Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Nicole Osborn founded Meridian Clinical Research in 1999 in Omaha, NE. Under her guidance, Meridian grew from a single dedicated research center in Omaha, NE, to a network that includes more than 35 research sites and 90 principal investigators across North America.
Under Osborn’s direction, research at Meridian is frequently published in academic journals and presented at major scientific and academic events worldwide. In recent years, Osborn has expanded Meridian's therapeutic capabilities in areas such as infectious disease, neurology, dermatology, and women's health to facilitate more complex trials for novel drugs and medical devices. She led Meridian's acquisitions of Regional Clinical Research (2019) and Sterling Research Group (2021) to expand the company's reach to four research sites in New York and three sites in Ohio.
In 2020, Osborn guided Meridian as it began conducting COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials for Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Janssen, and others. With Osborn's oversight, Meridian principal investigators joined weekly meetings with vaccine developers participating in the Operation Warp Speed (OWS) program and collaborating with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). In July 2020, OWS leaders visited Meridian's internal medicine site in Savannah, GA. The following October, officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) held a roundtable with Osborn and Meridian leaders in Savannah to discuss patient recruitment efforts for COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. That same month, Meridian earned the 2020 Vaccine Industry Excellence (ViE) awards for Best Clinical Trial Site and Best Clinical Trial Network.
Osborn has been appointed to the Society for Clinical Research Sites (SCRS) leadership council, for which she provides strategic guidance, policy decisions, and oversight.
She is involved in numerous charitable organizations focused on researching and treating diseases. Osborn attended the University of Iowa and earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing from Clarkson College.
Laura Falcone, APRN
As President, Laura Falcone directs operations at all Meridian sites across North America. An advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), Falcone brings years of firsthand clinical experience to her executive role at Meridian. She established Meridian’s excellence in patient-centric research conduct and remains heavily-involved in day-to-day clinical operations, occasionally serving as sub-investigator for trials.
In 2020, Falcone oversaw Meridian's operations as the company more than doubled its clinical and operational staff companywide. To accommodate high-volume trials and spikes in COVID-19 vaccine trial interest, Falcone directed Meridian's implementation of a traveling oversight team, increased staffing, seven-day-a-week clinic hours, and other strategic projects to scale operations.
In 2012, Falcone was named Study Nurse of the Year at the PharmaTimes U.S. Clinical Researcher of the Year competition. Before joining Meridian, Falcone was a nurse at the Methodist Health System. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and biology from the University of Virginia; a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Creighton University; a Master of Science in adult acute care and a Post-Master's Certificate in family practice nursing from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Dave Roehr brings more than three decades of experience in banking, finance, and strategic growth to his role at Meridian. Before joining Meridian, he founded Proceed Finance. Roehr was also president and chief financial officer of Cabela’s Inc., guiding the company through a time of unprecedented sales growth and retail expansion, rocketing the company past the $1 billion valuation mark.
In his role at Cabela’s, Roehr also served as founder, chairman of the board, and CEO of World’s Foremost Bank, a wholly-owned regulated credit card bank used by Cabela’s. He was also a partner at tax consultancy Grant Thornton LLP, where he leveraged his certified public accountant (CPA) and Masters of Taxation credentials within their public accounting business practice, contributing to revenue growth of over $150 million and expansion into almost 70 countries.
Aside from his career leadership roles, Roehr is also a member on various boards of directors, with current and past board memberships at organizations including Buckle, Air Methods, Regional Board of Directors for US Bank, and Security First Bank.
Kathy Stoddard RN, CCRC
Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Kathy Stoddard has substantial experience in managing multi-site research trials and providing support for business development, contracts, budgets, staffing, and operating procedures. As COO for Meridian, she is responsible for clinical operations across the company’s sites. She also oversees the regulatory, clinical data, quality assurance, risk management, and participant recruitment departments.
Previously, Stoddard was the COO for the Alliance for Multispecialty Research. She also served as Vice President for a national multi-site research network for four years. During this time, she was responsible for the development, buildout, and credentialing of three urgent care centers in three states to augment the core business.
Stoddard was also director of research for Heartland Research Associates for 15 years. During her tenure at Heartland, the business grew from one employee to more than 50, and conducted more than 1,000 studies across varied therapeutic areas and five embedded research centers.
Stoddard attended Wichita State University and St. Francis School of Nursing. Her past experience includes the buildout of an Orthopedic Ambulatory Surgery Center, accredited by the state of Kansas. She is a member of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals and is recognized by that organization as a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator.
Chief Commercial Officer (CCO)
At Meridian, Andrew Kimball is responsible for generating new partnerships and strengthening existing client relationships while assisting in the financial and operational growth of research sites. Kimball was formerly vice president of business development at a top research site network. During his tenure, he expanded the network to comprise more than 90 principal investigators and 35 cities.
Kimball was also senior director of business operations at Total Clinical Trial Management, and worked at companies including Benchmark Research, VaxNet, and Greenphire. Kimball frequently presents at clinical research conferences worldwide, speaking on site management, growth, and relationship development. He graduated from Mount Wachusett Community College with a degree in graphic design.
Brandon J. Essink, MD, CPI
Chief Medical Officer, Principal Investigator
Brandon Essink, MD, CPI, has served as a principal investigator at Meridian since 2003. In his role, Dr. Essink directs clinical practice operations at Meridian’s dedicated research center in Omaha, NE. He is frequently selected to lead pioneering vaccine research programs because of his extensive experience in the field and the superb track record sites have maintained under his guidance. Results from clinical studies Dr. Essink oversees are frequently published in industry journals, including Vaccine.
In 2020, Dr. Essink led weekly meetings with vaccine developers participating in the Operation Warp Speed (OWS) program and collaborating with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). These calls helped guide protocol design for multiple Sponsors. Dr. Essink served as one of three co-lead principal investigators for Moderna’s Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial for mRNA-1273, also served on the trial’s data and safety monitoring board (DSMB), and would co-author the trial’s primary publication in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr. Essink earned his BS from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, NE, and attended medical school at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in Omaha, NE, graduating in 2001. He completed his residency in Family Practice at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2003 and a Family Practice Procedural Fellowship in 2004. He has been board certified in family practice since 2003 and has practiced family medicine since 2004.
Brandi A. Lang, Esq.
Chief Legal Officer (CLO)
Brandi Lang has practiced law for businesses in health care, corporate governance/transactions, M&A, high finance, real estate, and employment law in a career spanning two decades. As Meridian’s CLO, her long-standing health care experience helps her plan for and manage the legal, risk management, and compliance needs of the multi-state organization.
Before joining Meridian in 2017, Lang represented clients nationwide in private practice on behalf of her firm’s nationally-reputed health care section. She has served in house as an officer and managing counsel for Fidelity National Title Group (a part of Fidelity National Financial, a Fortune 500 company), and in other private practice capacities.
Lang believes in community involvement on many levels, and has served on charitable boards, volunteered for altruistic entities and causes, coached youth sports teams, taught continuing legal education courses for attorneys and legal professionals, and written scholarly articles on points of law for health care industry publications. Lang earned her bachelor of business administration in finance with a minor in accounting from Texas Christian University. She graduated with her JD from the University of Texas School of Law in Austin. Lang is licensed to practice law in Texas (2003) and Florida (2006), and is registered as in-house counsel in the state of Nebraska.
Chief People Officer (CPO)
Stephanie Anderson directs all aspects of human resources management, including recruitment, benefit management, and employee onboarding at Meridian. She excels at creating unique solutions to communicate with and motivate employees.
Before joining Meridian in 2019, Anderson served a similar role at ALN Medical Management, and was a strategic business partner at Spreetail, an ecommerce company based in Lincoln, NE. She earned her master’s degree in organizational leadership and change from Drury University in Springfield, MO. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, NE. Anderson has also earned a SHRM-CP designation from the Society of Human Resource Management.
Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
Through a career spanning more than 20 years, Beau Garland opened three sites in California as part of a large site management organization (SMO), and later established his own research center, Paradigm Clinical Research. Paradigm grew to five sites across the U.S., and was frequently recognized for its high performance for vaccine trials.
As the longtime COO and director of business development at Paradigm, Garland optimized contracting, budgeting, regulatory, and source processes. Moreover, he ensured the sites excelled in patient recruitment and retention.
As vice president of recruitment at Meridian, Garland leads patient recruitment operations at sites nationwide and at Meridian’s dedicated call centers in Omaha, NE, Sioux City, IA, and Statesboro, GA. He has strengthened Meridian’s enrollment and retention processes, as well as the company’s patient outreach initiatives. In 2020, he oversaw recruitment advertising and public relations activities that generated more than 60,000 new, fully-identified potential participant leads in less than a year.
Garland earned his degrees in economics and healthcare policy from San Francisco State University.
Chief Relationship Officer (CRO)
Wes Bonner joined Meridian Clinical Research in 2014 and now serves as Chief Relationship Officer. He is responsible for cultivating relationships with physicians across North America to enhance Meridian’s site network and operations. Before joining Meridian, Bonner accrued 17 years of experience in sales and account management roles with pharmaceutical companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Upjohn, Otsuka, and Sanofi (where he was a seven-time Above and Beyond winner).
Bonner serves as expert counsel for Total Clinical Trial Management, a committee that bridges the gap between clinical research organizations (CROs) and clinical research conduct. He has also spoken at a Model Agreements & Guidelines International (MAGI) event and served as a moderator at the Global Site Solutions Summit. Bonner earned his Bachelor of Science in communication from Georgia Southern University.
Chief Strategy Officer (CSO)
With 30 years of health sciences industry experience, Marty Anderson has served in various roles in clinical research throughout her career. She was previously Vice President of Clinical Development and the Global Vaccine Lead at Syneos Health. At Syneos, Anderson helped build and lead the Catalyst Site Network, which streamlined vendor, eCRF, and site startup processes to get vaccine studies running within 30 days.
Anderson is well-known in the industry, and has a knack for instilling operational excellence in partnerships among Sponsors, CROs, and sites. She has worked across all phases of drug development, with experience in supporting research programs at biotech companies, CROs, and investigative sites. She was recognized by R&D Magazine as a Top 10 Notable Person in Research and Development.
Shishir Khetan, MD
Medical Director, Principal Investigator
Shishir Khetan, MD, emigrated from his native India to the U.S. when he was five years old. He grew up in Maryland, received his BS from the University of Maryland, and graduated from the University of West Indies Medical School.
Dr. Khetan joined Meridian as a principal investigator in 2018. In 2020, he enrolled more than 500 participants into Moderna’s Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial (mRNA-1273), and, under his guidance, Meridian’s Rockville site continues to be a top enroller for vaccine research programs.
In 2022, Dr. Khetan was also named President of Rockville Internal Medicine Group, where he has led clinical research activities, performed stress tests, and played a major role in utilizing electronic health records more efficiently. Dr. Khetan is also a Regional Medical Director and Virtual Medical Director for Privia Medical Group, and serves on the Privia Health and Privia Quality Network Board of Governors.
Dr. Khetan's residency training, which included a year as Chief Resident, was in Primary Care/Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine at Elmhurst Hospital Center in New York.