Skip to main content

NCI-CONNECT Staff

The NCI-CONNECT team is dedicated to helping those with rare central nervous system (CNS) tumors within the NCI Center for Cancer Research Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB).

Co-Leaders


Terri Armstrong, Ph.D.

Co-Lead, NCI-CONNECT

Deputy Chief, NOB 

Dr. Armstrong co-leads all aspects of NCI-CONNECT and, specifically, leads its patient risk and outcomes project. The project is an online survey that looks at the impact a rare CNS tumor diagnosis and treatment has on patients and their families and explores potential clinical and genomic risk factors.

Mark Gilbert, M.D.

Co-Lead, NCI-CONNECT

Chief, NOB

Dr. Gilbert co-leads all aspects of NCI-CONNECT and, specifically, serves as the protocol principal investigator for its clinical trials. Dr. Gilbert directs the Brain Tumor Trials Collaborative (BTTC), a network of renowned medical centers throughout the United States that provide clinical trials to patients with rare CNS tumors.


Clinical Staff

Alvina Acquaye

Research Associate

Alvina manages the patient outcomes studies and provides wellness practices to patients. These include strategies to help patients cope with the mental, physical and emotional challenges faced during diagnosis. 

Sonja Crandon

Research Nurse Specialist

Sonja enrolls and manages patients on non-treatment clinical studies, such as the Natural History Study, which gives researchers a better understanding of brain and spinal cord tumors and uncovers areas for further research.

Marta Penas-Prado, M.D.

Associate Research Physician

Dr. Penas-Prado provides clinical care to patients with rare CNS tumors and serves as principal investigator on therapeutic clinical trials. She evaluates patients’ physical well-being and provides diagnosis, symptom and treatment information. Dr. Penas-Prado provides patients with a comprehensive plan that, together with their physician at home, will ensure they get the best treatment possible. 

Margarita Raygada, Ph.D.

Oncology Genetic Counselor and Geneticist 

Dr. Raygada provides genetic counseling and testing to patients, evaluates family and medical history to help determine if patients and their families are at risk for developing specific cancers or hereditary cancer syndromes, and discusses management plans for cancer screening, prevention, and risk-reduction.

Christine Siegel

Nurse Practitioner

Christine provides clinical care to patients with rare CNS tumors. She evaluates patients and collaborates with the treating physician to evaluate their physical well-being, as well as inform them about their diagnosis, symptoms and treatments.

Kristen Stevens-Brown

Patient Coordinator 

Kristen coordinates the intake process for patients, including scheduling appointments, coordinating travel and gathering all necessary information from the patient to visit the NIH, and then provides visit information.

Kathleen Wall

Clinical Research Nurse

Kathleen manages patient participation on clinical trials, including assessing if patients are eligible and registering patients for clinical trials.


Program Staff

Katie Blackburn

Business Manager

Katie manages the BTTC clinical trial operations, budgets, and agreements. She also plans meetings, data management, clinical monitoring and payment processing for BTTC centers.

Brittany Cordeiro

Advocacy Liaison and Navigator

Brittany facilitates partnerships with non-profit organizations who share a common concern for improving the outcomes of patients with rare CNS tumors through awareness and education. She also provides referral information and education materials to providers, advocates, patients and their families.

Kathleen Mercure

Program Manager

Kathleen oversees programmatic operations, including planning workshops and meetings, managing budgets and information, and aiding leadership to achieve project success.

Kristin Odom

Communications Editor

Kristin manages communication projects, strategies and initiatives, such as the website, newsletter, social media, and other online and print materials, to educate and inform patients, providers, researchers and advocates.


NCI-CONNECT welcomes your questions.

Contact us:

NCICONNECT@mail.nih.gov or call 240-760-6530

  • Posted: