Meet the Victor Center Team

The Victor Center serves as a national resource to clinical and community organizations around the country. To that end, we:

  • Advocate with professional societies, labs, insurers and healthcare providers to promote coverage of preconception genetic screening and counseling services.
  • Develop turnkey resources to enable Jewish community engagement in outreach and education campaigns.
  • Cultivate the development of “Model Cities” by assisting local collaborations between healthcare providers and Jewish community groups.

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Debbie Wasserman, MS

Genetic Counselor / Lead Outreach Coordinator for the National Victor Center

Deborah Wasserman, MS, is a genetic counselor with over 25 years’ experience in prenatal diagnosis and medical genetics clinics. As the genetic counselor for the Victor Center for the Prevention of Jewish Genetic Diseases, Miami, she provides genetic counseling for Ashkenazi Jewish genetic diseases to students, newlywed couples and other patients. Ms. Wasserman provides follow-up counseling and support for those found to be carriers.

As the outreach coordinator for the Victor Center, Miami, she is the liaison between the Victor Center and community. She is available to run educational programs about the Victor Center and Jewish genetic disease screening, tailored to your organizations needs and interests. Contact her if you're interested in learning more about the Victor Center, organizing a community or campus screening, or getting screened in our office. Debbie can be reached at 786-897-9587 or at Deborah.Wasserman@nicklaushealth.org.


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Evelyn Dean-Olmsted

Outreach Associate, Personalized Medicine Initiative and Research Institute

As an anthropologist, Evelyn María Dean-Olmsted brings her experience working with Jewish and Latin American communities to her work as Outreach Associate for the Victor Center.  Prior to joining the Victor Center/PMI Team at NCHS, she served as Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Puerto Rio, Río Piedras.  Her academic research focuses on how people use language to create knowledge, relationships, and identities.  She has conducted fieldwork in the United States, Mexico, Bolivia, and Puerto Rico. She applies this expertise in her work to expand the Victor Center’s screening and educational services to a broader public.

Dr. Dean-Olmsted holds a Ph.D. in anthropology and Jewish studies from Indiana University and a B.A. in anthropology and Spanish from the University of Pennsylvania.  She can be reached at 786-624-2562 or evelyn.deanolmsted@nicklaushealth.org.


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Saima Aftab. MD

Medical Director, Victor Center

Dr. Saima Aftab is a neonatologist and the Nicklaus Children’s Pediatric Specialists (NCPS) chief of the Section of Neonatology. She also serves as vice president of Strategic Initiatives for Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. In this role, Dr. Aftab is vital to the planning and development of programs aligned to the strategic and tactical vision for the hospital. She leads business development initiatives, identifies new growth areas and assesses strategic partnerships and market opportunities to move the organization forward. In addition, Dr. Aftab provides leadership to the hospital’s Global Health initiative, Nicklaus Children’s Pediatric Virtual Care telehealth service, and the Physician Liaison team, the outreach group that works closely with community physicians.


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Daria Salyakina

Director Personalized Medicine and Health Outcomes Research

Daria Salyakina is an accomplished scientist and research administration leader with twenty years of experience in a broad range of research infrastructure. She has published extensively on population health outcomes, pharmacogenetics, and genomic medicine. Prior to joining NCHS, Dr. Salyakina was principal investigator with the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics group, Center for Computational Science, University of Miami. Dr. Salyakina holds a Ph.D. in statistical genetics from Technical University Munich, Germany and a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration from the School of Business Administration, University of Miami. She has done postdoctoral training at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany; and the John P Hussman Institute for Human Genomics Center for Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami.

In supporting the expansion of the Victor Center’s services, Dr. Salyakina draws on her experience leading diverse teams and working effectively with varied stakeholders to bring genomic medicine to a broader public.


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Shari Debowsky

Director Major Gifts, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Foundation

Shari Debowsky is a Marketing, Fundraising and Outreach professional with over 15 years of experience in the non-profit sector. As the Senior Outreach Associate for the Victor Center for the Prevention of Jewish Genetic Diseases, she provides outreach, awareness and educational events for the Ashkenazi Jewish population across our country. Shari has a passion for pre-conception genetics as her and her husband are both Tay-Sachs carriers. She believes that knowledge is power and knowing what is in your genes allows you to make informed decisions when you are ready to plan for your family.

Shari holds a BA in Holocaust and Judaic Studies as well as a Certificate in Ethnic Studies from Florida Atlantic University.

Contact her if you are interested in learning more about the Victor Center, organizing a community educational program, community screening, or bringing the Victor Center to your neighborhood. Shari can be reached at 786-624-2051 or Shari.Debowsky@nicklaushealth.org.