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About

Upstate Cord Blood Bank

As one of only two public cord blood banks in the State of New York, Upstate Cord Blood Bank in Syracuse is a not-for-profit public and family banking center. Our state-of-the-art facility is a silver LEED green building located on the beautiful Upstate Medical University’s Community Campus. We provide testing, processing, cryopreservation, storage, and distribution of cord blood from mothers that is used for lifesaving medical treatments, as well as for medical research.

We are dedicated to improving the health and quality of life for people suffering from serious medical conditions using donated cord blood. We hope, with further research, we will one day cure many more diseases.

Staff

Dr. Nicholas Greco, PhD

Executive Director and Tissue Bank Director

grecon@upstate.edu

Nick Greco

Nicholas Greco, PhD is our Executive Director and Tissue Bank Director at the Upstate Cord Blood Bank. He has maintained these roles since joining our team in 2014. Dr. Greco is also on faculty as a Clinical Assistant Professor at Upstate Medical University. 

In 1985, Dr. Greco earned his PhD in Physiological Biochemistry from Ohio State University with type I diabetic research and other blood dysfunctions. He completed extensive postdoctoral training in Pharmacology at the Ohio State Veterinary College and at the American Red Cross, Jerome Holland Laboratories in Rockville, MD. He subsequently served as a staff scientist at the American Red Cross, specializing in the cloning of a novel platelet receptor and cord blood stem cell research.

Dr. Greco has also served on faculty at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in the departments of Cardiology and Hematology/Oncology, during which time he also co-developed the public Cleveland Cord Blood Center. At Cleveland Cord Blood Center, he served on the Board of Directors and as the Processing Facility Director. Under his leadership, they successfully achieved NMDP membership and FACT accreditation and was awarded a HRSA contract under HHS. Dr. Greco has been involved as a consultant in the start-up of four successful public and family cord blood banks throughout the United States.

During Dr. Greco’s involvement of the hybrid public/family cord blood bank in Syracuse, here at the Upstate Cord Blood Bank, he has provided presentations to graduate students, resident fellows, biotechnology students, and members of regional hospital organizations in both domestic and international venues. These presentations encompassed areas of cord blood collection and processing, clinical trial results, and research in regenerative medicine applications. While on faculty at CWRU, his laboratory was involved with research involving cord blood-derived stem cells and microvesicles in areas of peripheral limb ischemia, type I juvenile diabetes, and cardiology regeneration and the generation of tissues (hepatocytes).

Dr. Matthew Elkins, MD, PhD

Laboratory and Medical Director

elkinsm@upstate.edu

Matthew Elkins

Matthew Elkins is the Laboratory Director and Medical Director of processing for the Upstate Cord Blood Bank (UCBB). He is a board-certified physician in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and Transfusion Medicine/Blood Banking. He received both his MD and his PhD in Cell and Structural Biology from the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign in 2008. He completed his Pathology residency and Transfusion Medicine/Blood Banking training at the University of Michigan from 2008 to 2013.

Dr. Elkins is also the Director of Transfusion Medicine, the Director of Apheresis, and the Director of the Stem Cell Laboratory at Upstate Medical University (UMU). He oversees the adult stem cell collection procedures as part of the Bone Marrow Transplant program at UMU. At the UCBB, he uses this experience to oversee and set standards for the processing of the cord blood donations. Dr. Elkins reviews the final testing results on each cord blood unit to ensure its effectiveness and safety for transplantation. He frequently provides presentations on cord blood banking, bone marrow transplantation, and transfusion for medical professionals, students, and the general public.

Dr. Elkins is regionally active as the President-Elect for the Blood Bank Association of New York State (BBANYS), a state-wide professional organization. He is also active nationally as a member of the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) Center for Cellular Therapies, American Society for Apheresis (ASFA), College of American Pathologists (CAP), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), and American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL).

Dr. Robert Silverman, MD

Medical Director

Robert Silverman

Robert Silverman, MD is is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Upstate Medical University (UMU) in Syracuse, New York. He earned his Medical Degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago. He then completed his residency at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn, Michigan, followed by a fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at UMU. After his medical training, Dr. Silverman joined UMU's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He was promoted to the rank of Professor with Tenure in 2009 and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2011.

Dr. Silverman has been a member of numerous state and national committees and task forces, including those for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine. Dr. Silverman was part of the New York State Safe Motherhood Initiative and helped to develop evidence-based management bundles that address the most common causes of maternal death in New York State. 

Dr. Silverman has been a Section Chairman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He is a journal reviewer for multiple publications, including Obstetrics and Gynecology and American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He is one of the leading experts on obesity in pregnancy and has lectured extensively in the United States and worldwide on the treatment and surgical management of this issue. His comprehensive textbook on obesity in Women’s Health will be published by McGraw Hill in February 2017.

Dr. Elizabeth Ruckdeschel, MD, PhD

Assistant Laboratory Director

ruckdese@upstate.edu

Elizabeth Ruckdeschel

Born and raised in Syracuse, Elizabeth Ruckdeschel is the Assistant Laboratory Director for the Upstate Cord Blood Bank (UCBB). Dr. Ruckdeschel received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental/Forest Biology and Biochemistry with an honors thesis based on three years of biochemistry bench research from the SUNY- College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Her MD and PhD in Microbiology and Immunology were both earned from the University of Buffalo in 2009.

During this time, she published multiple papers in the field of vaccine research aimed at protecting patients from organisms that cause otitis media and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations. She then completed a Pathology Residency and Hematopathology training at Upstate Medical University from 2009 to 2014. After completing her training, Dr. Ruckdeschel joined Upstate’s Department of Pathology as an Assistant Professor.

Dr. Ruckdeschel is also the Director of Flow Cytometry at Upstate Medical University (UMU) and is active on UMU’s Pharmacology and Toxicology quality subcommittee on anti-coagulation. She diagnoses leukemias, lymphomas, and other blood disorders at UMU. She particiates in lecturing and teaching medical students and residents, serving as an advisor on masters thesis committees and implementing new testing for both flow cytometry and molecular diagnostics. 

At the UCBB, she uses her laboratory experience to help oversee the laboratory and establish protocols for the reciept, processing, and quality testing of the donated cord blood units. Dr. Ruckdeschel reviews the final testing results on each cord blood unit to ensure its potency for future transplant.

Dr. Ruckdeschel is active nationally as a member of the International Clinical Cytometry Society (ICCS), College of American Pathologists (CAP), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY), and the American Medical Association (AMA).

Heather Shannon, MS, CNM, NP, MPH

Director of Business Development and Hospital Liaison

shannonh@upstate.edu

Heather Shannon

Heather M. Shannon is our Director of Business Development and Hospital Liaison for Upstate Cord Blood Bank (UCBB). Ms. Shannon is a compassionate NYS-licensed midwife with 20 years of experience in Central New York assisting women through the miracle of childbirth. She also has six years of experience as the Perinatal Quality Educational Specialist for the CNY Regional Perinatal Program.

Ms. Shannon is devoted to improving the wellbeing of people in her community, having dedicated her life’s work to public health. She received a Master of Science in Midwifery at University of Rochester in 1997 and a Master of Public Health at Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University in 2012.

Ms. Shannon developed and implemented Upstate’s Midwifery & Gynecology practice. Her primary responsibilities were to oversee the startup and practice growth and ensure the quality of the services being provided.

In her current role at UCBB, she is responsible for the business development and implementation of cord blood collection sites in Upstate New York. Ms. Shannon is also part of the team for marketing and branding. A midwife and cord blood educator, she supports the mission of outreach and education for healthcare professionals and our community through a variety of educational opportunities. 

Ms. Shannon’s professional involvement includes memberships in the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM), the New York State Licensed Midwives (NSALM) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG). She is also a member of the ACOG Committee on Patient Safety and Quality and the ACNM Business Section. Ms. Shannon served as former board member of the Midwifery Business Network, ACOG Safe Motherhood Initiative, Upstate University Hospital Performance Improvement Committee, and the Labor and Delivery Quality Committee. She also graduated from Upstate Leadership Academy.

A highly sought-after speaker in the Central New York region as well as nationally, Ms. Shannon’s expertise in quality perinatal care and midwifery business activities is renowned. She holds faculty appointments at Upstate Medical University College of Medicine and College of Nursing as a Clinical Instructor.

Professional Memberships

  • American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM)
  • New York State Licensed Midwives (NSALM)
  • American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG)
  • ACOG Patient Safety and Quality Committee and ACNM Business Section

Patricia Pontello, MLS (ASCP), CHS (ABHI)

Quality Supervisor

pontellp@upstate.edu

Patty Pontello

Bio Coming Soon

Brandon Bach, MLS (ASCP)CM

Lead Medical Technologist

bachb@upstate.edu

Brandon Bach

Brandon Bach is the Lead Medical Technologist for the Upstate Cord Blood Bank. He received his Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology from SUNY Brockport in 2009. Mr. Bach started his laboratory experience in Rochester, New York before returning to his hometown in central New York in 2012. 

Mr. Bach has over seven years of work experience as a Medical Technologist specializing in both Core Laboratory and Flow Cytometry. Mr. Bach launched his career at Upstate Medical University in 2014 and has worked hard to develop strong relationships within the Department of Clinical Pathology. Given this and his laboratory expertise, he was selectively recruited into his current position at the Upstate Cord Blood Bank. 

Mr. Bach’s background and knowledge of the laboratory have been fundamental to the start-up of the Upstate Cord Blood Bank. With his heart-felt commitment to the organization and strong work ethic, he is highly regarded within the organization and among his co-workers.

Jessica Giacona, MLS (ASCP)CM

Medical Technologist

giaconaj@upstate.edu

Jessica Giacona

Jessica Giacona is our medical technologist here at Upstate Cord Blood Bank. Originally from the Detroit metro area, Ms. Giacona is a two-time alumnus of Wayne State University. She received a Bachelor of Art in Biology in 2010 and a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science in 2013, during which she completed an internship with the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS).

After receiving her ASCP (American Society for Clinical Pathology) certification, UMHS promoted Ms. Giacona to a full-time Medical Laboratory Scientist where she specialized in drug analysis and toxicology. She then became a New York State licensed Medical Technologist, after which she relocated to Central New York in 2015. She began her career at the Upstate Cord Blood Bank in August 2016. With her laboratory expertise, attention to detail and knowledge, Ms. Giacona has been pivotal in advancing the set up and establishment of our state-of-the-art laboratory.

Ms. Giacona’s drive and action-oriented attitude have made her an invaluable asset to the Upstate Cord Blood Bank. We are delighted she has made Central New York her home and UCBB her place of employment.

Annie Straight, MBA

IT Specialist 

Annie Straight

straigha@upstate.edu

Annie Straight is our IT specialist for the Upstate Cord Blood Bank. Ms. Straight thoroughly enjoys solving tech issues and developing software that allows us to advance stem cell access and usage. For Ms. Straight, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to integrate cutting-edge technologies and to serve the Central New York community.

Ms. Straight began her work experience in 1992 with Upstate Medical University (UMU) as a part-time Medical Laboratory Scientist while in college. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Syracuse University, after which she was promoted to a full-time Medical Technologist. In 1994, she began working as an evening shift generalist.

Ms. Straight's interest in information technology led her to pursue a career specializing in laboratory information management systems (LIMS), working at a few nationally recognized software companies. She received her MBA from Medaille College in 2006, while working as a consultant for an emerging LIMS company in Nashville, Tennessee. She returned to Central New York and UMU in July 2016 to become an integral part of the Upstate Cord Blood Bank team.

Ms. Straight has over 18 years of expertise in System Implementation, IT Operations Management, Project Management, Software Development, Customer Support and Customer Service Management.