Our team at the Utah Program for Inherited Neuromuscular Disorders (UPIN) is made up of physicians, physical therapists, speech therapists, genetic counselors, study coordinators, administrative staff, laboratory staff, and researchers. Together, we are a multidisciplinary team working to research and treat inherited neuromuscular disorders.

Use the tabs below to learn more about our outstanding members.

Whit Coleman, MSRA, BSN, RN, CCRC

Whit Coleman has been in pediatric research at the University of Utah since 2008. His undergraduate degree in nursing came from the University of Utah and his graduate degree in research administration came from Johns Hopkins University. Clinically, he worked at Primary Children’s hospital before transitioning to research. He is happy to be a part of the collaborative group at UPIN that is working to advance clinical care in pediatrics.


Gabrielle Palombaro

Gabby serves as the Administrative Assistant within the Division of Pediatric Neurology. With an extensive background in Education, Gabby’s passion for academic environments and eagerness to learn has led her to serve children, faculty, and staff in a variety of different capacities. She received her Undergraduate degree in Integrated Language Arts/English Education from The Ohio State University, and then spent one year studying in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Master’s program at Indiana University. After moving to Salt Lake City, Utah, she spent two years in the classroom as an English teacher at the Junior High level.

Diane Dunn

Diane Dunn is a Senior Research Specialist and supervises our clinical genetic testing lab. A native New Yorker, Diane began her career at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory headed by famed DNA pioneer, Jim Watson. In 1982, she moved west to join Ray Gesteland’s lab at the University of Utah. As an original staff member in the Department of Human Genetics, she has co-authored over 70 peer-reviewed publications involving genetics, genomes, and human disease genes. Diane loves being in the lab and helping fellow lab mates, but when not sequencing DNA at the bench, she can be found in her garden surrounded by flowers, vegetables, and the occasional cat.


Brett O Duval

Brett is originally from New Town North Dakota where he graduated from high school before moving on to North Dakota State University in Fargo to get his BS in molecular biology. In 1991, he moved to Salt Lake City to work at the University of Utah on the Human Genome Project. Upon its completion, He worked on more specific disease gene research. In 1998, Brett married Brenda Alcorn and has remained in a state of semi-perpetual marital bliss ever since. In 2001, he had twins, Nick and Tory, who are now students at the U of Utah. They enjoy many of the outdoor, cultural, and sporting opportunities that exist in Salt Lake City and throughout Utah.


Manshu Tang, Ph.D.

Manshu Tang’s research interests focuses on understanding pathophysiological mechanisms of rare diseases through studying animal models constructed with CRISPR technique, and developing novel therapeutics through structure directed lead compound optimization and molecular simulation. He also enjoys great outdoor activities available around Salt Lake City, such as skiing, hiking and fishing.

Kristen Wong, MS Genetic Counseling

Kristen is originally from East Tennessee where she cultivated her love for science, the mountains, and college football.  She then went on to complete her undergraduate studies in Genetics at Clemson University. Her interest in genetics and desire to work with patients brought her to the University of Michigan where she earned her Master’s in Genetic Counseling. Since graduating, she has joined the team at the University of Utah as a genetic counselor in both pediatric neurology and neuromuscular clinics. Outside of the clinic, she enjoys baking, hiking, and travelling to new places.


Melissa McIntyre, PT, DPT

Melissa McIntyre is a physical therapist and clinical evaluator with the Utah Program for Inherited Neuromuscular Disorders (UPIN) at the University of Utah. Through UPIN, her work focuses on research and clinical care of neuromuscular disorders affecting both adult and pediatric populations. Melissa knows the assessment of motor function and change is a complex task where no one outcome measure is appropriate for all individuals or disorders. Her ambition is to continually advance and improve the ability to assess motor function and change in neuromuscular diseases.

Melissa is involved with multiple projects focusing on validation and development of novel outcome measures in neuromuscular disorders, including Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Myotonic Dystrophy, Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy. In addition to her work on multiple clinical trials, Melissa looks to minimize the barriers patients face when engaging in independent recreation and physical activity regardless of their physical limitations. As is the case with outcome measures, there is no one size fit all when it comes to adaptive sports.

Melissa received her Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Utah. In her free time, she enjoys any activity that takes her to the mountains.


Amelia Wilson, PT, DPT

Amelia Wilson was born and raised in Wisconsin and then came out to the University of Utah for her undergrad and graduate studies. Amelia returned to Wisconsin after physical therapy school and worked in school based and inpatient settings and then worked in Nashville TN in outpatient orthopedic physical therapy. She has experience working with adults and children with a variety of medical diagnosis including neurologic, orthopedic and developmental conditions. Amelia found her way back the mountains of Utah and joined UPIN as a physical therapist and clinical evaluator in January of 2018.  She enjoys rock climbing, trail running and hiking.


Jazmine Danh


Lauren Branigan

Lauren grew up in the Hudson Valley area of New York where she obtained a BA in Psychology with a minor in English at SUNY New Paltz. Lauren was able to complete her Master of Arts thesis work in General Psychology at Hunter College studying the neural substrates of avoidance behavior in rats in Dr. Joseph LeDoux’s lab at the NYU Center for Neural Science. Upon graduation and publication of her thesis, Lauren was hired as a research associate in Dr. LeDoux’s lab where she worked on several projects studying neural circuits involved in the acquisition of fear learning and extinction behavior.

As part of the pediatric neurology group at UPIN, Lauren has the pleasure of working closely with children and young adults, a population she has always intended to work with. Lauren has plans to pursue a PhD in developmental psychology with a focus on childhood trauma and the development of psychopathology with a concentration in bipolar spectrum disorders. In her spare time Lauren enjoys yoga, baking, hiking, reading, puzzles, and live music.


Sarah Chambers


Teresa Janecki


Tate Keough

Tate Keough was born in Utah, has lived in Rhode Island, California, Nevada, but has gratefully enjoyed living most of her life here in Utah. She has always wanted to work in health care taking care of patients and has recently made the change from phlebotomy to research coordinating in our pediatric neurology department. There is so much to learn and things are constantly changing and growing, she loves the challenge. She is open to different educational opportunities that will continue to grow and develop her love for helping people. When Tate isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, including her husband, Eddie, and her two dogs, Tucker and Scooby Doo. They love spending time outdoors hiking and camping. They will be welcoming a baby girl in September 2021. She has gotten a good taste of traveling the world the last couple of years, London is her favorite so far and she is looking forward to exploring the rest of the world with her growing family.


Sarah Moldt

Sarah Moldt spent most of her life eating her way through Southern California. She first started her career in research during her undergraduate years at the University of California – San Diego (Go Tritons!) developing a clinical trial education program for Asian American and Pacific Islanders. Now she works as a research coordinator at the U, with trials in several neuromuscular dystrophies such as FSHD, SMA, and Duchenne.


Crystal Neate

Crystal Neate has a love and passion for health. But the story neither starts nor ends here. Born in Scottsdale, Arizona in the spring, this desert flower was transplanted from the Valley of the Sun to the Wasatch Mountains of Salt Lake City where she flourished and evolved into the adventurous and competitive active person she’s become.

She enjoys the great outdoors and all things natural, and is a natural athlete to boot. She has traveled extensively; from climbing Hawaii’s Maunakea to camping in the Florida Everglades and has enjoyed lounging leisurely in Boston commons to snorkeling in La Jolla cove.

After graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in Health Promotion and Education, she started working in neuro-vascular research before joining UPIN, and is pursuing a MPH with an emphasis in epidemiology and global health. She will then fulfill her lifetime love of learning by getting her doctorate in naturopathy and hopes to one day have a holistic practice.

When not working in the health field, she’s tending to her herb gardens, taking in neglected animals, and creating new concoctions in the kitchen. If asked to describe herself, she’d say “I’m a la cross between Jimmy Buffet and Martha Stewart” and “A Utah Man am I !”


Michael Papadakis

Mike Papadakis is a Utah native with an education in Exercise Science and Psychology. In addition to being a total nerd, his interests include soccer, capoeira, and spending time with his two dogs.


Kelsee Parry, MS 

Kelsee Parry spent her entire childhood at a soccer field whether it was practicing, playing, or watching her siblings she always had a ball at her feet. The majority of her weekends were spent traveling to tournaments all over the country. At the age of sixteen she spent the summer playing at Manchester United in England. Upon returning to the U.S. she began playing for The Real Salt Lake Women’s Team. She continued playing for RSL while attending the University of Utah obtaining two bachelor’s degrees in psychology and human development. Her soccer career came to an abrupt halt after sustaining too many concussions and being forced to retire. Kelsee’s focus then turned solely to academics. She continued on to receive a master’s degree in human development and is currently working on her dissertation pertaining to the subject of post traumatic growth to complete her Ph.D. After spending three years administering neuropsychological testing she made the move to clinical research and found a strong passion for advancing medicine.

Kelsee reconnected with soccer through coaching and in 2017 founded a non-profit organization called Everybody Plays. The non-profit provides scholarships to low income children helping them play competitive soccer.

In her free time, she loves to read, hike with her dog Harley, and work on her dissertation.


April Cao, Student

April was born and raised in the Vietnam and moved to U.S in 2015 to pursue her study. Her interest in science and medical research drew her to the University of Utah and she is now working toward an undergraduate degree in Medical Laboratory Science. Outside of the lab, she enjoys hiking and trying out different sports with friends.


Emily Woolsey, Student

Emily Woolsey is working towards a double major in biology and chemistry with a hope to go into neurology after medical school. Currently, she’s working on a study involving kids with myotonic dystrophy. This includes helping them in the MRI and encouraging them to keep going when they get tired!


Brenden Roberts


Italia Perez