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Keynote Speakers


 

Erin Brockovich

Erin Brockovich

Say the name Erin Brockovich and you think, strong, tough, stubborn and sexy. Erin is all that and definitely more. She is a modern-day "David" who loves a good brawl with today's "Goliaths". She thrives on being the voice for those who don't know how to yell. She is a rebel. She is a fighter. She is a mother. She is a woman. She is you and me.

It's been 10 years since Julia Roberts starred in the Oscar-winning tour de force Erin Brockovich. The film turned an unknown legal researcher into a 20th century icon by showcasing how her dogged persistence was the impelling force behind the largest medical settlement lawsuit in history. Since then, Erin hasn't been resting on her laurels... she continues to fight hard and win big!

This gutsy broad doesn't apologize for who she is. She has always loved going head to head with the big boys and was never intimated by their bravado. She learned how to come out on top from her tight-knit mid-western family in Lawrence, Kansas. Erin was the youngest child of an industrial engineer father and journalist mother. Her parents always believed that she could do anything she set her mind to if she learned to focus her amazing energy.

After a few years roaming around at various colleges, Erin decided that she wanted to be a California girl. She first landed a job as a management trainee for K-Mart but when that didn't make her swagger, she decided to study electrical engineering. But that wasn't enough for the Kansas beauty... on a fluke, she entered the Miss Pacific Coast beauty pageant... and, not surprising, won the title. When she realized that beauty pageants weren't her thing, Erin, her husband and two children settled in Reno, Nevada. After divorcing, the single mother became a secretary at a brokerage firm where she met and married her second husband. But that marriage was short lived and the now mother of three was solo again.

Up until this point, Erin was the average divorced single mother trying to make a living... until she crossed paths with lawyer, Ed Masry, and this meeting changed the course of both their lives.

After being seriously injured in a traffic accident in Reno, Erin moved back to California's San Fernando Valley, and hired Masry & Vititoe to represent her. They won a small settlement but she still needed work so she got a job at their law firm as a file clerk. It was while organizing papers on a pro bono real estate case that Erin first found medical records that would explode into the largest direct action lawsuit in US history.

Erin's exhaustive investigation uncovered that Pacific Gas & Electric had been poisoning the small town of Hinkley's Water for over 30 years. It was because of Erin's unwavering tenacity that PG & E had now been exposed for leaking toxic Chromium 6 into the ground water. This poison affected the health of the population of Hinkley. In 1996, as a result of the largest direct action lawsuit of its kind, spearheaded by Erin and Ed Masry, the utility giant was forced to pay out the largest toxic tort injury settlement in US history: $333 million in damages to more than 600 Hinkley residents.

The story and eventual film made "Erin Brockovich" a household name. Over time, Erin realized that she could use her notoriety to spread positive messages of personal empowerment and to encourage others to stand up and make a difference.

Erin Brockovich has conquered all forms of media. Her first TV project was ABC's 2001 Special, Challenge America With Erin Brockovich, where she helped motivate and organize the rebuilding of a dilapidated park in downtown Manhattan. This show is best described as "Extreme Make-Over Home Edition" on steroids. For three seasons, Erin hosted the Lifetime series, Final Justice With Erin Brockovich. The show celebrated everyday women who triumphed when faced with overwhelming adversity.

Erin then dominated the world of publishing with her New York Times Business Bestseller, Take It From Me: Life's A Struggle, But You Can Win. She has also written two fiction novels, Rock Bottom and Hot Water.

Because of her fighting spirit, Erin has become the champion of countless women and men. She is this generation's "Dear Abby", and in fact receives thousands of "Dear Erin" letters and emails each year from people who are begging for help and support in their own personal struggles. Erin proudly answers every one of them.

As President of Brockovich Research & Consulting, she is currently involved in numerous environmental projects worldwide. She has requests for her help in ground water contamination complaints in every state of the US, Australia and other international hot spots. She is currently working on cases in California, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri.

Erin is one of the most requested speakers on the international lecture circuit and travels the world for personal appearances. She is a true American hero whose icon status, and "stick-to-it-iveness" only fuels her determination to expose injustice and lend her voice to those who do not have one.

 

Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian

Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian

Sarkis Mazmanian received a B.S. (1995) and a Ph.D. (2002) from the University of California at Los Angeles. Prior to joining the faculty of the California Institute of Technology in 2006, where he is currently a professor in the Division of Biology, he was affiliated with the University of Chicago (2002–2005) and Harvard Medical School (2005–2006). His scientific articles have appeared in such publications as Science, Nature, PNAS, and Cell.

Sarkis Mazmanian is a microbiologist investigating the mechanisms underlying the symbiotic relationship between hosts and their beneficial microbial partners. Non-pathogenic bacteria colonize virtually every tissue type with exposure to the external environment; the enteric bacteria found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which contains by far the largest number and species of bacteria, have long been known to provide benefits such as delivering certain nutrients and protection against pathogenic bacteria. In a series of studies, Mazmanian and colleagues have teased out the complex interplay between gut bacterial species and the host immune system. His results show, for example, that the probiotic species B. fragilis expresses a molecule known as polysaccharide A, which suppresses a specific immune pathway in the host that would otherwise generate an inflammatory response to a different bacterium, H. hepaticus. Absent this suppression, H. hepaticus triggers pathologic changes in the GI tract similar to ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. More recently, Mazmanian found that enteric bacteria can influence the progression of immune activity in distant tissues such as the nervous system. In a mouse model of multiple sclerosis (a human autoimmune disease), he demonstrated that germ-free animals, which are otherwise resistant to induced autoimmune brain inflammation, become susceptible after their GI tract is exposed to segmented filamentous bacteria, suggesting a specific role that intestinal bacterial fauna could play in the development of autoimmune disorders in tissues distant from the intestines (e.g., the central nervous system). On the basis of his results and others', Mazmanian has posited that harmless bacteria induce host immune tolerance by manipulating pathways that distinguish self from pathogen, a distinction that goes awry in autoimmune diseases. By elucidating the critical role of these microbes in human health, Mazmanian is laying the foundation for a new understanding of human-microbiome symbiosis that could lead to new therapies or preventive treatments for a broad class of human diseases.

 

 

Featured Speakers


 

 

Tim Adams, Esq

Tim Adams, Esq

Tim Adams is the principal attorney at Adams & Associates, APLC, a disability rights law firm in Orange County, California. For over a decade, Tim has zealously represented children affected by autism. Tim serves as a resource to families and professionals across the country through presentations and seminars on special education law. He received his Bachelor's degree from the University of California, Irvine and his Juris Doctorate degree from Pepperdine University School of Law. He has served as an adjunct professor and Associate Director of the Special Education Advocacy Clinic, Pepperdine University School of Law. He has also trained Orange County Superior Court Judges regarding special education law. Tim is a board member of the Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law & Advocacy (EBCALA). He enjoys snowboarding, stand up paddleboarding and traveling. Tim lives with his wife, Rose and three daughters in Orange, California.

 

Dr. Suzanne Goh

Dr. Suzanne Goh

Dr. Goh is a pediatric behavioral neurologist with expertise in the treatment of children with autism. She is a Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Harvard Medical School. She is co-author of the book Spectacular Bond: Reaching the Child with Autism and has co-authored the ASD Language series of educational programs which teach cognition and language to children with autism. In 2014 she established Pediatric Neurology Therapeutics, PC, a multi-disciplinary clinic in San Diego that offers comprehensive treatment for children neurodevelopmental disorders. The clinic offers integrated services in neurology, holistic health, speech therapy, occupational therapy, music therapy, family counseling, and intensive behavioral intervention, with the goal of providing a single integrated solution and a therapeutic home for families and children with neurological special needs.

 

Dr. David Houston

Dr. Devin Houston

Devin Houston, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of Houston Enzymes. Dr. Houston obtained his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine. His graduate work focused on enzyme discovery and subsequent research at University of Virginia and Saint Louis University focused on enzyme mechanisms involved in cellular communication. Dr. Houston followed his academic career with several years of research and development in enzyme manufacturing with special focus on the digestive needs of those with autism. His company, Houston Enzymes, provides a variety of targeted enzyme products for digestive support.

 

Tia Jones

Tia Jones

Tia Jones earned her Bachelor of Science in English at the University of Detroit-Mercy. Having worked briefly in elementary classrooms, and providing tutoring to students in reading, it was her work at the Lindamood-Bell center in Birmingham, MI that ignited a passion for providing direct instruction to people of all ages. She then began her career at Lindamood-Bell more than 12 years ago, and has since held various leadership positions within Lindamood-Bell centers across the country. Though much of her experience has been in the learning centers, she has also worked with Lindamood-Bell For Schools, and shared her instructional knowledge with Administrators, teachers, and parents in the Professional Development division. She now brings the totality of her well rounded Lindamood-Bell experience to the Greater Orange County and South Bay areas, serving as the Executive Center Director of the Newport and Manhattan Beach Learning Centers.

 

Elizabeth McCoy, Esq

Elizabeth McCoy, Esq

Elizabeth McCoy has been a licensed Attorney in California since 1997, practicing primarily in the area of special needs trusts, conservatorship, and estate planning for families who have a child with Autism or other special needs. Mrs. McCoy earned her Juris Doctor from Washington University School of Law. During law school, she was the Jan Adam Zuckerman scholarship recipient, and a staff member for the Washington University Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law. Since 1988, Mrs. McCoy has also been a licensed Landscape Architect. Prior to practicing law, she produced landscape architectural plans for Disney theme parks and 5-star Ritz Carlton and Marriott hotels throughout the world. Mrs. McCoy has been a proud supporter of TACA since 2006. She lives in North San Diego County with her husband Mike and two sons Atticus and August.

 

Dr. Robert K. Naviaux

Dr. Robert K. Naviaux

Dr. Naviaux is the founder and co-director of the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center (MMDC), and Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, Pathology, and Genetics at UCSD. He directs a core laboratory for metabolomics at UCSD. He is the co-founder and a former president of the Mitochondrial Medicine Society (MMS), and a founding associate editor of the journal Mitochondrion. He is an internationally known expert in human genetics, inborn errors of metabolism, metabolomics, and mitochondrial medicine. He is the discoverer of the cause of Alpers syndrome—the oldest Mendelian form of mitochondrial disease—and the developer of the first DNA test to diagnose it. His lab also discovered the first mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations that cause genetic forms of autism. Dr. Naviaux's lab has developed a number of advanced technologies like biocavity laser spectroscopy and mtDNA mutation detection by mass spectrometry. He is a Salk-trained virologist, and molecular and cell biologist, the inventor of the popular pCL retroviral gene transfer vectors, and was trained at NIH in tumor immunology and natural killer cell biology. In 2011, he received a Trailblazer Award from Autism Speaks. His 2013 paper reporting preclinical studies on the role of purinergic signaling and the cell danger response in autism was ranked the #1 most-viewed report of 2013 on the Simons Foundation autism web site. He is currently the director of the first FDA-approved clinical trial to study the safety and efficacy of antipurinergic drug therapy using suramin as a new treatment for autism.

 

Dr. Dan Rossignol

Dr. Dan Rossignol

Dr. Dan Rossignol received his Doctorate of Medicine at the Medical College of Virginia and completed his residency in family medicine at the University of Virginia. Coming from an academic background, Dr. Rossignol searched the medical literature looking for a solution after both of his children were diagnosed with autism. He has made it his mission to research and publish in autism. Since 2006, he has 53 papers, abstracts, editorials, and book chapters concerning autism and related conditions. Dr. Rossignol is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians (FAAFP) and a Fellow of the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs (FMAPS).

 

Lanier Rossignol, BSN FNP-C

Lanier Rossignol, BSN, FNP-C

Lanier Rossignol, BSN FNP-C received her graduate training as a Family Nurse Practitioner and her Master's in Nursing from the University of Virginia. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in Neurobiochemistry and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Virginia. After her two sons were diagnosed with autism, she sought information from a number of sources including researchers, specialists, the medical literature, and she attended 6-8 autism medical conferences per year to help find answers for her sons. As biomedically-based treatments helped her sons begin speaking, she became more involved in research including 3 studies examining the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in autism. After years of focusing on both her sons and her own medical issues, she has now joined her husband, Dr. Rossignol, and his medical practice as a Nurse Practitioner to try to help families struggling with the underlying medical issues of autism. Lanier has a special interest in autism spectrum disorders, PANS/PANDAS, chronic fatigue, and health and wellness through diet, supplements and exercise.

 

Dr. William Shaw

Dr. William Shaw

William Shaw, PhD, is board certified in the fields of clinical chemistry and toxicology by the American Board of Clinical Chemistry. Before he founded The Great Plains Laboratory, Inc., Dr. Shaw worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Children's Mercy Hospital, University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Medicine, and Smith Kline Laboratories. He is the author of Biological Treatments for Autism and PDD, originally published in 1998 and Autism: Beyond the Basics, published in 2009. He is also a frequent speaker at conferences worldwide.

Dr. Shaw is the stepfather of a child with autism and has helped thousands of patients and medical practitioners to successfully improve the lives of people with autism, AD(H)D, Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, bipolar disorder, chronic fatigue, depression, fibromyalgia, immune deficiencies, multiple sclerosis, OCD, Parkinson's disease, seizure disorders, tic disorders, Tourette syndrome, and other serious conditions.

 

Dr. THeo Theoharides

Dr. Theo Theoharides

Dr. Theoharides is Professor of Pharmacology and Internal Medicine, as well as Director of Molecular Immunopharmacology and Drug Discovery at Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston. He was born in Thessaloniki, where he graduated from Anatolia College. He received all his degrees with Honors from Yale University, and was awarded the Dean’s Research Award and the Winternitz Price in Pathology. He trained in internal medicine at New England Medical Center, which awarded him the Oliver Smith Award “recognizing excellence, compassion and service.” He also received a Certificate in Global Leadership from the Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He served on the Hellenic Supreme Health Advisory Board, IKA and IFET. He is a member of 15 academies and scientific societies. He has published 390 peer-reviewed papers (JBC, JACI, JPET, NEJM, Nature, PNAS, Science) and 3 textbooks with 23,849 citations (h-index 74) and he is in the top 5% of authors most cited in pharmacological and immunological journals. He first showed that mast cells, known for causing allergic reactions, are critical for inflammation, especially in the brain, and most recently in the pathogenesis of autism and brain fog. Ηe has been awarded 17 patents. He was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha National Medical Honor Society and the Rare Diseases Hall of Fame. He has received the Tufts Alumni Award for Faculty Excellence, the Tufts Distinguished Faculty Recognition Award, Boston Mayor’s Community Award, and the Dr. George Papanicolau Award, as well as Honorary Doctor of Medicine from Athens University and Honorary Doctor of Sciences from Hellenic-American University. He is “Archon” of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

 

Dr. Anju Usman

Dr. Anju Usman

Dr. Usman is director and owner of True Health Medical Center and Pure Compounding Pharmacy in Naperville, Illinois. She specializes in biomedical interventions for children with ADD, Autism, PANDAS/PANS, Down Syndrome, and related disorders. She has been involved in research regarding copper/zinc imbalances, metallothionein dysfunction, biofilm related infections and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. She is on the executive committee for the Autism Society of Illinois, and also serves on the advisory boards for TACA (Talk About Curing Autism) and Generation Rescue. She is a faculty member of MAPS (Medical Academy for Pediatric Special Needs). Dr. Usman received her medical degree from Indiana University and completed a residency in Family Practice at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. She is board certified in Family Practice and Integrative and Holistic Medicine (ABIHM).

 

Kristin Selby-Gonzalez

Kristin Selby-Gonzalez

Kristin has given lectures worldwide, educating thousands throughout the years on di erent strategies to help children on the autism spectrum. In addition to her trainings and certi cations, ristin brings her own e perience as a mother of a child on the spectrum. As of September 2012, Kristin works at the Autism Hope Alliance where she is now serving as President Chairman.