The BluePearl Science Institutional Review Board (BPS IRB) comprises preeminent veterinary professionals, field leaders and scientists. It was established to provide a thorough, ethical review of all aspects of prospective clinical studies involving live animals before patient participation at BluePearl hospitals. Study evaluation by the BPS IRB includes review of the study protocol and contract, owner consent document and operational requirements.

The BPS IRB's rigorous study review process ensures that studies performed or contributed to by BluePearl Associates maintain the highest ethical care standards for all patients and their owners. This oversight allows BluePearl Associates to confidently contribute to the ever-growing body of veterinary medical knowledge that advances the One Health initiative – a multisectoral and transdisciplinary global approach to achieving optimal health outcomes through recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants and their shared environment.

As part of the Mars Veterinary Health family of brands, BluePearl Science strictly adheres to the Mars Policy on Clinical Studies.

The BluePearl Science IRB consists of:

  • Vice President, Clinical Affairs
  • Director, BluePearl Science
  • Senior Manager of Internal Clinical Studies, BluePearl Science
  • Manager of Clinical Studies, BluePearl Science
  • Director of House Officer Programs
  • Board-certified veterinarians from multiple specialty backgrounds
  • Legal representation for BluePearl
  • University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee member(s)
  • Non-veterinary professionals

Internal BluePearl Science IRB members.

Lenore Bacek, DVM, MS, DACVECC, Vice President, Clinical Affairs

After graduating from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2007, Dr. Bacek obtained board certification in Emergency and Critical Care. Before joining BluePearl, she was a faculty member at Auburn University, where she trained residents, interns and students. Much of her time was dedicated to mentoring house officers in various research areas, including prospective and retrospective projects. She has directly participated in multiple advanced degree committees and has been published widely in journals and textbooks.

As part of the BluePearl Science IRB, Dr. Bacek works to make research more exciting and more accessible to clinicians, as well as educate house officers early in their careers about the benefits of research.

Steven Frederick, LVT, VTS (Surgery), Senior Manager of Internal Clinical Studies

Steven Frederick is a licensed veterinary technician with a specialty certificate in surgery, and he has been in clinical practice since 2006. He presents continuing education at local and international conferences, and he has authored or co-authored more than ten peer-reviewed articles in primary literature as well as several articles in veterinary technician journals.

Steven has served as a mentor for surgical and other technicians in their pursuit of surgery specialty certification, and in 2019, he began a research mentorship program for house officers in the BluePearl hospitals of the southeastern region of the United States. Since 2019, he has guided eight house officers through study design, data acquisition and analysis, and the authoring process, including writing, revising and publishing. He was nominated and selected as a BluePearl finalist for the Mars Make the Difference Award for his research mentorship program.

Steven joined BluePearl Science as the Senior Manager of Internal Clinical Studies in 2022. In this role, he oversees the internal studies division of BluePearl Science, focusing on house officer clinical research. Additionally, he serves as chairperson of the BPS SDRC (Study Design and Review Committee) and BPS IRB.

Brenda Fulcher, CVT, Clinical Studies Manager

As a member of BluePearl since 1997, Brenda brings a breadth of clinical knowledge to the BluePearl Science IRB. Before joining BluePearl Science in 2013, she worked as an emergency and intensive care veterinary technician for 16 years, and she is the founder of the now national BluePearl Pet Blood Donation Program and subsequent BluePearl Pet Blood Bank.

In her role as a member of the BluePearl Science IRB, Brenda reviews study protocols and budgets for in-house clinician and commercially-sponsored studies, along with all accounting matters and administrative duties.

Virginia Sinnot-Stutzman, DVM, DACVECC, Director, House Officer Programs

Dr. Virginia (Jinni) Sinnott-Stutzman is a 2003 graduate of Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. She completed a rotating internship at Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty and Emergency in 2004 in Tucson, Arizona, after which she practiced emergency medicine in Tucson. She completed an emergency and critical care residency at The University of Pennsylvania in 2009. She became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care that year.

Dr. Sinnot-Stutzman has 13 years of experience leading emergency and critical care residencies and has overseen the training of over 180 interns. She is an associate editor for the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. She oversees all of BluePearl’s House Officer Programs, which includes rotating internships, specialty internships and residencies.

As a member of the BluePearl Science IRB, Dr. Sinnot-Stutzman’s experience is integral in evaluating clinical studies and fostering mentorship for future veterinarians.

Barbara Lindsay, BSc/BVMS, DACVIM (Neurology)

Dr. Barbara Lindsay received her veterinary degree from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, in 2012. In 2015, she moved to the United States to pursue specialization and obtained board certification in Neurology in 2021, followed by receiving the ACVIM Neurosurgery Certificate in 2022.

Dr. Lindsay is the Neurology Team Leader at BluePearl in North Dallas and enjoys training neurology residents and neurology specialty interns. She is currently investigating the role of the microbiome in canine patients with epilepsy and hopes to bring new treatment options to these pets in the future.

As a part of the BluePearl Science IRB, Dr. Lindsay looks forward to helping house officers create clinically relevant and scientifically sound research projects to benefit future patients.

Ewan Wolff, Ph.D., DVM, DACVIM (SAIM)

Dr. Ewan Wolff is an internist at BluePearl in Northeast Portland. They have also been involved in supervising resident research at BluePearl in Maitland and have been a reviewer for JVIM, JSAP and JFMS (as well as other scientific journals). They are now the president-elect of ASVNU and have also been the research committee co-chair with ASVNU since 2019.

Dr. Wolff did their doctoral work in vertebrate paleontology (Montana State University, Ph.D., 2007), went on to veterinary school (UW Madison, 2011), did an internship at UW and was a clinical trials intern in oncology for half of 2012 before leaving to start an internal medicine residency at Massey University. They completed a residency at Purdue University and then an ACVIM advanced clinical training fellowship in nephrology and urology before joining BluePearl in 2020. They have prior grant writing, proposal writing, clinical trials and publication experience, including drafting clinical trial protocols and being involved in clinical trials post-residency.

Dr. Wolff is interested in innovation and research and development and looks forward to furthering these interests as a part of the BluePearl Science IRB.

Melavie Taylor

Melavie Taylor has been with BluePearl since 2015 and works as a Medical Program Coordinator for the Clinical Programs Team. As a part of the Clinical Programs Team, she supports the hospital locations participating in training programs such as student externships and the House Officer Program.

As a member of the BluePearl Science IRB, Melavie assists with the storing and tracking of house officer (internal) study proposals.

Stan Little, Vice President of Legal

Stan Little oversees BluePearl’s legal matters and strategy. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Lamar University and graduated from Thomas Jefferson School of Law. With over 20 years of legal experience, which includes 12+ years in the pet industry, and extensive knowledge of general corporate legal and business issues, Stan brings a high level of professionalism to BluePearl.

As a member of the BluePearl Science IRB, he ensures studies are operationally legal, compliant and ethical.

Kari Hayden, DSW

Dr. Kari Hayden is a licensed clinical social worker with a doctorate in clinical social work. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human development, with formal minors in psychology and aging and a certificate in gerontology through Washington State University. Dr. Hayden received her master’s in clinical social work from Boston University's School of Social Work and her doctorate in clinical social work from the University of Kentucky's College of Social Work.

Dr. Hayden has been in the social work and social services fields since 2005, holding leadership positions in elder care, human hospice and inpatient palliative care, oncology, inpatient psychiatric emergency rooms, and human emergency departments. Since 2020, Dr. Hayden has been a veterinary social worker at BluePearl, supporting 19 hospitals in the west region.

As a member of the BluePearl Science IRB, Dr. Hayden's expertise allows her to evaluate the potential impacts of veterinary clinical studies on the medical professionals involved and the participating pets' caretakers.

External BluePearl Science IRB members.

Dondrae Coble, DVM, DACLAM, CertAqV

Dondrae Coble is an experienced veterinarian with a demonstrated history of providing leadership in academic, clinical and research settings. He is currently the Attending Veterinarian of an AAALAC-accredited institute and is an Adjunct Professor at The Ohio State University. Previously, Dr. Coble served as the Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

As a member of the BluePearl Science IRB, he collaborates with veterinary colleagues to review scientific proposals and advance the mission of BluePearl Science.

Gabriel McKeon, DVM, DACLAM

Dr. Gabriel McKeon is the Deputy Chief of Research Support at Duke University. He has more than 12 years of experience as a laboratory animal veterinarian and 20 years of experience in clinical research. He spent nine years as an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee member, overseeing biomedical, agricultural and clinical research.

As a member of the BluePearl Science IRB, Dr. McKeon collaborates with veterinary colleagues to review scientific proposals and advance the mission of BluePearl Science.

Kristen Levine

Kristen Levine is president and founder of Pet Living with Kristen Levine, an educational website for pet owners focused on pet health, wellness and lifestyle. She is also president of FWV Fetching, a pet and animal health marketing agency that provides services for primary and specialty/emergency veterinary practices, veterinary colleges, suppliers and pharmaceutical companies.

As a BluePearl Science IRB member, she has helped to ensure client consent forms are comprehensive and in the best interests of pets and their owners. She has served the pet and animal health community for over 30 years.

William J. Geese, Ph.D.

Dr. Geese serves as an Executive Director within the Translational Medicine organization at Bristol Myers Squibb (Princeton, NJ). In this role, he leads a diverse team of scientists who work to understand the molecular determinants underlying outcomes in cancer patients treated with immuno-oncology and other anti-cancer agents in clinical development. In doing so, this team informs development strategies across the oncology portfolio, enabling the development of improved therapies for patients with better precision, efficacy and safety.

Dr. Geese graduated from Temple University (Philadelphia, PA) with a Ph.D. in molecular biology. Before working at Bristol Myers Squibb, he held a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Pharmacology at Fox Chase Cancer Center (Philadelphia), where he investigated the genetics of drug-metabolizing enzymes and their relationship with prostate cancer risk. He has published over 20 research articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet and Cancer Discovery and is co-inventor of several patents related to patient identification/selection for anti-cancer therapies.

As a BluePearl Science IRB member, Dr. Geese's unique experience is invaluable to advancing the mission of the One Health Initiative.