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John Kane, MD, Founder

John Kane is a founder and Board Member of the Vanguard Research Group. He serves as Senior VP of Behavioral Health Services for Northwell Health and is also Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry at The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. John has been the Principal Investigator on numerous grants from NIMH as well as the pharmaceutical industry. He has authored over 500 publications in peer reviewed journals and has served as President of the Schizophrenia International Research Society, The American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology and The Psychiatric Research Society.

He has also chaired the Food and Drug Administration’s Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee. He received his BA from Cornell University and his MD from the New York University School of Medicine.

He enjoys tennis, squash and skiing.

John is very pleased to be able to participate in a consortium of dedicated clinicians across the U.S. who are eager to develop new treatments and new clinical strategies for helping people with mental illnesses.

Patricia Marcy, Executive Director

Patricia is the Executive Director of the Vanguard Research Group. She has spent the last 8 years of her career working with community mental health clinics across the country. Patricia, “finds it energizing to be able to partner with clinicians in the community on implementing new treatments and improving the care of their patients.”

Patricia started her career at The University of Michigan Hospital and then spent 7 years at Pfizer, Inc. in clinical operations before moving to Northwell Health. Prior to her position in Vanguard, she was the Director, Clinical Research Programs in Psychiatry Research, at Northwell Health. As Director she led the RAISE Early Treatment Program (RAISE ETP) and the Improving Care and Reducing Cost Program (ICRC) which were both successful in recruiting a large number of patients from community clinics across the country. She received her B.S.N. from The University of Michigan. In her spare time she enjoys cooking for friends and family.

Vivianne Dillon, Director Program Operations

Vivianne joined the Vanguard Research Group in 2014. Prior to that, she worked for 2 years at a small CRO, which specialized in managing Infectious Disease studies. However, her main clinical research experience was obtained during 11 years at Pfizer. Vivianne’s role covers a wide range of responsibilities to ensure that trials are conducted under good clinical practice. While she liked working in the lab during the early part of her career, she “wanted to witness a more direct impact of medicinal research on patients, so she moved into the clinical trial space”. In addition, working for VRG, has exposed her to a new therapeutic area, that permits a better understanding of those suffering from serious mental illness.

Vivianne particularly appreciates that the size of the company allows her to wear several different hats. Vivianne received her degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Edinburgh, but has lived in the U.S. in the many years since. When not busying herself with work related matters, she likes to get outside in an effort to improve her limited golf skills. She also exercises considerable restraint in not collecting a whole clowder of cats!

Priya Matneja, Director Program Operations

Priya’s current role is Assistant Director, Program Operations at the Vanguard Research Group. She started her Northwell Health career over 15 years ago, and successfully continues to make contributions to numerous clinical research programs. She felt fortunate after joining VRG, “to discover that the commitment and passion displayed by the leadership inspired her to redouble her efforts to bring new treatments to those suffering from mental health issues”. Her experience, first as a coordinator, and then as a program manager, has exposed her to all aspects of clinical trials and allows her to work closely with sponsors and community mental health clinics.

Priya received her BA in Psychology from Queens College, and is currently working toward a Master’s Degree in Psychology as well. In her spare time, Priya enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and travelling.

Cristina Gomes Gonzalez , Director Program Operations

Cristina is currently an assistant directors of Program Operations for the Vanguard Research Group. She started her career at the Center of Neuropsychiatry Outcomes and Rehabilitation Research (CENORR) back in 1997 as a research assistant. Prior to her position in Vanguard, she was a senior Supervising Research coordinator at Northwell Health. This combined experience has provided her with invaluable knowledge leading to the successful management of cross-functional teams to drive timely and effective execution of complex clinical research trials. Cristina “finds fulfillment in her work which involves many different types of mental health providers scattered across the country, by helping them conduct research. The common aim is to improve the lives of patients with mental health conditions”.
Cristina received her B.A from Long Island University CW Post and completed her Master’s coursework in clinical neuropsychological from Drexel University. In her spare time she enjoys working on puzzles and spending time with family and friends.

Marta Hauser, Director, Outreach

Marta is the Director of Outreach for the Vanguard Research Group. She has 13 years of research experience in diverse roles. Marta “finds it exciting to create opportunities for sites and sponsors by expending the Vanguard Research Group site network and connecting sites and sponsors in their effort to improve patient care”.
Marta is a licensed psychologist and received her PhD from the Charité Medical University, Berlin, Germany. Prior to her current role, Marta held positions in the research and clinical departments of two large health systems and practiced psychotherapy in faculty practice. Marta loves to spend her spare time with outdoor activities.

Angelo Pellicone, Sr. Administrative Director

Angelo Pellicone has been the Senior Administrative Director at the Vanguard Research Group (VRG) since 2017. He has been employed at Northwell Health since 1995. Angelo enjoys the challenging work at VRG because “we can help an identified patient population participate in clinical trials, which may not have otherwise had the opportunity”.

Prior to his current position at VRG, he was the Human Resources Business Partner for the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. He has held various positions within Corporate Human Resources and Northwell Health’s Corporate University, the Center for Learning and Innovation as well. Angelo is a Certified Master Black Belt and has led numerous Six Sigma and Lean projects. He has received a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a BA in Psychology. Angelo enjoys all outdoor and athletic activities.


Joseph Interlandi, Administrative Manager

Joe has been the Administrative Manager at VRG since its creation in 2014. Prior to that Joe worked in Northwell’s Psych Research Dept in a similar role. In his career, he has held various Finance positions with Starbucks, Avis, Computer Associates, and Ballen Isles Country Club. Joe provides a lot of Finance and Administrative work for VRG. He “enjoys working within a small team environment in a supportive role for all VRG staff”.
He received his B.S. in Business Administration Finance from Dowling College in 1997. In his spare time, Joe is an avid hockey fan and enjoys playing in competitive leagues.

Benley J George, Senior Program Manager

Benley is the Program Manager at Vanguard Research Group. As a Program Manager, Benley plays an important cross functional role on the study implementation team to ensure continued program success in Schizophrenia multi-site trials at VRG. He directs, and provides leadership to effectuate the timely launch and execution of new and current clinical trials. He has spent the last 12 years of his career working in various healthcare and clinical research roles across the country. Benley “finds it rewarding being involved in clinical research since it plays an important role in discovering new treatments, enhancing medical knowledge and advancing patient care”.

Benley has worked and contributed in Healthcare systems in the Detroit area and across the country, before moving to Northwell Health in 2014. Prior to joining VRG, Benley was part of the clinical research team in the Department of Internal Medicine where he played a key role in PI initiated and Industry sponsored clinical trials for the Division of Gastroenterology. As a clinical researcher, Benley conducted many Endoscopy and IBD trials which saw the innovation, advancement and improvement in health within the community. Benley received his Doctor of Medicine degree and completed his medical training in England. He has also received his Master’s in Health Services Administration from St. Joseph’s Catholic College of Maine. In his spare time, he loves to travel and enjoys playing soccer.

Susan Ray, Program Manager

Susan has been a Program Manager at the Vanguard Research Group since December 2017. She started working in research as an undergraduate and continued to do so while completing her MS in clinical psychology at Florida State University.
She continued her clinical research career and has spent the last 28 years working within various research roles at Northwell Health. Susan finds it extremely satisfying to collaborate with clinicians and other colleagues to provide high quality research opportunities for patients. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities.

May Heltsley, Program Manager

May joined Vanguard Research Group in 2014 after working at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in the Northwell Health organization as a research coordinator. At Vanguard, May splits her time conducting clinical rating assessments on research subjects and supporting clinical sites with study startup procedures. May “finds it intriguing to see the development of an investigative drug or treatment modality during the early processes of a research study”.
May received a B.S. in Psychology from Syracuse University in 2008 and a M.S. in Biomedical Sciences from New York Medical College in 2010. Altogether, she has been within the Northwell family for over 5 years. In her free time, May loves connecting with family and relatives across the globe.

Sylwia Sobolewska, Program Manager

Sylwia started working with the Vanguard Research Group in October 2017; after working at the Center for Liver Diseases within Northwell Health as a Research Coordinator. Within Vanguard, Sylwia supports clinical sites with study startup procedures. Sylwia “understands the importance of the work at VRG because it is here where we get the opportunity to partner with clinicians and provide new and better treatment options and personal care to patients”.
Sylwia received a B.S. in Biology from The University of Scranton in 2014. When she’s not working, she can be found exploring the outdoors, playing with her dog Filip, or shredding the mountains.

Christian Arena, Program Manager

Christian is a Program Manager at Vanguard Research Group. Christian states “his favorite part of working for Vanguard is working with new studies that can make a positive impact on patient’s lives”. Prior to that, he worked as a Regulatory Manager at Clinical Research Alliance, Inc.
Christian received his B.A. in Fine Arts at Adelphi University. In his spare time he enjoys sports and music.

Asra Ali, Program Manager

Asra recently joined the Vanguard Research Group in November 2019. Prior to Vanguard, she was working as a Psychiatry Research Coordinator at the Early Treatment Program at Northwell Health. Asra has worked closely with clinicians and computer scientists alike in developing newer technologies focused on early identification, diagnosis and treatment of Schizophrenia. She has extensive experience working with people with serious mental illnesses and conducting research procedures with them. At Vanguard, Asra supports clinical sites with study startup procedures and implementation. She finds it “rewarding to work in a dynamic and collaborative team to provide exceptional services to all the patients and to refine standard patient care”.

Asra completed her BA in Psychology from Queens College in 2013 and started working at Northwell the same year. She completed her Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Teacher’s College at Columbia University in 2017. Overall, she has been with Northwell for more than 6 years. In her free time, Asra enjoys spending time with friends and family, travelling, or making art (painting and sculpting).

Breanne Porzelt, Site Clinical Research Manager
Breanne has been a Site Clinical Research Manager at the Vanguard Research Group since 2018. Prior to that, she had worked at Northwell Health as a Research Coordinator at the CLL Research and Treatment Program. At Vanguard, Breanne assists with study startup procedures and data management. Breanne finds working at Vanguard rewarding because she knows the clinical trials being conducted will help develop new and effective treatments for those suffering from severe mental illnesses in the future.

Breanne received a B.S. in Exercise Science from University of Delaware in 2012 and an M.S. in Exercise Science from Adelphi University in 2015. She has been part of Northwell Health for almost 4 years. In her spare time, Breanne enjoys traveling and yoga.


Julia Cross, Site Clinical Research Manager
Julia is a Site Clinical Research Manager at the Vanguard Research Group. Prior to joining the team in 2019, Julia has worked as a research coordinator within varying disciplines including the Radiation Medicine department at Northwell Health. Julia finds the work being done by Vanguard to be extremely satisfying because we are laying the groundwork for improved care and more effective treatments for those suffering from mental illness.

Julia received a B.A. in Psychology from Stony Brook University in 2007 and an M.A. in Psychology from the New School for Social Research in 2009. In her free time, Julia enjoys spending time with her family, running, and knitting.


Mark Westlake, Site Clinical Research Manager

Mark recently joined the Vanguard Research Group in July 2019. Prior to Vanguard, he was working as a Research Coordinator for the department of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep at Northwell Health. Mark worked closely with clinicians implementing LAI (long acting injectables) program for patients with Asthma. In addition, Mark has worked on several clinical trials in the areas of not only Asthma, but COPD, Cystic Fibrosis, Critical Care inpatient trials at both North shore and LIJ hospitals, and Sleep trials such as narcolepsy. At Vanguard, Mark supports clinical sites with study startup procedures and implementation. Mark has said that he “appreciates when he gets to interact with naïve research sites and watch them grow through the process and understanding on how to properly conduct clinical trials. Especially since these drugs/devices could be future medications so it is imperative we all learn together to push medicine forward.”

In his free time, Mark enjoys a wide range of sports, activities, and any kind of adventures such as traveling nationally and internationally. Some of these include hockey, baseball, swimming and surfing.  In addition to being active, Mark does enjoy spending quality time with his family, down time at the beach and cooking delicious meals.

Lauren Serrano, Administrative Support Associate
Lauren recently joined the Vanguard Research Group in April 2019. Prior to Vanguard, she was working in a sub-acute rehabilitation setting through Northwell Health. At Vanguard, Lauren works as an Administrative Support Associate where she performs various receptionist and administrative duties; such as creating reports, scheduling meetings, preparing presentation materials, and maintaining department supply/equipment inventory. Lauren is fortunate enough to work with a team like the Vanguard Research Group. “Together, we are striving to make a difference in an individual’s life”.
Lauren received her B.A. in Sociology at Hunter College in 2012. Lauren has been part of the Northwell Health System since August 2011. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys going to the gym, yoga, bike riding and traveling.


Laura Morizio, Psychometrician

Laura joined Vanguard Research Group when it formed in 2014, after working as a Research Coordinator at Northwell Health since 2013. Laura’s curiosity and compassion make her a natural fit for research. As a psychometrician for Vanguard, Laura “enjoys speaking with patients from all over the country in order to better understand their experiences. Laura’s favorite part of working for Vanguard is hearing individual success stories from patients whom she’s interviewed before”.
Laura received her B.S. in Psychology from Fordham University and is currently a third-year doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. In her free time, Laura loves dancing, camping, and live music.