Ali Abu-Alfa, MD, FASN (Secretary)

Ali Abu-Alfa is a Professor of Medicine and Head of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at the American University of Beirut. Before he joined AUB in the fall of 2010, he spent 20 years of his career at the Yale School of Medicine in the Section of Nephrology. Dr Abu-Alfa is co-president of the North American Chapter of the International Society for Peritoneal Dialysis and is a member of the Dialysis Advisory Group of the American Society of Nephrology. His interest and work on NSF have focused on developing policies and strategies for reducing the risk of NSF, and screening for kidney disease before administration of gadolinium-based contrast agents. He has published and co-authored 11 papers on NSF, has lectured internationally on NSF and has been active in organizing and chairing an annual scientific symposium dedicated to NSF and GBCA since 2007.

Irwin Braverman, MD

Irwin Braverman is a Professor of Dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine, where he has been an esteemed educator for 50 years. He received the “Lifetime Career Educator” Award from the Dermatology Foundation in 2008. He is a world recognized pioneer in medical educational techniques that employ fine art (and its careful visual interpretation) to enhance visual diagnostic skills. In recent years he has theorized a genetic defect was responsible for the unusual physical appearance of the Pharaoh Akhenaten, as depicted in ancient artwork. He is a member of the Global Fibrosis Foundation Medical Advisory Council.


Nick Clements (Treasurer)

Nicholas Clements is an international investment banker and lawyer who concentrates his activities in the United States, the Middle East, and China. He acts as an advisor to government entities and commercial enterprises and has been a frequent guest commentator on CNN International. Nick is Chairman of Octagon Group, Ltd. He previously served as Vice Chairman of Shanghai International Securities and as Chairman/CEO of Clements Taee Ltd., AG Capital Ltd. He has been a visiting lecturer at Yale University and Beijing University, and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Comparative Law at the University of Florence.


Daniel Durda, PhD

Dan Durda is a Principal Scientist in the Department of Space Studies of the Southwest Research Institute's Boulder Colorado office. He has more than twenty years of experience researching the collisional and dynamical evolution of main-belt and near-Earth asteroids, Vulcanoids, Kuiper belt comets, and interplanetary dust. He is an active pilot, with time logged in over a dozen types of aircraft including the F/A-18 Hornet and the F-104 Starfighter, and was a finalist in the 2004 NASA astronaut selection. He serves as a flight astronomer for the SWUIS-A airborne astronomical imaging system flown aboard NASA and military high-performance, high-altitude aircraft and has spent over 110 minutes of time in zero-gravity conducting experiments on NASA's KC-135 Reduced Gravity Research Aircraft. Durda is one of three SwRI payload specialists who will fly on multiple suborbital spaceflights on commercial reusable vehicles. Dan is also a Fellow and a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Association of Astronomical Artists. His space art has appeared in numerous magazines, web news stories, and books and has been internationally exhibited. He has co-authored a book and published dozens of articles popularizing planetary science and human exploration of space.


Avery Lachance, MD

Avery LaChance is a dermatology resident at the Harvard Combined Dermatology Residency Program. She started out her early medical career as a research assistant to Dr. Shawn Cowper, Global Fibrosis Foundation Founder, during her summers in college and for a year after graduating from Middlebury College. During this time, Dr. Cowper was dedicating much of his research career to projects surrounding Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis. Through this experience, Avery developed an early interest in pursuing a career in dermatology which persisted throughout medical school. She will serve as one of Harvard's chief residents for the 2017-2018 academic year and plans to pursue a career in medical dermatology. She has been a Global Fibrosis Foundation Board member since Spring of 2015.


John Morthanos

John is a circulation marketing consultant for niche magazine publishers. His professional background includes key management positions for major media companies. John received his Bachelor of Arts from Hunter College, CUNY.

In 2011, John was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (I.P.F.) at the Yale Winchester Clinic in New Haven CT after a 10-year journey of mis-diagnosis by various local doctors and specialists. In 2012 John received a single lung transplant at New York Presbyterian, Columbia University Medical Center. Post-surgery, in addition to managing his consulting business, he is an advocate for Pulmonary Fibrosis. He began a support group at Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, CT at the request of the pulmonologists at Yale; He is an Ambassador for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation; he has been a presenter at various PILOT C.M.E. sessions discussing his journey with I.P.F., and he is a member of the State of CT Task Force to Study Rare Diseases.

John and his wife Paula live in the Lordship section of Stratford, CT.


Wajahat Z. Mehal, MD PhD

Wajahat Mehal is an Associate Professor of Digestive Diseases and specializes in managing patients with liver fibrosis due to various causes. In addition he has a laboratory based research group that investigates the biological processes that result in liver injury, inflammation, regeneration and fibrosis. His group has identified an important role of pattern recognition receptors and cellular components such as mitochondrial DNA in the development of fibrosis.


Rosalynn Nazarian, MD (President)

Dr. Rosalynn Nazarian is an Assistant Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, and Dermatopathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. She completed her residency in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2008, followed by a Dermatopathology fellowship in the Harvard Combined Program in 2009. Dr. Nazarian was elected to the Board of Directors of the Global Fibrosis Foundation in 2016. Prior to that, she served on the Medical Advisory Council and was awarded their 1st Junior Research Grant Award in 2011. She is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Cutaneous Pathology, and has authored a number of scientific contributions to the peer-reviewed literature. She has demonstrated a strong and enduring interest in Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF), committed to studying the pathophysiologic basis of several cutaneous fibrosing disorders to inform future targeted therapies. She continues to investigate Wnt and Hedgehog signaling pathway activation in NSF, scleroderma, hypertrophic scar and keloid, and has studied whether TGFb1 gene polymorphisms associated with the development and progression of fibrosis in several organ systems predispose patients for NSF. Her work in fibroinflammatory disease and wound healing has led to 11 peer-reviewed publications, two book chapters, eight abstracts presented at national and international meetings, and 16 invited lectures.   


John Varga, MD

Dr. Varga's background can be viewed here.

former DIRECTORs (terms)

Gloria Pennington (2010-2013)

Tom Heany (2010-2013)

Shawn Cowper, MD (2010-2017)

Jacques Sacy (2010-2016)

Shawn Springs (2010-2012)

Eugene Braunwald, MD (2010)

Peter Gerber (2010-2011)

Tony Dorsett (2010-2011)

Celeste Castillo-Lee (2011-2015)

Erica Herzog, MD PhD (2012-2016)

Inger Christensen, RN (2012-2016)

Ann Wingren (2012-2016)

Kelly Proulx (2015-2017)


Cofounders Gloria Pennington and Tom Heany served as the first president and secretary/treasurer (respectively)

Cofounders Gloria Pennington and Tom Heany served as the first president and secretary/treasurer (respectively)

Gloria Pennington
Gloria was the International Executive Director of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation from 1984 to 1992. She was president and CEO of the National Music Foundation from 1992 to 2008. She also served on the board of the New York Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Gloria was the inspiration and heart of the GFF, serving as its president from its founding in 2010 until her resignation for declining health in November 2013. Gloria passed away in 2015.

If you would like to leave a message to be posted on this site to celebrate the memory of Gloria, please send it to the following email address:

Thomas Heany
Thomas Heany is president of Blue Moon Media. From 1992 to 2007 he was Director of Programming for the National Music Foundation. He has consulted with the National Guitar Workshop, Apex Learning, and the Boy Scouts of America, and has served on the board of the Hudson Valley Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Tom served as the first treasurer and secretary of the GFF until 2013.

Cofounder Shawn Cowper, MD, addresses the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine in Berlin in 2007.

Cofounder Shawn Cowper, MD, addresses the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine in Berlin in 2007.

Shawn Cowper, MD
Shawn Cowper is an Associate Professor of Dermatology and Pathology at Yale University School of Medicine and was the first author to report on nephrogenic systemic fibrosis in the world's medical literature. He created and runs the International NSF Registry. He has authored 25 articles and 7 textbook chapters on NSF, and has spoken on the subject all over the world. He serves as the chairman of the Global Fibrosis Foundation Medical Advisory Council.