Meet our Staff

The Poison Center is staffed by physicians, pharmacists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurses with advanced training in toxicology. Our staff is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Ruth A. Lawrence, MD, FAAP, FAACT

Ruth1Dr. Ruth A. Lawrence, MD, is a graduate of Antioch College and the University of  Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, is a pedia-trician, clinical toxicologist, and neonatologist. She is Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics  and Gynecology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Medical Director of the Ruth A. Lawernce Poison and Drug Information Center and of the Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Study Center.

She became the Director of the Poison Center at the University of Rochester in 1958 following its founding as the second center in the country in 1954 at the request of the New York State Health Department.  Dr. Charles Lobeck was the first director.   It was the first center to answer calls from the public.

In the 1960’s, with Dr. Robert J. Haggerty, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and former Director of the Boston Poison Center, she wrote on the management of household poisonings.  Plants and herbs are Dr. Lawrence’s special interest in toxicology as well as questions of medications during pregnancy and lactation.

Dr. Lawrence has served on a number of American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) committees including the original committee to establish certifying guidelines for centers.  She served on the Board of Directors for the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology for three terms and was Chair of the Committee on Fellowship during that time.

When the New York State Department of Health established its consulting committee for poison services, she served as its first chair.  She has been a member of the New York State Associa-tion of Poison Centers since its founding and has served as its President twice.

Dr. Lawrence received the Life Time Achievement Award from the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology in September 2002.


John-05Dr. John Benitez is the Managing Director and Associate Medical Director of the Ruth A Lawrence Poison and Drug Information Center.
He is board-certified in Medical Toxicology (American Board of Preventive Medicine), Occupational and Environmental Medicine (American Board of Preventive Medicine), and Emergency Medicine. He has an extensive clinical background in treating acute and chronic poisonings. He has numerous publications in medical toxicology, many presentation at local, regional, national and international forums. He is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Environmental Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Rochester. In addition he serves as a consultant to the Monroe County Health Department Task Force on Bioterrorism, as a bioterrorism consultant to the Finger Lakes Public Health Alliance and the Finger Lakes Office of Surveillance and Epidemiology.



Nancy Warburton
Nancy Warburton
Amy Davis

Nancy and Amy’s responsibilities include providing poison prevention education to a wide array of community groups, schools, social organizations and corporations.  Our Health Educators have many resources available with Poison Prevention information for the public, teachers and anyone who is interested.  Please call us at 585-273-4155 to request information or to schedule a presentation by one of our Educators.  All resources and presentations of the Poison Center are free of charge and are available to any person or organization in our twelve county Finger Lakes Region.

Norma Barton, BS Pharm, CSPI
Sharon Benware, RN, CSPI
Kelly Bopp, RN, SPI
Ellen Bortz, RN, SPI
Cindy Bichler, RN, CSPI
Luanne Dockstader, RPh, CSPI
Susan McFarland, RN, CSPI
Donna Rekkerth, RN, NP, SPI
Gina Rowan, RN, SPI
Kathryn Schlierf, RN, CSPI
Clint Taft, RN, SPI

Sharon Ternullo, PharmD, CSPI, DABAT
Specialists are trained in pharmacology, medicine or nursing and have additional training in poison information.

Sharon Ternullo, PharmD, CSPI, DABAT
       Drug Information Coordinator