Our Team

M. Stephen Meyn, MD PhD

Center Director

Dr. Meyn earned his undergraduate degree cum laude at Princeton University and received his MD degree and a PhD in Basic Medical Sciences from New York University. He completed a residency in Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco and then fellowships in Medical Genetics at the National Institutes of Health. He was an Assistant and Associate Professor of Genetics and Pediatrics at Yale University from 1987-1998. In 1998 he was appointed a Professor of Paediatrics and Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto.   He served as the Head of the Program in Genetics and Genome Biology at the Hospital for Sick Children from 2007 to 2013.  In 2017 Dr. Meyn was recruited to UW-Madison where he is the Jan and Kathryn Ver Hagen Professor of Translational Research (Pediatrics) and the inaugural Director of the Center for Human Genomics and Precision Medicine.

Dr. Meyn’s work encompasses the full range of genetics research – from fundamental studies of DNA repair and telomere biology to evaluations of the clinical applications of whole genome sequencing and the ethics of predictive genetic testing. He has served as principal investigator for numerous basic and clinical research studies, funded by agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada).  He has authored over 85 articles, reviews and book chapters and has been a Fulbright Distinguished Senior Scholar.  Dr. Meyn has served on grant review committees for national and international research organizations and was a long-standing member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund. While in Toronto, Dr. Meyn co-led the Hospital for Sick Children’s Cancer Genetics Program and Genome Clinic Project, which pioneered the use of diagnostic and predictive whole genome sequencing in children. His current research focuses on two of the major challenges in genomic medicine: discovering new disease genes and developing high-throughput methods for rapidly identifying pathogenic genomic variants.


April Hall, MSc PhD CGC

Research Genetic Counselor, Clinical Genomics Core

Dr. Hall completed her undergraduate degree at UW-Green Bay in 2005 with a major in Human Biology and Psychology.  She then went on to earn her PhD in Houston, TX at Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Human Genetics with her thesis focusing on discovery of genetic causes of neuropsychiatric disorders.  After completing her PhD, she decided to pursue a more clinical avenue, and received her master’s degree and certification as a genetic counselor from Indiana University’s School of Medicine.  After receiving her genetic counseling degree, she worked as a pediatric genetic counselor at a private hospital in Indianapolis.  In 2015, she moved to Madison and was a pediatric genetic counselor at UW in the Department of Medical Genetics with a focus on general genetics, neuromuscular disorders, and inpatient genetic counseling.  In 2018, she became the research coordinator for the genetic counseling program at UW.  To utilize both her research and clinical genetics backgrounds, April joined the Center for Human Genomics and Precision Medicine as a research genetic counselor in Aug 2018.


Derek Pavelec, PhD

Lead Bioinformatician, Clinical Genomics Core

Dr. Pavelec earned his Bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Biochemistry from Wartburg College.  He subsequently completed a PhD in molecular pharmacology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  During the early days of next-generation sequencing, he developed methods to use the technology to study the molecular mechanism of RNA interference.  He worked as Molecular Geneticist and the Director of Informatics for PreventionGenetics, a major molecular testing laboratory, where he developed clinical tests based on high throughput DNA sequencing platforms.  In 2012, he returned to the University of Wisconsin as a bioinformatician working on human genomic testing for the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene.  Derek was named the director of the UW Bioinformatics Resource Center in 2016 and joined the Center for Human Genomics and Precision Medicine in 2019.


Jacalyn McHugh, MSc

Center Assistant Director

Jackie joined the UW Center for Human Genomics and Precision Medicine as Assistant Director on October 1, 2018. Jackie provides administrative and strategic leadership, programmatic and operational support, and oversee the effective management of the multiple and complex fiscal and human resources needed to fulfill the educational, research, and clinical missions.  She will accomplish this through building partnerships with our internal and external colleagues.

Prior to joining the Center, Jackie served as the Research Operations Manager for the Regenerative Medicine Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA.  There she played an integral role in establishing the research operation infrastructure and managed the grant portfolio for the Institute.  She has conducted research as part of a team using stem cells to elucidate the mechanisms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and to investigate potential treatments for the disease.

This work developed her passion for translating research to treatments and her appreciation for the operational infrastructure needed to support researchers to do their best work. She is grateful for this remarkable opportunity to participate in building a Center that will enable our UW faculty, scientists, and staff to bring genomic science and precision medicine to our community and all Wisconsinites.

Jackie received a Master of Science in Animal Science and a Bachelor of Science in Natural Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She enjoys spending her free time with family and friends and traveling.


Kirsten Martin

Program Assistant Confidential

Kirsten earned her Bachelor of Arts in French and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She worked for the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations) at McGill University in Montreal, QC – in the areas of research communications, events coordination, and grants management – prior to her return to Wisconsin and employment at UW. Kirsten joined us in April 2018. She is the Executive Assistant to the Center Director, Dr. Meyn.


Brooke Villella

Program Associate

Brooke is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Clinical Rehabilitative Counseling with an emphasis on military populations. She is an active member of the Wisconsin National Guard, Headquarters and Headquarters Company 1-147 Aviation and serves as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Specialist. As a primary member of the Center for Human Genomics and Precision Medicine administrative team, Brooke provides direct administrative service and support to the Assistant Director on various projects to develop, implement, and enhance research and education processes and activities in the center. Brooke joined our team in August 2019.