Our Team

James A. Litch, MD, DTMH - Executive Director and Chief Research Officer

Dr. Litch is executive director and chief research officer of GAPPS. Dr. Litch’s work in global health began more than 25 years ago and he has lived and worked in a number of settings in Africa and Asia in frontline positions that ranged from medical officer in remote district hospitals, to NGO program director, to senior advisor for the Ministry of Health. He has held scientific and technical positions with GAPPS, PATH, CDC, University of Washington, and Johns Hopkins University/Jhpiego. At GAPPS, Dr. Litch led the Perinatal Interventions Program and served as principle investigator for a number of implementation science activities in Africa and Asia. At PATH, Dr. Litch was the Senior Newborn, Child and Maternal Health Specialist, where he directed a broad portfolio of innovative implementation research, maternal/newborn/child health and technology projects, and was PATH's lead on the USAID BASICS child survival program. At JHPIEGO, he was senior advisor to the flagship USAID Maternal Newborn Health Program and the USAID Training in Reproductive Health Program. He has been a consultant and a reviewer for the WHO, the USAID Maternal Child Survival Program, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other global health organizations. Dr. Litch leads the PTB/LBW Global Technical Working Group, and serves on several international task forces, committees, advisory councils, and journal editorial boards. He is principle investigator and co-investigator to many applied research projects in Asia and Africa related to maternal, newborn health and stillbirth, and teaches in the areas of implementation science, evaluation, metrics and perinatal health.


Courtney Baruch-Gravett, MPH - Program Director

Courtney is a program manager for research initiatives at GAPPS. She has a strong background in basic science research, epidemiology and project management, working in the field of maternal and child health for the past decade. Courtney leads a complex, multi-country research initiative aimed at establishing international research cohorts in pregnant women to elucidate the causes of preterm birth and develop appropriate, novel strategies for prevention. Courtney also manages GAPPS Bioservices, which provides access to a biobank of standardized, high-quality specimens linked to data from diverse populations of pregnant women and their babies to support a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including research on normal and abnormal pregnancies, how pregnancy affects maternal and child health after delivery, and fetal origins of diseases. Courtney has been with GAPPS for eight years, and previously contributed to numerous clinical and implementation research projects focused on maternal and newborn health. Prior to joining GAPPS, Courtney worked as a research scientist at Oregon Health Science University, studying the link between fetal exposure to nicotine and adverse health outcomes later in life. She later worked at Seattle Children’s hospital to characterize viruses associated with childhood cancers. Courtney received an MPH from the University of Washington with a concentration in public health genetics. She holds certificates in public health leadership and project management.


Samantha Ferrell - Biospecimen Manager

Samantha is a Biospecimen Manager at GAPPS. She is passionate about biobanking to further research in the efforts of improving women’s and children’s health. She has a strong skillet in clinical data collection and quality control, kit production and logistics. She is an expert in design and implementation of sample data and production systems. Samantha works with and trains clinical research staff in tissue sampling methodologies, and keeps clinical study operation logistics maintained. She also works with researchers across several projects to ensure scientists have the samples and accompanying clinical data they need to make discoveries. Samantha graduated from the University of Washington with a B.S. in Cellular, Developmental and Molecular Biology.

Ciara Benson - Biospecimen Coordinator

Ciara is a Biospecimen Coordinator at GAPPS. She began her journey with maternal and child health during her undergraduate researching pre-eclampsia at the University of Washington. Ciara works in the GAPPS Biorepository to assist in the management and processing of clinical samples, preparation of specimen collection kits for clinical sites, and maintenance of specimen data. She has a B.S. in Biology from the University of Washington.

Kirsten Senturia, PhD - Qualitative Research Advisor

Dr. Senturia is an applied medical anthropologist with 27 years of experience in community-based implementation science research, program evaluation, training, mentoring, and capacity building. Her collaborative approaches include Participatory Action Research and Community Based Participatory Research. Dr. Senturia has focused on: maternal, newborn and child health, pediatric oral health, medical interpretation, domestic and family violence, LGBTQ health, mental/ psychological/ emotional wellbeing, and reproductive health. She has worked across language and culture with immigrant, refugee and cultural groups from Vietnam, Philippines, China, Somalia, Ethiopia, Latin America, Russia, Eastern Europe, Cote d’Ivoire and others. Dr. Senturia is affiliate faculty at the University of Washington, School of Public Health.

Krystal Perez, MD, MPH - Clinical Advisor

Dr. Perez is a clinical advisor for GAPPS, specializing in neonatal-perinatal health. Krystle has worked on implementation research projects to improve newborn care and health outcomes in Nicaragua and has a special interest in improving newborn health in low resource settings. She is an assistant professor with University of Washington School of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Global Health. She works as a clinical neonatologist at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital. She completed her medical training at the University of North Carolina and obtained her Masters of Public Health from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Steve Brooke, MBA - Senior Advisor for Commercialization

Steve Brooke is a Senior Advisor for Commercialization at GAPPS providing strategic and tactical guidance on public/private product development collaborations, product commercialization strategies, and intellectual property management. He plays an active role in the Born Healthy project and is exploring areas for potential expansion of GAPPS involvement in product development partnerships. Prior to GAPPS, Steve worked at PATH for over 25 years across a broad variety of roles of increasing responsibility from conceptualizing, developing, negotiating, and implementing complex industry partnerships to serving as Deputy Director on a flagship USAID cooperative agreement. Prior to receiving a Master of Business Administration degree in marketing and finance from Northwestern University, he served as marketing manager for a medical products company. He received his undergraduate degree in international business from the University of Washington and has private sector experience in the international distribution of prosthetic and orthotic components.