The NeuroCog Team

The NeuroCog Trials team consists of a carefully selected group of scientists, clinicians, project managers, data monitors and certification specialists. Below are brief profiles for several key members of our leadership team.

Richard Keefe, PhD, Founder and CEO

Dr. Keefe is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Psychology at Duke University Medical Center and Adjunct Professor at the Duke-University of Singapore Graduate Medical School. His work for the past 20 years has focused on applying innovative strategies in neuroscience to measure human cognition.  He has published over 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers on cognition, schizophrenia, dementia, and other CNS disorders. Dr. Keefe has had a leadership role for cognitive methods and coordinating center data review for several large NIMH studies including the CATIE, MATRICS, TURNS, and TENETS projects.  He is Associate Editor for Psychological Medicine, and on the Editorial Board of Schizophrenia Bulletin, Schizophrenia Research, and Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience. He is a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and on the Scientific Board of NAMI and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.  He is President-Elect of the International Society for CNS Clinical Trials and Methodology and assumes the role of President in 2012.

He graduated from Princeton University in 1980, and received his PhD in clinical psychology from NYU in 1990. He completed his clinical psychology internship at Yale University School of Medicine in 1990.

In order to bring cutting-edge innovation and academic quality standards to industry trials collecting neurocognitive data, Dr. Keefe founded NeuroCog Trials, Inc.

Caren Gadigian, President

At Neurocog Trials, Ms. Gadigian is responsible for the human resources, financial operations, facility functions and recruiting process for all of Neurocog’s employees. Ms. Gadigian worked in finance with private investment firms providing equity management, syndicate and operational expertise prior to joining Neruocog Trials. She was headquartered in New York City and had 15 years of experience in finance before relocating to North Carolina. Ms Gadigian partnered with Dr. Keefe in the growth and development of Neurocog Trials, Inc. since its inception.

Alexandra Atkins, Ph.D, Scientific Director

Dr. Atkins is an Experimental Psychologist with expertise in cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience and mental health research.  Prior to attending graduate school, she worked as a Study Coordinator at Weil Medical College, Cornell University where she managed clinical trials for a wide range of CNS disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ALS, headache disorders and stroke.

Dr. Atkins received a B.A. in Psychology from Oberlin College and an interdisciplinary Master’s degree from the University of Chicago prior to earning her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan in 2009.  She completed post-doctoral training at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University.

Dr. Atkins’ past research has used cognitive testing in conjunction with functional neuroimaging techniques to examine the cognitive and neural mechanisms of memory distortion and executive functioning. She has received National Research Service Awards from both the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and presentations. She brings to NeuroCog Trials expertise in neurocognitive assessment, experimental methodology and the biological basis of behavior.

Nicole M. Turcotte, M.A., Operations Director

Ms. Turcotte brings more than 10 years of experience and expertise in the management of organizational and clinical trial teams. At NCT, she has managed a full range of administrative, logistical and operational duties in a wide variety of areas including development of SOPs, budgeting, information technology, scale procurement and translation, as well as trial management.

Ms. Turcotte began her work with Dr. Keefe at his lab at Duke University where she worked as a research assistant acquiring normative data for the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia (BACS). Joining NCT at its inception, she has played an integral role in its growth over the years. She began her career at NCT as a data monitor and certification specialist, quickly progressing into a project management role and eventually becoming the Operations Director. She has experience managing data collection on Phases II through IV clinical trials and has managed numerous global drug development projects. Ms. Turcotte has considerable experience providing supervision, guidance, and oversight for numerous schizophrenia trials as well as normal aging, weight loss, and RLS.

Ms. Turcotte holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Saint Anselm College and a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University where she also earned a Graduate Certificate in Servant Leadership. Additionally, Ms. Turcotte maintains memberships with DIA and ISTAART.

Vicki Davis, DrPh, Biostatistician

Dr. Davis serves as NCT’s chief biostatistician.  She has 30 years of experience in clinical trial research, including 9 years in CNS diseases.  Prior to joining NCT, Dr. Davis worked as a Research Investigator for the Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center in the Department of Biostatistics at UNC, Chapel Hill.  She assisted investigators with data analysis and manuscript preparation for the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness study (CATIE) and the Atherosclerosis Risk in Community Studies (ARIC).  From 1985 to 1996, Dr. Davis was a Senior Research Statistician in the Center for Medical, Environmental and Energy Statistics at Research Triangle Institute.  Her responsibilities primarily included statistical support for cardiovascular clinical trials such as the Multicenter Investigation of the Limitation of Infarct Size (MILIS), the Asymptomatic Carotid Artery Plaque Study (ACAPS), and Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI 4).  At NCT, Dr. Davis collaborates with project leads and data monitors to support their projects.  She assists with manuscript preparation and presentations including statistical analysis, table and graphics design, writing of statistical methods and results, and review of all results prior to submission.  Dr. Davis has developed software to perform ongoing review of tests for potential data problems, to assess test-retest reliability, to impute missing data, and to generate interim analyses and final reports.  In addition, she is available to review statistical analysis plans and provide results from efficacy analyses of cognition data in the form of computer-generated tables and figures at the request of the sponsor.

Dr. Davis earned her Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Doctor of Public Health degrees in Biostatistics from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Trina Walker, RN, Director of Clinical Assessment

Ms. Walker is an experienced Project Manager with expertise in direct patient interaction and both large academic and industry trials.   She has been working in the mental health field since graduation and has 15 years experience working with schizophrenia and bipolar populations. For the past 10 years, she has worked at Duke University Medical Center and John Umstead Hospital doing research on neurocognition.  Mrs. Walker has extensive experience with cognitive assessment and has supervised the collection of data and data quality for several domestic and international multi-site trials, including the collection of data for over 1600 patients in the CATIE schizophrenia and dementia trials. She has also helped develop several cognitive instruments, including the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia (BACS), the Schizophrenia Cognition Rating Scale (SCoRS) and the Cognitive Assessment Interview (CAI).

Ms. Walker received her B.A. in Rehabilitation Therapy  from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1996 and received an A.D. in Nursing in 2005

Shane Baldwin, Director of Quality Assurance

Mr. Baldwin serves as the Director of Quality Assurance. He has over 20 years of experience in clinical trial research. He started his career in Data Management and held various positions in Information Technology, Regulatory and Quality Assurance departments at Contract and Academic Research Organizations. Prior to joining NeuroCog Trials, he worked in the Quality Assurance department of a local pharmaceutical company for over 6 years and progressed into the position of Associate Director of QA. In his role at NeuroCog Trials, Mr. Baldwin oversees the development and maintenance of a Quality Assurance program for NCT that includes compliance, training, auditing, documentation and QA support of sponsor projects to insure adherence to global regulations that apply to the work that NCT completes for their partners.

Mr. Baldwin received his B.A. in English from North Carolina State University.

Jenna Piunti, Director of Program Development

As Director of Program Development, Ms. Piunti serves as the primary point of contact for all contract and budget negotiations including project initiation, amendments and change orders.  During her tenure at NCT, Ms. Piunti has served as Project Lead on several Phase 2 and Phase 3 studies, with a special emphasis on international trials in Asia and South America. Ms. Piunti received her B.A. in English from Siena College.