Meet Our Clinical Trial Staff

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Samantha Bonant, MS, CCRP

Regulatory Lead

Samantha received her Master’s Degree in Biochemistry from Duquesne University, where her research focused on Fragile X Syndrome.  After graduate school, she worked as a Lab Manager at the University of Pittsburgh doing research for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.  Samantha began her clinical research career at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute as a Regulatory specialist, and later became the supervisor for regulatory affairs.  Samantha joined VRFP’s Clinical Trials Center in June of 2012 as a regulatory coordinator and in January of 2015 transitioned to the role of Lead Regulatory Coordinator

Jennifer Carrick

Jennifer Carrick, RN, MS, CCRC

Lead Clinical Research Nurse

Jennifer has been with the CTC since July of 2009. She has been working in clinical research for over 10 years and has coordinated hundreds of trials across all specialties.  She received her Master’s degree from Old Dominion University with a certificate in Health Care Administration and has been a Registered Nurse for 20 years.  Jennifer has contributed to many publications and has also served as a co-investigator.  She is passionate about providing our nation’s heroes with new cutting edge treatments that may not otherwise be available to them.

Karen Gilbert

Karen Gilbert

Clinical Research Coordinator

Karen has over 20 years’ experience as a Pharmacy Technician.  Karen transitioned to the role of Clinical Coordinator within the Clinical Trials Center in 2015 after working as the VA Pittsburgh’s Investigational drug service Pharmacy Technician since 2008.  Her previous experience in the Pharmacy field includes both retail and hospital pharmacy.

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Karen Smith

Clinical Research Assistant

Karen joined the CTC in 2014 and comes to us with 35 years in the medical profession. Prior to joining our team she worked as a research coordinator for 10 years in all areas of adult and pediatric research.

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Shirley Podnar, PharmD


Shirley has served as the Investigational Drug Service Pharmacist since its inception in 2008. Prior to this, she worked as a clinical pharmacist who managed the investigational drug studies for UPMC Magee Women’s Hospital and UPMC Presbyterian Hospital.


Meghan Tamburino, CPHT

Research Pharmacy Technician

Megan has  been a Pharmacy Technician for 12 years with experience in retail, home infusion, and hospital pharmacies. Megan started her  career at the VA in 2015 and is honored to serve our nations veterans.