Our leadership

This is our team: a lot of hard-working people reaching new heights in clinical research.

CenExel Clinical Research

Tom Wardle

Tom Wardle

Chief Executive Officer

Tom has a diverse background with 30+ years of progressive responsibility in pharmaceutical R&D and healthcare. He is the CEO and member of the Board of Directors of CenExel Clinical Research, the premier network of clinical research sites with expertise in Analgesia, Psychiatry, Neurology, Early Phase patient populations and Japanese bridging studies. Tom was previously the CEO of eStudySite, a leading network of clinical research sites in Infectious Disease pharmaceutical drug development.

Tom was the Chief Operating Officer of Worldwide Clinical Trials (WCT), a full service, phase I-IV global contract research organization with operations in more than 40 countries. At its founding, Tom was instrumental in identifying and evaluating acquisition targets, leading to five CRO acquisitions, followed by aggressive and successful integration in to a single platform. Subsequently, the company grew organically from 400 employees to more 1,400 employees.

From 1997 to 2007, Tom held executive management positions at two other global contract research organizations, which are now part of Syneos Health.

From 1988 to 1997 Tom was the Operations Manager at California Clinical Trials, one of the largest Phase I–III investigational sites which specialized in sophisticated clinical pharmacology studies of CNS medications. He also had management oversight of International Clinical Trials in London, England. Tom has an undergraduate degree in Exercise Physiology from BYU, a Master of Science in Kinesiology from UCLA and a Master of Business Administration (Finance) from Rutgers University.

Rob Marohn

Rob Marohn

Chief Information Officer

Rob has worked in the pharmaceutical and clinical research industry for over 25 years in a variety of positions. From 2018 to 2021, he was the Director of Quality Engineering at KitePharma, a Gilead company and a front-runner in cell and gene therapy. He was QE lead on the implementation of the organization’s major quality business applications. In addition, he was the QE lead in the implementation of the organization’s research manufacturing facility and served as point contact for IT system compliance at numerous health authority inspections for Kite’s commercial and clinical divisions.

Prior to this, he was the Chief Information Officer of Worldwide Clinical Trials, a premier global clinical research organization, for eight years where he was responsible for building the company’s information systems platform at all levels. In addition, he has worked in Clarkston Consulting’s Life Science Group as a Senior Consultant for a wide variety of pharmaceutical and life science companies. Before this, Rob was the Vice President of a clinical research division of United Healthcare and Director of IT for a clinical research organization based in Atlanta. Rob has a Master’s of Science in the Management of Technology from Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master’s of Science in Information Systems & Technology from Claremont Graduate University. He has expertise on the matter of data integrity in the pharmaceutical industry and has spoken on the subject at industry conferences including publishing several articles on the topic.

Todd Orullian

Todd Orullian

Chief Financial Officer

Todd Orullian serves as the Cenexel Chief Financial Officer. He is a strong senior executive with many years of finance, accounting, and operational experience. Todd is a highly self-motivated individual with a proven track record of success and exceptional performance in corporate strategy and execution. He is a results-oriented professional with a strong work ethic.

Todd has spent the last 20+ years as a CFO primarily with companies providing services to the healthcare industry. These companies include Nelson Laboratories, AAPC, The MGIS Companies, and Professional Staff Management, Inc. His problem-solving abilities have helped companies overcome growth challenges, improve business operations, and enhance profitability. He has an extensive background in mergers & acquisitions and in leading all aspects of finance for many organizations. Before joining the corporate world, Todd was an audit manager for the international public accounting firm of Ernst & Young where he worked with many pre-eminent clients of the firm.

Born in Salt Lake City, Todd attended the University of Utah, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, graduated Summa cum laude and was selected as the Outstanding Scholar of the School of Accounting. He then obtained his MBA from the University of Utah where he was the Dean’s Scholar and recipient of the UACPA Outstanding Graduate Student award. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Casey Orvin

Casey Orvin

Chief Commercial Officer

Casey has a long and exemplary career history in pharmaceutical research services. Most recently, he was serving as the Senior VP of Pharmaceutical Relationships at StudyKik, a full-service patient recruitment and retention technology company. Casey is also serving as the Honorary President of the Society for Clinical Research Sites (SCRS), a global organization representing nearly 10,000 clinical research sites in 47 countries within the pharmaceutical industry.

Casey began his career leading a large pharmaceutical research site network, Research Solutions. In 2007, he was recruited to join Clinical Research Advantage/Radiant as Executive Vice President of Business Development and successfully led a network of over 75 research sites conducting clinical trials for pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and medical devices. Under Casey’s leadership, several crucial partnerships were formed with major pharmaceutical companies which fueled the company’s rapid growth both geographically and within the medical community. Casey facilitated the acquisition of two competitors securing the company’s spot as what was at the time the largest clinical research site network in the US. In 2015, Casey and the executive team at Radiant merged with Synexus, a division of PPD. With Casey’s guidance, Synexus continued to expand to 215 global clinical sites in 4 continents and over 15 countries.

Casey is passionate about representing the site voice within the industry while ensuring every research patient’s journey is a positive one. As a thought leader in the industry, Casey is regularly invited to be a keynote speaker and panelist and is often quoted by the leading publications covering the clinical research landscape. In 2020, he was recognized in PharmaVoice as one of the 100 Most Inspiring People in the industry.

Casey leads the business development efforts for CenExel, now the U.S. leader of independent clinical research sites.

Mark Trimble

Mark Trimble, SPHR

VP, Human Resources & Administration

Mark is a Human Resources Executive with 20+ years of experience in HR operations and management. Throughout his career he has provided leadership and guidance in the conceptualization, implementation, and management of HR strategies, organizations, programs, and policies. Mark has held several corporate HR leadership positions within the HR outsourcing, life sciences, and healthcare industries.

In his most recent role, prior to joining CenExel, Mark held the position of Regional Vice President of HR Operations for Oasis Outsourcing, a global leader in the Professional Employer Organization industry. In this position, Mark drove positive change through day-to-day operational and financial leadership and competitively evolved HR service offerings for clients in the healthcare and manufacturing industries.

As an HR executive with a strong business acumen, Mark has successfully implemented people-based solutions and the HR function to ensure achievement of corporate business goals. As both an HR strategist and hands-on practitioner, Mark’s areas of expertise include culture alignment and change management, employment law and regulatory compliance, compensation planning, team building, business process and policy formation, talent engagement, and HR consulting.

Mark holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from BYU and is also certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).

Jim Volpe

Jim Volpe

VP, Operations

Jim is an entrepreneurial, innovative business leader with 20+ years of multifaceted and progressively responsible expertise in driving large-scale, visionary business transformations and integrations within pharmaceutical, financial services, and manufacturing industries. As a global project manager, he offers a blended background in operations and continuous improvement. In addition, he has a demonstrated track record of success in leveraging his MBA and GE leadership training with skills in engineering, Six Sigma, and data analytics to drive strategic cost containment, informed decision making, measurable process improvements, positive organizational change, and operational excellence.

Andrew Birschbach

Andrew Birschbach

Director, Corporate Development

Andrew is a strategic finance professional with experience spanning Fortune 10 public companies to growth-stage, private-equity-backed businesses. His experience includes mergers and acquisitions, business development, operational financial modeling, budgeting, and analysis. Most recently, he was a manager of finance at Alignment Healthcare, an innovative, information-enabled Medicare Advantage company where he provided detailed operational modeling, forecast scenario analysis, analysis for new market expansion, and M&A opportunity evaluation. Prior to Alignment, he was a mergers and acquisitions Senior Associate at UnitedHealth Group’s Corporate Development & Strategy Team.

Dave Blackmer

Dave Blackmer

Director, Marketing

Dave has over a decade of experience in healthcare marketing and operations. His professional expertise includes website development, email campaigns, digital and traditional advertising, copywriting and editing, public relations, statistical analysis, demographic research, graphic design, events management, internal communication, SEO, and social media. He is driven by data and results, optimizing efforts based on input from all available tools and unified endeavors from the team he leads.

Dave has published and collaborated on dozens of industry articles and is a frequent speaker at healthcare, marketing, and tech conferences around the country. He earned a master’s degree in strategic communication from Westminster College.

Hollie DeSmet

Hollie DeSmet

Director, Regulatory & Quality

Hollie began her clinical research career more than 10 years ago as a Study Coordinator working on analgesic clinical trials. She joined the CenExel JBR team in 2014 and has held many positions including Quality Assurance / Regulatory Manager and Director of Quality and Compliance.

In June 2019, Hollie joined the CenExel Standard Operating Procedure Committee working closely with representatives from each Center of Excellence to successfully develop and implement CenExel Standard Operating Procedures and Working Practices. Hollie continues to oversee CenExel site integration of Standard Operating Procedures and Working Practices, including consistent training practices, and best regulatory practices as CenExel Director of Regulatory and Quality.

Faye Mitchell

Faye Mitchell

Director, Patient Recruitment

Faye is an experienced customer service and operations leader with over 15 years of experience in pharmaceutical and biotech contact center operations. Innovative and results-driven, Faye’s passion is designing, implementing, and continually enhancing best-in-class contact center programs while being passionate about healthcare and the patient experience.

Prior to joining CenExel, Faye gained extensive experience implementing HCP and patient support initiatives in the medical information, commercial, and clinical divisions within Ashfield Healthcare. Most recently, Faye has successfully standardized and centralized global contact center operations to support clinical trials at a global recruitment company with over 50 therapeutic indications and 160 sites.

As the Corporate Director of Patient Recruitment at CenExel, Faye’s leadership blends industry best practices, subject matter expertise, technological innovation, and a sense of relentless determination to design and enact the ultimate patient recruitment experience.

Faye has a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Studies from Temple University. She is an active Project Management Professional.

Judy-Montero

Judy Montero, PsyD

Director, Clinical Assessments

Dr. Montero has a doctorate degree in clinical psychology with concentration in neuropsychology. Prior to entering the pharmaceutical industry in 2002, she worked in a multidisciplinary clinical setting providing psychological services and conducting neuropsychological assessments to heterogeneous populations, including assisting with the diagnosis, development, and implementation of behavioral interventions for children and adults with various disorders.

Judy started in this industry working as a rater and sub-investigator for a large South Florida network of research sites. Over nearly a decade, she participated in numerous clinical trials, developed inter-rater reliability programs and supervised the rater team. This on-site experience was invaluable in her role as a Lead Clinical Scientist with Syneos Health’s Clinical Surveillance & Training group.

During the 10 years working for this large Contract Research Organization, Judy developed rater training and data monitoring programs to ensure quality efficacy outcomes for psychiatric and neurologic studies in multiple indications, including Parkinson’s disease, Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and mood disorders. Dr. Montero is fully bilingual in English and Spanish with extensive experience administering clinical assessments and conducting training presentations in both languages.

Centers of Excellence

CenExel ACMR

Sarah Kazmi MD

Sarah Kazmi, MD

VP & General Manager

Dr. Kazmi brings 15+ years of extensive experience in Phase I-IV clinical trials spanning many therapeutic areas. She has a strong leadership background and a proven track record of managing large clinical research sites.

Dr Robert Riesenberg

Robert Riesenberg, MD

Founder & Principal Investigator

Dr. Riesenberg is a research psychiatrist with four decades of experience. His primary focus is on CNS, PK, Healthy Normal, and Child/Adolescent disorders. Dr. Riesenberg has been the Principal Investigator in over 600 studies.

Dr. Riesenberg earned a bachelor’s degree in both Zoology and Psychology from Memphis State University in 1972. In 1975, he earned his MD from the University of Tennessee. He is licensed to practice in Georgia.

CenExel ACT

Patrick McLaughlin

Patrick McLaughlin

CEO

Patrick McLaughlin graduated with a degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas-Austin in 1999. Patrick’s entry into the Clinical Research space was in 1996, when he was recruited to a full-service multi-specialty dedicated research site, as President. Three years into the position at the Institute of Clinical Research (ICR), sales were up 600% and the ownership group desired to sell the company.

In March of 1999, Patrick was the principal negotiator in arranging a deal that sold ICR to Protocare, a Site Management Organization. Protocare named ICR as one of their premier sites in Centerwatch and one in which other Protocare sites would be modeled after. Shortly after the sale, Protocare was acquired by Radiant Research and ICR to this day is one of Radiant’s leading sites nearly 23 years after its acquisition.

In May of 1999, Patrick started working at Advanced Clinical Research Institute in Anaheim, CA as its Executive Director. Exclusively conducting Phase 2-4 studies for its entire history Patrick made a decision for the company to enter the Phase I sector. Dr. Dennis Riff and Patrick McLaughlin funded the purchase of an 8,800 square foot dedicated Phase I facility in 2007, and re-branded the company as Anaheim Clinical Trials.

Through years of continued success and the need for additional investment in order to move the company to the next level and to a much larger state-of-the-art research facility, a decision was made to bring on an additional investment partner which was completed in February 2019.

CenExel CBH

Dr. Robert Litman

Robert E. Litman, MD

Medical Director & Principal Investigator

Robert E. Litman, M.D., is the Medical Director and Principal Investigator for all clinical trials at CenExel CBH. He developed his interest in the treatment of schizophrenia at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he completed his residency in Psychiatry. Shortly thereafter, he joined the Experimental Therapeutics Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, as a Senior Staff Fellow remaining at NIH until 1995, where he continued to pursue his interest in schizophrenia, including investigating the effects of atypical neuroleptics biological and genetic markers in schizophrenia, as well as the development of better combination therapies for schizophrenia using the alpha-2 antagonist idazoxan. After leaving the NIH, he formed his own clinical trials research organization, first in conjunction with area hospitals, and then as a free-standing inpatient and outpatient clinical research organization now known as CenExel CBH. Since then he has conducted over 300 Phase I-IV clinical trials and has participated in many of the important advances in pharmacotherapy of schizophrenia and other brain disorders.

Dr. Litman has an extensive background in psychopharmacology, the evaluation and treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar, major depression, anxiety, and Alzheimer disease. He serves as a consultant in psychopharmacology to many area hospitals and group practices, has over 30 academic publications, and frequently speaks about new advances in the field of psychopharmacology, and on the current issues regarding drug development for psychiatric illness. He is currently an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, (where he teaches and trains Psychiatry residents) and a Fellow and Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and Diplomate, Added Qualifications in Geriatric Psychiatry.

CenExel CIT

Debra Hoffmeyer

Debra Hoffmeyer, MA, CCMA

CEO

Debra began her career in biotechnology, and has since held every position from patient recruiter and clinical research technician to rater and CEO of CenExel CIT. Debra holds certification in clinical research and is a member of the Society of Clinical Research Associates, the CNS Summit, National Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit (NCDEU) of the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Association of Clinical Research Professionals. She serves on the Finance Committee and Working Groups for Suicidal Thinking and Behavior Assessment and Signal Detection of the International Society for CNS Clinical Trials and Methodology (ISCTM). As CEO, Debra focuses her time on business development and attending conferences on the latest advancements in research and development.

CenExel JBR

Todd Bertoch, MD

Todd Bertoch, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Todd Bertoch is board-certified in Anesthesiology by the American Board of Anesthesiology. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biochemistry from California State University at Fullerton and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. After an internship in Internal Medicine, he completed his Anesthesiology residency at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where he was Chief Resident and received the Arthur B. Tarrow Outstanding Resident Award. He is a member of the esteemed Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

Dr. Bertoch served as an anesthesiologist in the United States Air Force until 2006. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Dr. Bertoch was deployed to Mindanao in the southern Philippines and later to Balad Air Base in Iraq in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is a recipient of the Air Force Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

After completing his military service, Dr. Bertoch served for 11 years as the managing partner of Prescott Anesthesia in Prescott, Arizona where his practice included a focus on chronic pain management and addiction medicine. He joined CenExel JBR as Chief Scientific Officer in 2017. He also chairs the CenExel Analgesic Advisory Board.

CenExel RCA

Peter Ventre

Peter Ventre, MD

President & Founder

Within the research community, Dr. Peter Ventre has built a strong reputation over the years as being a diligent and insightful investigator. With experience in more than 125 clinical trials, he ensures excellent patient care and thorough involvement in the research process.

Dr. Ventre is board certified in psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Science from the University of Puerto Rico and continued his medical studies at San Juan Bautista School of Medicine in Caguas, Puerto Rico. He earned his medical degree from the Universidad Iberoamericana, Santo Domingo and completed residencies at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Cabrini Medical Center for Internal Medicine and Psychiatry. He then completed his psychiatry residency at the University of Florida Psychiatry Program.

In addition to being a principal investigator at CenExel RCA, Dr. Ventre is the owner of one of Broward County’s largest group practices, Ventre Medical Associates (VMA). VMA provides a quality referral source for potential CenExel RCA research subjects. VMA is also contracted with Broward Health, Broward County’s largest hospital system, to provide all psychiatric services for two of their largest hospitals: Broward Health Medical Center and Broward Health Imperial Point. Dr. Ventre serves as Chief of Psychiatry at Broward Health Medical Center.

Howard Schwartz

Howard Schwartz, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Howard Schwartz is the Chief Medical Officer for CenExel RCA and serves as Principal Investigator on vaccine and phase I trials, as well as a sub-investigator on most other trials. He has been involved with over 1,000 trials in multiple therapeutic areas and attributes his success to combining a well-trained research staff with a skilled investigator and motivated trial participant. Throughout his career, he has always led with integrity and made sure all members of the team are well trained on GCP and study-specific requirements.

Dr. Schwartz is board certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology and practiced in South Florida for over 30 years. He is now focusing on making CenExel RCA the premier research site in South Florida. He has lectured and published extensively on many of the clinical trials in which he has participated. Additionally, he served as an industry consultant and on numerous data safety management boards.

Dr. Schwartz was born in Philadelphia, but moved to Florida to attend college and never went home. He is a graduate of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine where he also completed his internal medicine residency and Gastroenterology Fellowship. He is married with three children. He is an avid sports fan, golfer, and boater.

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