Meet Our Sex Development Specialists


Sex Development Program Clinicians

Earl Cheng, MD | Co-Director, 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.

Courtney 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

Diane Chen, PhD | Pediatric Psychologist

Diane Chen, PhD, is a medical psychologist in the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics 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 with gender- and sex-diverse youth. Dr. Chen regularly staffs the multidisciplinary Gender Development Clinic for transgender, gender-diverse, and gender questioning youth and the Sex Development Clinic for youth with medical conditions marked by differences of sex development. She is actively involved in the clinical and academic endeavors of the Pediatric/Adolescent Gender and Sex Diversity Fertility Working Group. Her research examines health behavior, mental health, gender identity development and clinical decision-making among gender- and sex-diverse children, adolescents, and youth adults and their families.  

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

Joel Frader, MD | 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. 

Emilie K. Johnson, MD, MPH | Urology​

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. 

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.

Marleta Reynolds, MD | Surgeon

Marleta Reynolds, MD, is Lurie Children's Chief of Surgery and Professor of Surgery at the Feinberg School. Dr. Reynolds is board-certified in general surgery, pediatric surgery and surgical critical care. View Dr. Reynolds' profile video.

Elizabeth B. Yerkes, MD | 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.  

Donald Zimmerman, MD | Endocrinologist

Donald Zimmerman, MD, is Division Head Pediatric Endocrinology. Dr Zimmerman is board-certified in pediatric endocrinology and pediatrics, as well as adult endocrinology and internal medicine. He is Professor of Pediatrics and is the Mae and Benjamin Allen Founder’s Board Professor of Endocrinology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. During his 25 years at Mayo Clinic, he and his colleagues studied new techniques for screening infants for congenital adrenal hyperplasia as well as studying  surgical treatment of this disorder. Dr Zimmerman participates in discussions concerning care of patients in the GSDP clinic  and provides direct care for a number of the patients. 

Program Staff 

Danielle Lee, LCSW | 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.

Jennifer Leininger, MEd | Program Manager

Jennifer Leininger, MEd, manages the Gender & Sex Development Program​ at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. As Program Manager, Jennifer leads community, policy and advocacy initiatives. She specializes in working with schools and organizations to be more inclusive of gender diversity. Jennifer continues to develop and implement educational sessions to support the inclusion of gender expansive youth and their families in their schools and communities. Since 2008, Jennifer has provided family-centered, patient support while working in Lurie Children's Division of Adolescent Medicine. Jennifer holds a Master of Education degree from DePaul University in addition to a BS (Marketing) and a BA (Theatre) from Miami University. In addition to her work at Lurie Children's, Jennifer has worked on adolescent and children's programming with other nationally recognized organizations, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Old Town School of Folk Music and About Face Youth Theatre.