teaching "Epigenetics and Nutrigenomics" and "Functional and Integrative Nutrition and Immune Health" for the school’s doctorate program, and will be teaching "Generative Medicine I" at the University of Bridgeport in the fall. Dr. Nayak is currently practicing in Philadelphia, PA and specializing in the treatment of chronic disease.


Jessica Pizano, M.S., CNS

Presentation: Nutrigenomics and Neurotransmitters

Jessica Pizano is the owner of Fit to You, LLC, which offers clinical nutrition and nutrigenomic counseling, as well as corrective and clinical exercise programs. Her concentrations include genetics and nutrigenomics, food allergies/sensitivities, autoimmune disease, mast cell activation disorders, dysautonomia, connective tissue disorders, Lyme disease and neurotransmitter disorders. She earned a master's degree in human nutrition that emphasizes functional medicine at the University of Bridgeport. She is a Certified Nutrition Specialist through the Board for Certified Nutrition Specialists. She is continuing her studies at Maryland University of Integrative Health where she is pursuing a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition and is also an adjunct faculty member teaching nutritional genomics. She is the co-owner of Zebra Diagnostics, LLC, a nutritional genomics research company, as well as SNPed, a nutritional genomics webinar series for practitioners.


Christina Sax, Ph.D.

Pre-Symposium Workshop: Introduction to Genetics and Genomics

Dr. Christina Sax is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Maryland University of Integrative Health. Dr. Sax holds a Ph.D. in Human Genetics from the Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond VA, with Sigma Xi and Phi Kappa Phi honors. She received a B.S. in Microbiology with High Distinction in Research from the University of Rochester, in Rochester NY. She is currently pursuing a Specialization in Design Thinking and Innovation from the Darden School of Business of the University of Virginia. Her research and scholarly activities focus on the areas of academic innovation; online teaching, learning, and quality assurance; educational technology; faculty development; higher education leadership and planning; STEM education; and molecular biology, gene expression, and transcriptional regulation. Dr. Sax indicates that being a member of the MUIH community is directly aligned with her personal mission to create an environment that fosters growth and learning, and provides her with the unique opportunity to blend her interests in education, science and research through non-traditional and innovative models and programs.


Christy Williamson, M.S., CNS

Presentation: Nutrient Specific SNPs

Christy Williamson graduated with honors from the University of Bridgeport’s functional nutrition master’s program. She is a Certified Nutritional Specialist and is completing the Doctor of Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health. Christy is the owner of Nutrigenomic Health Consulting. Her company focuses on functional nutrition as it relates to biochemical nuances within the genome, metabolome and microbiome. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Maryland University of Integrative Health and co-teaches Introduction to Nutritional Genomic Counseling. Christy is co-owner of Zebra Diagnostics/SNPed, a webinar based educational seminar series in nutrigenomics for nutrition and medical professionals.