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Meet Our Sex Development Specialists

Program Clinicians

Earl Y. Cheng, MD

Co-Director, Pediatric Urologist

A co-founding director, Earl Y. Cheng, MD, is a board-certified pediatric urologist. Dr. Cheng completed his urology residency at Northwestern University and his pediatric urology fellowship at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.  He is currently Professor of Urology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He is a national expert in complex reconstructive urology and has a special interest in the medical and surgical management of individuals with sex development conditions. He also co-directs a basic science laboratory with Arun Sharma, PhD, that focuses on tissue engineering techniques for the urinary tract. Dr. Cheng provides direct clinical care as a member of our program's sex development team. View Dr. Cheng's profile video.

Call 1.800.543.7362

Courtney A. Finlayson, MD

Medical Director, Endocrinologist 

Courtney Finlayson, MD, is board-certified in pediatrics and pediatric endocrinology. Dr. Finlayson completed her pediatric residency at Rush University and pediatric endocrinology fellowship at Lurie Children’s Hospital (formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital). She is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Among her clinical and academic efforts, she leads the Gender and Sex Diversity Working Group of the Oncofertility Consortium, which seeks to improve fertility preservation options for individuals with differences in sex development and for those who are transgender. She provides direct clinical care as the endocrinologist in the Gender and Sex Development Program

Call 1.800.543.7362

Diane Chen, PhD

Behavioral Health Director (she/her)

Diane Chen, PhD, is the founding psychologist for the Gender & Sex Development Program, Behavioral Health Director for The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Pediatrics, at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She directs behavioral health services within the Gender & Sex Development Program and provides consultation, assessment, and therapeutic services within the interdisciplinary clinics for transgender and gender expansive youth and for youth with intersex variations/differences in sex development. Dr. Chen maintains an active research program broadly focused on psychosocial functioning, reproductive health and fertility preservation, and medical decision-making among gender and sexual minority youth and young adults.

Dr. Chen received her PhD (2012) and MA (2008) from Temple University, her BA (2004) from the University of Michigan, and completed her pre-doctoral internship (2012) and post-doctoral fellowship (2013) in clinical child and pediatric psychology at Lurie Children’s.

Call 1.800.543.7362

Joel E. Frader, MD, MA

Ethicist

Joel E. Frader, MD, is A Todd Davis Professor of Academic General Pediatrics and Professor of Medical Humanities and Bioethics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Division Head, Pediatric Palliative Care at Lurie Children’s. He is a national leader in pediatric palliative care and bioethics. His interests focus on ethical issues of children in the health care system, especially ethical problems associated with innovation in medicine, organ transplantation, children with sex development conditions and gender identity, and end-of-life care decision making in pediatrics. His major clinical activity is in palliative and hospice care for children.

Allison Goetsch, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor 

Allison Goetsch, MS, CGC, is a board-certified genetic counselor. Allison is a clinical instructor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She has a specific interest in complex medical conditions known to affect fertility and works closely with the Oncofertility Consortium at Northwestern University to conduct fertility-related research and create provider and patient education materials about fertility preservation and restoration. Allison provides genetic counseling and coordination of genetic testing in the Gender and Sex Development program. 

Julia E. Grabowski, MD

Attending Physician, Pediatric Surgery; Member, Lurie Children's Surgical Foundation

Assistant Professor of Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Emilie K. Johnson, MD, MPH

Pediatric Urologist

Emilie K. Johnson, MD, MPH, is a board-certified pediatric urologist. She is an assistant professor in Urology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She completed her residency training at the University of Michigan and a dual fellowship in Pediatric Urology and Health Services Research at Boston Children's Hospital. Dr. Johnson provides urologic care in the DSD arm of the Gender and Sex Development Program, and is leading several clinical research projects aimed at advancing care for individuals with differences of sex development. View Dr. Johnson's profile video.

Call 1.800.543.7362

Elizabeth Leeth, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor 

Elizabeth Leeth, MS, is a board-certified in genetic counselor. Elizabeth is an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics and is the Assistant Director at the Northwestern University Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling. She has a specific interest in the genetics of sex development and has helped to develop genetic testing strategies for the Disorders of Sexual Development clinic. She provides direct clinical care as part of the multidisciplinary Gender and Sex Development program.

Jaclyn L. Papadakis, PhD

Pediatric Psychologist

Jaclyn L. Papadakis, PhD, is a medical psychologist in the Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Lurie Children’s and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She specializes in treating mood, anxiety, and behavioral disorders using evidence-based individual, family, and group psychotherapeutic approaches for youth with chronic health conditions. She works with youth with medical conditions marked by differences of sex development (DSD) as part of the Sex Development Program, providing consultation and psychotherapy. She has additional clinical roles in the hospital, including working with the Spina Bifida Center and as an attending on the Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Consultation Service. She is active in multiple research groups, with a focus on psychosocial and family functioning among youth with chronic health conditions, specifically those with DSD, spina bifida, or diabetes. Dr. Papadakis received her PhD (2018), MA (2015), and BS (2010) in Clinical Psychology from Loyola University Chicago, and completed her pre-doctoral internship (2018) and post-doctoral training (2019) in Clinical Child and Pediatric Psychology at Lurie Children’s.

Call 1.800.543.7362

J. Whitehead, MD

Pediatric Endocrinologist

Dr. J Whitehead (they/them) is a Pediatric Endocrinologist at Lurie Children’s and an Assistant Professor of Endocrinology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. They completed their residency in pediatrics and their fellowship in pediatric endocrinology at Lurie Children’s. As part of the transgender community, Dr. Whitehead is passionate about improving access to and quality of care for transgender and gender-diverse kids, as well as kids with intersex traits or differences of sex development. They are a member of the Pediatric Endocrine Society’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion task force and the Lurie Children’s Pediatric Resident and Fellow Diversity & Inclusion Committee. They provide direct clinical care in the Gender & Sex Development Program.

Call 312.227.6090

Elizabeth B. Yerkes, MD

Pediatric Urologist

Elizabeth B. Yerkes, MD​, is a board-certified pediatric urologist. Dr. Yerkes completed her urology residency at Vanderbilt University and her Pediatric Urology fellowship at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. She is Associate Professor of Urology and has been on faculty at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago since 2005. As a member of the Division of Pediatric Urology, she is Director of Pediatric and Adolescent Urogynecology and Co-Director of Complex Reconstruction. Dr. Yerkes has special interest in the medical and surgical care of individuals with sex development conditions and associated complex anomalies of the genitourinary tract.  

Call 1.800.543.7362

Program Staff

Danielle Lee

Program Coordinator

Danielle Lee, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the clinical coordinator of the Sex Development program at Lurie Children’s. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of St. Thomas and has great interest in psychosocial support within the clinical setting. Danielle is the point of contact for families within the Sex Development program and helps develop and facilitate family centered supports, events, and resources.
 

Adam Davies, BS

Health Educator (they/them)

Adam Davies is a Health Educator for both the Sex Development Program and the Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children’s Hospital. They hold a Bachelor’s in Social Policy and Gender Studies from Northwestern University. In their role they serve as a patient advocate for youth who identify as intersex or have differences of sex development. They also assist with creating educational materials for parents and youth who have differences of sex development and facilitating sensitivity trainings. In the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Adam teaches sex education, substance use prevention, and facilitates gender inclusivity trainings.