Erin Sweigert

Erin joined the Clinic for Special Children in 2023 as a Research Associate. As the Research Associate, Erin will be supporting a number of CSC’s research endeavors. These projects will provide insights into rare genetic conditions and she will be involved with prospective natural history studies, clinical trials of gene replacement therapies, and the analysis of vital data.

Erin is originally from Lancaster County and attended Lancaster Catholic High School. In 2020, she was exposed to the field of research and began to love the field. Her first research project was analyzing the genome of a Mycobacterium phage by the name of Agape74. This research was published in the National Library of Medicine. While she enjoys research, she is also drawn to patient care. When she found the Clinic for Special Children, she liked the balance of research and patient interaction and knew it would be the perfect fit for her.

In her spare time, Erin enjoys spending time outside, going to the beach, reading, and spending time with family and friends. She also enjoys looking at art and visiting art museums.

Why are you passionate about the Clinic?
I am passionate about the clinic because when searching for a job I came across the Clinic and its mission to serve the Plain Community. I grew up in Lancaster so I have always been surrounded by the Plain Community. This job stood out to me and drew me in because I knew that my work would be helping the Plain community and I could directly see the impact it had. When I graduated college, I was unsure of what I wanted to do specifically with my degree. However, I was sure that I wanted to work in the research field and help individuals as much as I could. After meeting the staff at the Clinic for Special Children I determined that this would be the perfect fit for me!

Erin’s Credentials


  • 2023 La Salle University, Bachelor of Science in Biology

Published Papers

To view Erin’s peer-reviewed published papers, please visit our Published Papers page HERE.

Joelle Williamson Clark, MPH

Joelle Williamson Clark, MPH, joined the Clinic for Special Children in June 2023 as the Clinical Research Manager. As the Clinical Research Manager, Joelle is responsible for leading a variety of tasks within research including regulatory submissions and compliance, and study coordination. Joelle also aids in the communication and outreach with patients and families involved in research.

Prior to joining the Clinic, Joelle worked for Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, and the University of Pennsylvania as a research coordinator and project manager. She has ample experience in cardiology, infectious disease, hematology, urology, oncology, and neurogenetics.

In her free time, Joelle appreciates staying active outdoors hiking, biking, running, and swimming. She enjoys exploring new locations with her husband and their dog Jarvis as well as gardening and baking.


Why are you passionate about the Clinic?

I am passionate about the Clinic because I see how it serves people. Ever since my first encounter with the Clinic in 2013, I have had a heart for this wonderful team and the community that it serves. It continues to amaze me the people that have been seen and treated in this facility and the care that is provided. Serving the Plain community is such a privilege and joy and I hope to continue to grow from working alongside the patients, their families, and the Clinic professionals.

Joelle’s Credentials


  • 2023  Pennsylvania State University, Master of Public Health
  • 2018  Messiah University, Bachelor of Science

Professional Experience

  • Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, Research Assistant
  • Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, Research Coordinator
  • University of Pennsylvania, Research Coordinator B
  • University of Pennsylvania, Project Manager

Published Papers

To view Joelle’s peer-reviewed published papers, please visit our Published Papers page HERE.

Karlla W. Brigatti, MS, CGC

Karlla W. Brigatti, MS, CGC, joined the Clinic for Special Children as its first genetic counselor in 2014, bringing extensive experience in clinical genetics and research from across the lifespan. In 2018, she was promoted to Research Operations Director.

As the Research Operations Director, Karlla is responsible for managing and coordinating research projects at the Clinic and interfacing with collaborators. She works with the Clinic team to generate research protocols, ensures proper collection of data and samples, and coordinates with Institutional Research Boards (IRB) to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. She is also a member of the Clinic’s leadership team.

Karlla has authored over 50 lay and scientific publications, mentored undergraduate, graduate, and medical students, given over 25 lectures, and served on the Human Genetics Faculty at Sarah Lawrence College and the Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling program at Jefferson College of Biomedical Sciences. Her research interests include gene discovery, implementation of personalized medicine, and rare disease advocacy.

Why are you passionate about the Clinic?

I feel this experience has enriched and prepared me for my work at the Clinic for Special Children. I promote the partnership between clinical care and innovative research to improve the lives of those with genetic conditions. That trust and mutual investment with the community is a key element to the Clinic’s longtime success in advancing Genomic Medicine, and I’m proud to be a part of the Clinic team.


Karlla’s Credentials


  • Fluent in Portuguese and English; Proficient in Italian and Spanish
  • Rare Disease Scholars program, National Center for Advancing Translational Science/NIH
  • ABGC Certified/Licensed genetic counselor, Pennsylvania
  • 1998  Sarah Lawrence College, Master of Science in Human Genetics
  • 1994  University of Pittsburgh, Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology

Professional Experience

  • Graduate Adjunct Professor, Jefferson College of Biomedical Sciences, Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling Program
  • Senior Genetic Counselor in Clinical Genetics, Pediatric Oncology, and Neurology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
  • Clinical Research Associate, Friedreich Ataxia Program, at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
  • Clinical Care Coordinator, Research Associate, and Genetic Counselor, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center
  • Faculty Instructor, Issues in Genetic Counselor IV, Sarah Lawrence College in Human Genetics Program
  • Genetic Counselor, Prenatal and Pediatric Genetics, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center

Professional Associations

  • Pennsylvania Newborn Screening Technical Advisory Task Force
  • Scientific Advisory Board, DDX3X Foundation
  • Board of Directors, CROWN Foundation
  • SMA Clinical Care Advisory Board, AveXis/Novartis Gene Tx
  • SMA Genetics Advisory Board, Novartis Tx
  • National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Abstract Committee


  • 2020  Rare Impact Award, National Organization for Rare Disorders
  • 2016  CodeTalker nominee for Outstanding Genetic Counselor, Genome Magazine
  • 1998  Founding member, Joan H. Marks Award in Genetic Counseling

Published Papers

To view Karlla’s peer reviewed published papers, please visit our Published Papers page HERE.