Meet the Biobank Team

Steven Melnick, PhD., MD

Medical Director, Nicklaus Children’s Biobank


Dr. Melnick, serves as the Principal Investigator and the Medical Director of the Nicklaus Children’s Biobank (NCB) with responsibility for oversight of all aspects of this project and for assuring compliance with all policies and procedures by NCB staff.

Dr. Melnick received a B.Sc. degree in Physics at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec. Later he pursued a doctoral research in Chemical Physics and earned a Ph.D., at McGill University, Department of Chemistry in the field of nuclear quadrupole resonance spectroscopy. Following a Post-doctoral Fellowship in the same field, he began Medical School at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario and subsequently, residency training in Pathology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach, Florida. He continued his career in medicine as an attending Pathologist at Miami Children’s Hospital (now Nicklaus Children’s Hospital). In addition to his clinical activities, he established a research program in cell and molecular biology, with a particular focus on cancer research including ethnobotanical drug discovery. Currently, Dr. Melnick serves as Chief, Department of Pathology and Clinical laboratories at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

Paula S. Espinal, MD., MPH

Manager, Nicklaus Children’s Biobank

photoDr. Espinal serves as the Co-Principal Investigator and the Manager of the Nicklaus Children’s Biobank (NCB), and participates in the design and conduct of implementation science, biobanking and genomics at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Personalized Medicine Initiative. Dr. Espinal leads the operational component and management for the Nicklaus Children’s Biobank, and is responsible for its strategic development and sustainability. She oversees scientific operations and coordination with scientific committees, as well as day-to-day technical process, and the implementation of policies, procedures, and protocols for acquisition and storage of Biobank samples.

Dr. Espinal is certified by the American Association of Tissue Banks, as well as Biospecimen Research Methods by International Society for Biological and Environmental Repository (ISBER). She also received training on Fundamentals of Clinical and Translational Research Certificate by The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center. She has seven plus years of experience in a broad range of research infrastructure, covering clinical trials, translational sciences and genomic medicine. She received her medical degree from Santo Domingo Institute of Technology (INTEC), and her Mater of Public Health from the University of Miami.

Leat Perez, Sr. CRC

Senior Clinical Research Coordinator

photoLeat serves as a Sub-Investigator and the Senior Clinical Research Coordinator of the Nicklaus Children’s Biobank (NCB), and is responsible for leading the development of the Biobank infrastructure, as well as assisting with project management including participant recruitment, data management, biospecimen collection, processing, and banking.

Leat received a Bachelor’s degree in the Biological Basis of Behavior at the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated with Honors. Before joining the Nicklaus Children’s family, Leat worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Department of Genetics at the Perelman School of Medicine, where she helped implement a family-based genomic study on neuropsychiatric conditions. Leat has over 7 years of research training and experience in large-scale genomic research, genotype-phenotype quantitative trait analysis, as well as biobanking.

Contact Information

George E. Batchelor Research and Academic Pavilion
3100 SW 62nd Ave
Suite 214
Miami, FL 33155
(786) 624-2561