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Eric C. Liao, M.D., Ph.D.


Dr. Eric C. Liao is a surgeon-scientist focused on translating fundamental discoveries to clinical impact. Dr. Liao is the Founding Director of the Center of Craniofacial Innovation at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. His vision of the Center is to leverage convergent advances in fetal care, human genetics, developmental biology and cell/gene therapy to initiate first-in-child clinical trials and treatments.  Dr. Liao is active in recruiting faculty, developing collaborations, and mentoring trainees to achieve this goal. As a surgeon, Dr. Liao cares for patients born with orofacial clefts and complex craniofacial conditions.  Dr. Liao leads the Department of Surgery as the Vice Chair of Academic Affairs, where he is dedicated to nurturing trainees and faculty toward impactful academic careers. As a bridge builder, Dr. Liao also leads as an advisor on the CHOP Research Institute Chief Scientific Officer leadership team. Dr. Liao is committed to nurturing a diverse workforce that represents and serves CHOP and the Philadelphia community. “As a surgeon it is incredibly humbling and rewarding to restore form and function to patients born with cleft lip and palate anomalies.  With research, we hope our discoveries will lay the foundation for advances that will impact patients everywhere."


Abinaya Arulselvan, B.D.S., M.P.H.

Clinical Research Program Manager

Abinaya earned her Bachelor of Dental Surgery from M.S Ramaiah Dental College, India and Master of Public Health from Drexel University, Philadelphia. She is a certified clinical research professional and has worked extensively with the Directors of the Pediatric Platelet Disorder, Thalassemia and Sickle-cell Centers within the Division of Hematology in understanding the biology of these conditions and to develop targeted therapies to improve outcomes. Her projects involved managing and execution of all phases of adult and pediatric clinical trials for rare hematological disorders including multiple gene therapy studies. Abinaya is the current Clinical Research Program Manager for the Division of Plastic, Reconstructive and Oral Surgery and is responsible for providing administrative, regulatory, and scientific leadership in the conduct of research programs within the division. She is an active member of SOCRA and an elected member of the Steering and Education committee of PROSPER at CHOP.

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Kajal Patel, MPH, BDS

Clinical Research Coordinator

Kajal earned her Bachelor of Dental Surgery from MGM Dental College, India and Master of Public Health from Temple University, Philadelphia. She has worked extensively on the development of a mobile application for oral cancer screening and detection. She effectively collaborated with multidisciplinary experts including clinicians, researchers, software developers, UI/UX developers, ensuring a harmonious synergy among various domains crucial for app development. Kajal is currently working as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Center for Craniofacial Innovation. Her responsibilities include subject screening and recruitment, biospecimen processing, accurate input, organization, and maintenance of research-related data, managing and ensuring regulatory aspects of research studies. Outside her professional endeavors, Kajal loves to travel and explore various cuisines.


Jinggang Jenny Ng, MA

Craniofacial Research Fellow

Jinggang is a Craniofacial Research Fellow and current medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. She is interested in cleft care, craniofacial surgery, and improving access to global healthcare.


Dominic Romeo, MA

Craniofacial Research Fellow

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Justin Cotney, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Genomic Sciences

Dr. Cotney received his undergraduate degree in Biology in 2002 from Birmingham-Southern College, where he studied the catalytic activities of acetylcholinesterase enzymes from amphioxus with Dr. Leo Pezzementi. He attended graduate school at Emory University in the program of Genetics and Molecular Biology completing his PhD in 2008. Under Dr. Gerald Shadel, he studied the roles of two human mitochondrial transcription factors, TFB1M and TFB2M, in mitochondrial transcription, translation, and retrograde signaling. Dr. Cotney performed postdoctoral work in the labs of Mike Snyder and James Noonan at Yale University. During is his time there Dr. Cotney developed techniques to apply ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq technologies to very limiting embryonic tissue leading to the identification of tens of thousands of enhancers active in the developing limbs, brains, and craniofacial tissue of mouse, rhesus, and human. Starting in 2015, Dr. Cotney served as assistant professor in the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences and the Institute for Systems Genomics at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Dr. Cotney joined the Center for Craniofacial Innovation in 2024 and is focused on understanding long range gene regulation during mammalian development, understanding the evolution of enhancers, and deciphering combinatorial codes of chromatin regulators during neuronal development.


Blanca Carpio

Executive Secretary

Blanca Carpio is an Executive Secretary with over twenty years of experience.  She is responsible for Dr. Liao’s academic, clinical and surgical calendar.  She specializes in administrative technology and organizational applications. Blanca is inspired daily by her family.  In her free time, Blanca likes to listen to music, enjoys pizza and movie nights, travel, and time with family.


Peter Tran, Ph.D.

Grants and Scientific Writer

Peter earned his Ph.D in Chemical and Biological Engineering from Northwestern University, studying metabolic dynamics in bacterial biofilms. He is passionate about science communication and illustration in order to make science accessible for all. He joined the Liao lab as a scientific writer to help translate science from the bench into the clinic.  Outside the lab, Peter enjoys running, board games, and watching competitive cooking shows with his partner and cat.

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Meagan Wu, MA

Craniofacial Research Fellow

Meagan Wu is a Craniofacial Research Fellow at CHOP and medical student at Thomas Jefferson University. Prior to medical school, she received her BA in Art Practice and MA in Art History from Stanford University. Meagan plans to pursue Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and has interests in medical illustration, education, and the medical humanities.

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