Expert Consultants

Alice Berringer

Lighthouse Pharma Solutions LLC

Alice spent over 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry with different companies, therapeutic areas  (mostly oncology) and geographies.  Similar to many in the business, Alice started her career as a pharmaceutical sales representative for almost seven years and then advanced into different commercial positions in marketing and business analysis in the US and Global organizations. This experience included working on product launches and leading commercial teams in the emerging markets of China, Middle East, Russia, and others where she was based in the global headquarters in Switzerland. These diverse commercial experiences allowed for better insights into the needs of the customers in different markets and within different disease areas. Additional roles and experiences included working directly with the global management teams in developing strategy and forecasting on a number of strategic projects.

She spent several years leading the market research/analytical teams in both US and Global where she gained the ability to research and synthesize large amounts of information and data. The direct sales and marketing experiences gave a more insightful foundation to the analysis.

Alice has a degree in History from Immaculate University and an MBA in Marketing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Besides her family which always comes first, Alice loves to travel and play tennis. She started playing competitive tennis at an early age and continues to play tennis but more recreational now.

Bhavani Chandramouli

Senior Communications Consultant

Bhavani’s diverse and extensive strategic communications experience covers numerous industries including more than 15 years in the healthcare/pharma sector. Specifically, Bhavani has held several leadership roles at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. Her demonstrated expertise covers organizational transformation and change management, executive branding and reputation, employee engagement and corporate communications. An astute problem solver with a track record of success, she has led the development and implementation of audience-focused, integrated, multi-channel communications strategies across industry-leading organizations in the health care, information services, and telecommunications sectors. Prior to her most current position as the Americas Region Head of Communications for the Business Services division of Novartis, she held senior communications roles at Lucent Technologies and Dun and Bradstreet among other large, complex organizations. Over the course of her career, she has consistently led diverse, multi-functional project teams across global, regional and local geographies.

Bhavani holds an M.S. in Business & Marketing from New School University in New York and a B.A. in Economics and Statistics from the University of Kerala in India.

Margie Hicke- global patient advocacy & patient engagement expert

Margie Hickey, RN, MS Nursing, MS Human Resource Administration

MMH Communications, LLC
Senior Advisor, Patient Advocacy and Patient Engagement

Margie’s academic and oncology nursing experience is extensive and crosses all clinical settings. As director, Tulane Cancer Center, Tulane University Hospital and Clinic, Margie was responsible for program planning, development and staff management for several cost centers.  She also maintained responsibility for a multi-disciplinary oncology clinic, radiation therapy center, tumor registry and chemotherapy infusion center. Prior to this she was clinical director at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, where she held similar responsibilities and roles. These positions followed many years as a staff nurse where she was directly responsible for patient care.

Over the years, Margie also has shared her experiences in several ways to advance oncology nursing – as adjunct faculty in Medical Surgical Nursing at the University of Pittsburgh to being an Oncology Nurse Educator addressing multiple oncology disease states, treatment and symptom management.

She also is an author and editor on several publications in oncology, as well as a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), and the Society of Otorhinolaryngology and Head-Neck Nurses (SOHN), Inc. Recently, she was brought on as Executive Director of the Society of Otorhinolaryngology and Head-Neck Nurses (SOHN), Inc. 

Having an RN, MS in Nursing and MS in Human Resource Administration, Margie combines her vast experience in oncology and understanding of organizational challenges to help embed patient engagement in clinical settings.

Veronique Imperial, Masters in Business and International Law

Senior Communications Management Consultant
US, global and multi-national experience in oncology product communications, issues and project management, and patient relations

With more than 20 years’ experience in supporting oncology programs, Veronique is well suited to drive the strategy and implementation of projects for the cancer community.

Most recently, she has been supporting European efforts for a leading oncology organization – driving external communications strategy and execution in a variety of cancer settings; connecting cross-functional activities among patient advocacy, digital and communications teams; and supporting agency management. She also has supported internal communications activities for the company’s U.S. and Latin America regions.

Prior to this, Veronique worked at leading New York City based public relations agencies, including Ruder Finn and Noonan/Russo. At Ruder Finn, she was the lead on all the agency’s Novartis Oncology product communications activities. At Noonan/Russo, she supported the agency’s market positioning and communications activities for Genta Corporation’s emerging cancer technology.

Having worked so intimately in the cancer setting and seeing the challenges faced by people living with cancer, Veronique recently launched the C4C Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to bring comfort to the home of cancer patients and their families. As a start, the Foundation will provide families with a simple but key unmet need for cancer patients returning home from a hospital stay following treatment – a clean home, free of charge.

Veronique received her Masters in Business and International Law at the Assas Paris II in Paris, France. She and her husband have one daughter.

Susanna Leto di Priolo, PharmD

Patient Advocacy Consultant
Experienced in patient engagement in R&D, patient relations, expert in European patient organizations and policies 

With a PharmD in Clinical Pharmacology, Susanna has worked in multinational pharmaceutical companies in various roles for more than 35 years. During that time, her roles have spanned clinical research, communications and external relations, and – most recently – patient organization advocacy and collaboration at the European level. She has worked extensively with oncology, hematology and rare disease patient organizations.

Recently, Susanna co-authored an article on patient engagement in R&D along with three others, Improving Patient Involvement in Medicines Research and Development: A Practical Roadmap. Jan Geissler, Dipl.-Kfm., Bettina Ryll, PhD, Susanna Leto di Priolo, PharmD, Mary Uhlenhopp, RN, MS, MPH; First Published May 8, 2017

Based in Italy, Susanna was active in the IMI project EUPATI (European Patient Academy on Therapeutic Innovation), and coordinates WECAN, a network of 23 pan-European and international oncology and onco-hematology patient organizations active at the scientific and policy level in Europe

Michele Gardom, MSN, RN

Patient Advocacy Consultant

Michele brings over 30 years of unique and diverse oncology, executive leadership, and healthcare experience across multiple areas along the cancer care continuum. After working in various academic oncology clinical roles, including the staff educator and Patient Care Manager of a large medical/oncology unit in Pittsburgh, PA, Michele moved to the association management sector, where she worked for nearly 25 years. Michele worked in various roles at the national Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) headquarters, where she excelled in creating and leading innovative projects and teams across the span of her career. With her most recent ONS role being the Chief Strategy Officer, Michele led the ONS Center for Advocacy and Health Policy, education, publication, marketing and communications, business development and global efforts, partnerships, and ONS strategic plan. Michele also developed and led ONS’s first successful for-profit subsidiary, Oncology Education Services, Inc., which served as a medical education company.

She supports Health Economic and Outcomes Research (HEOR) and real-world evidence studies for a health informatics company by building and leading the clinical data services team, designing, developing, and delivering high-quality longitudinal data sets for analysis. Michele connects with patient advocates, oncology health care professionals, and pharmaceutical companies on the evidence, perspectives, and trends in delivering patient-centered care.

In addition to being an RN with a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN), Michele is currently enrolled in the Health Systems Executive Leadership Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, where her studies have been supported by a Graduate Scholarship in Cancer Nursing Practice, GSCNP-17-118-01, from the American Cancer Society.

Nancy Miller

Independent Healthcare Communications Writer

For more than 15 years, Nancy has focused on writing strategic and compelling communications materials on behalf of leading pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Sanofi, Regeneron, Merck KGaA and Novartis. She is known throughout the industry for her ability to make complex medical and scientific information user-friendly for journalists, consumers and health professionals. Every project, regardless of size, budget or cachet is approached with the highest level of commitment.

Over the years, Nancy has developed expertise in dozens of therapeutic categories, but her passion is telling the unfolding story of cancer research. After working on countless oncology communications programs, statistics became personal when her father was diagnosed with an aggressive and ultimately fatal blood cancer. This experience gave her a new and deep appreciation about the impact of cancer on patients and their families, the hope and reality of participating in clinical trials and the relentless search for new treatments.

Nancy often partners with top healthcare public relations agencies over an extended period to bring data and regulatory announcements, consumer awareness campaigns and internal communications to life. For the last several years, she has been a key team member developing communications for a blockbuster breast cancer medicine. Before striking out on her own, she worked at Fleishman-Hillard Public Relations as well as several medical/patient education agencies.

Nancy graduated with a B.A. in communications from the SUNY Albany, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.  She is married and has two children.

Sheila Noonan

Communications Consultant
Internal Communications and Copy Writer/Editor

Sheila understands the patient’s experience from a variety of perspectives: as a health writer, a nurse’s daughter and a former home health aide. She also brings the journalistic skills she developed as a daily newspaper reporter to corporate internal communications.

For the past 13 years, Sheila has managed internal news content and led employee communication initiatives in the pharmaceutical industry – first at Schering-Plough and then at Sanofi US. With each internal news article, executive message, blog post or employee campaign, Sheila’s goal is to provide information in a way that employees will gain deeper understanding of the organization or become engaged to take the desired action.

Prior to working in the pharma industry, Sheila wrote patient-centered articles for University Hospital (Newark, NJ) and health industry news stories for New Jersey Medicine.

Sheila is a proud alumna of Rutgers University, where she double majored in journalism and political science. She and her husband have three children.

Debra L. Pirsos

Communitarian and Project Manager

Debra brings a wealth of diverse experience to G. Stone Connections, L.L.C. – from a professional in communications, patient engagement and event planning to author, yoga and meditation instructor, coffee shop owner and entrepreneur! Debra brings more than 25 years experience in medical marketing and communications for major healthcare systems, solo medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies. Her experience ranging from public relations and communications to branding and website design for specialty physicians (orthopedic oncologists and surgeons), dentists, education systems and adoption agencies (under her consultancy DP Communication Solutions, LLC). Most recently she worked as an in-house consultant to Novartis Oncology’s Global Patient Relations Department to facilitate funding and review processes associated with patient organizations and patient educational support.

Debra is the Owner/Operator of Bunbury’s Coffee Shop in Piermont, NY. Having defined herself as a communitarian, Debra leveraged the flavor of her local coffee shop to found Bunbury’s Books, the self-publishing arm of her coffee shop. Through Bunbury’s Books, Debra has three of her own children’s books and one memoir chapter piece. To round out her vast accomplishments, she also is a certified Yoga and Meditation Teacher – and all stemming from a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Communications

Joy Schmitt

Patient Advocacy Consultant
US and global patient advocacy and patient engagement, communications

Joy’s 20 years of client-side experience at big pharma and biotech companies informs the consultative services she provides in patient advocacy, patient engagement, and communications.

Having started her career in pharmaceutical and hospital sales at Roche, Joy understands challenges faced in the field and incorporates this perspective in her council. Eventually, she found her niche in communications where she managed HIV product and advocacy communications at a time when advocacy was coming into its own. She worked closely with AIDS activists to navigate through FDA Advisory Committee meetings, expanded access programs, and the launch of Invirase, the first HIV protease inhibitor.

The positive relationship she had developed with patient advocates prompted them to refer her to Agouron for a position leading patient advocacy and product communications for its oncology pipeline and for Viracept, the first HIV protease inhibitor indicated for both children and adults. After Agouron was acquired by Pfizer, Joy was tasked with working with company leadership and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to executive a give-away program for Pfizer’s anti-fungal treatment, Diflucan, in sub-Saharan Africa.

At Genta, a small NJ-based biopharmaceutical company focused on cancer development, Joy managed corporate, product and advocacy communications. She fulfilled a similar role at Schering-Plough, where she led global oncology, antiviral product and advocacy communications.

Joy has spent the past ten years helping clients build and sustain strategic engagement and advocacy plans in therapeutic areas including oncology/hematology, diabetes, cardiology and ophthalmology.

Joy attended The College of William and Mary, where she majored in English. She and her husband have three daughters.

Joanne Vanak, MSN, BSN

Senior US Patient Advocacy Consultant

Joanne has over 44 years of oncology nursing experience, with a keen, proactive focus on research, treatment modalities and patient care. She applies these skills to developing and implementing educational training programs, enhancing relationships with advocacy groups, developing patient and caretaker resources, and creating methods of promoting the value and impact of patient advocacy.

Prior to consulting, Joanne was with Jansen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) family company, leading a team of nurses and pharmacists within the Oncology Early Development Research and Development department. Prior to this role, Joanne spent 9 years as a Senior Director in Scientific Advocacy, creating the position after recognizing an unmet need in connecting with patient advocacy groups. She helped develop a web-based resource tool that identifies and promotes the advocacy groups and resources for patients, caregivers, and families in a user-friendly fashion. 

Joanne is on the Cancer Care Board of Trustees, a member of Advanced Practitioner Society of Hematology and Oncology (APSHO) and the SHAPE Partner organization.  Her nursing career ranges from in -patient, out-patient and hospice nursing including tenure at Georgetown and as a Clinical Nurse Specialist at 3 large comprehensive cancer centers.   Joanne is also an active member of the Coast Guard Spouse Club. She holds a Master of Science in Nursing from Georgetown, University as well as a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from George Mason University.

Kristina Woodworth

SciMantis LLC
Independent Medical Writer

During a career in medical communications spanning more than two decades, Kristina has benefitted from a variety of professional experiences in the pharmaceutical and clinical diagnostics industries, ranging from bench science to strategic publications management. In her current role as an established medical writer and consultant, she has developed content for academic, community practice and patient audiences. She comes to her work with a collaborative spirit and a devotion to creating content that has the potential to drive advances in patient care. Long-standing associations with established clients and key opinion leaders attest to Kristina’s relationship-building skills.

Distinct from and yet always informed by her medical writing work, Kristina is a passionate supporter of the healthcare and emotional support needs of vulnerable or isolated patient populations. Her current work in public health is driven by a determination to create innovative communications and integrative health strategies to reach chronically underserved communities. International living and extensive global travel with her family of six, along with her community-based experience as a tai chi instructor, have made it possible for Kristina to connect across a rich diversity of cultures, global healthcare markets and patient viewpoints.

Kristina graduated with a B.S. in microbiology from Rutgers University, and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Above all else, she and her husband are proud parents to a family of four children and three dogs.