About GuideStar

We’ve Been in Your Shoes

Our certified professionals have years of research experience at the site level for hospitals, health systems, and academic medical centers. We have walked a mile in your shoes, which gives GuideStar the unique ability to anticipate your needs, and customize our services to your organization’s specific needs.

GuideStar’s talented and certified clinical research professionals deliver expertise to optimize:

›› Finance
›› Operations
›› Infrastructure
›› Staffing

›› Quality
›› Compliance
›› Strategy

Meet Our Team

The GuideStar research support team is your business advisor and partner in strategically assessing your goals and positioning your department for success. Whether your aim is to create, enhance or expand the research function, our experts will support you and your team in any aspect of your department’s operation.

Maria M. Chester, RN, BSN, OCN, CCRP

Vice President, Operations

Maria came to GuideStar with more than 15 years of experience in healthcare, and 11 years of experience in clinical research. Before serving as Vice President, Operations at GuideStar, Maria began her career in clinical research at the LSUHSC Scott Cancer Center as the Lead CRA for the MB-CCOP as well as Research Nurse at Ochsner Medical Center-Kenner, then Clinical Research Director for a 3-hospital consortium. Her zeal for research and diverse knowledge make her an asset to GuideStar and our sites. She holds a BSN from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

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Ashanti Washington

Research Compliance Analyst

Ashanti came to GuideStar Research with 4 years of clinical research experience at Ochsner Medical Center. As a Research Compliance Analyst, Ashanti facilitates the regulatory start-up for multiple clients. She also works within finance ensuring congruency between study documents. She holds a BA in Humanities from Southeastern Louisiana University.

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Christian Weydert, MBA

Research Finance Manager

Christian came to GuideStar with 8 years of professional experience in clinical research operations, healthcare finance, and audit. As Research Finance Manager, he creates and develops workflows and tools that promote effective financial management for GuideStar clients. Christian’s business interests include process improvements, system development and research revenue cycle management. He holds a BS in Finance from Louisiana State University and an MBA with a finance concentration from the University of New Orleans.

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Chad M. Eriksen, MS, CCRC

Director, Site Development

Chad came to GuideStar with more than 10 years of experience in clinical research. As Director of Site Development, he develops clinical trial operational strategies founded on successful clinical conduct while also acting as a liaison between clinical trial Sites and Sponsors. Chad began his career at Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, LA, as a clinical research coordinator before being promoted to management. He holds a BA in Communications Studies from the University of Alabama and an MS in Human Ecology-Nutrition from Louisiana State University.

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Mia Saponara

Research Finance Analyst

Mia came to GuideStar Research with 3 years of finance and audit experience. As a Research Finance Analyst, Mia provides clients with detailed and accurate cost and coverage analyses as well as negotiates contracts and budgets for accelerated trial activation, ensuring that all individual client costs and needs are met in a timely manner. She holds a BS in International Trade and Finance from Louisiana State University.

(scroll down for continued bio)

John Tiley, MS-HCM

Research Finance Specialist

John came to GuideStar Research with more than 5 years of experience in clinical research at Ochsner Medical Center. As Research Finance Specialist, he enjoys working with clients and sponsors building coverage analyses and negotiating budgets and contracts. John holds a BS in Biological Science, BA in Spanish from Southeast Louisiana University, and an MS in Healthcare Management from the University of New Orleans.

(scroll down for continued bio)

Marcus Creel, MS

Marketing Manager

Marcus came to GuideStar with more than 10 years of experience in the communications industry. As Marketing Manager, he develops and implements branding and content strategy that ensures messaging accurately reflects the GuideStar brand image and engages each of the company’s target audiences. Prior to working with GuideStar, Marcus worked in communications for multiple industries, including tourism, radio, and aerospace and defense. Marcus holds a BA in English Language and Literature, and an MS in Public Relations from The University of Southern Mississippi.

(scroll down for continued bio)

Maria M. Chester, RN, BSN, OCN, CCRP

Vice President, Operations

Maria came to GuideStar with more than 15 years of experience in healthcare, and 11 years of experience in clinical research. Before serving as Vice President, Operations at GuideStar, Maria began her career in clinical research at the LSUHSC Scott Cancer Center as the Lead CRA for the MB-CCOP as well as Research Nurse at Ochsner Medical Center-Kenner, then Clinical Research Director for a 3-hospital consortium. Her zeal for research and diverse knowledge make her an asset to GuideStar and our sites. She holds a BSN from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

Ashanti Washington

Research Compliance Analyst

Ashanti came to GuideStar Research with 4 years of clinical research experience at Ochsner Medical Center. As a Research Compliance Analyst, Ashanti facilitates the regulatory start-up for multiple clients. She also works within finance ensuring congruency between study documents. She holds a BA in Humanities from Southeastern Louisiana University.

Christian Weydert, MBA

Research Finance Manager

Christian came to GuideStar with 8 years of professional experience in clinical research operations, healthcare finance, and audit. As Research Finance Manager, he creates and develops workflows and tools that promote effective financial management for GuideStar clients. Christian’s business interests include process improvements, system development and research revenue cycle management. He holds a BS in Finance from Louisiana State University and an MBA with a finance concentration from the University of New Orleans.

Chad M. Eriksen, MS, CCRC

Director, Site Development

Chad came to GuideStar with more than 10 years of experience in clinical research. As Director of Site Development, he develops clinical trial operational strategies founded on successful clinical conduct while also acting as a liaison between clinical trial Sites and Sponsors. Chad began his career at Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, LA, as a clinical research coordinator before being promoted to management. He holds a BA in Communications Studies from the University of Alabama and an MS in Human Ecology-Nutrition from Louisiana State University.

Mia Saponara

Research Finance Analyst

Mia came to GuideStar Research with 3 years of finance and audit experience. As a Research Finance Analyst, Mia provides clients with detailed and accurate cost and coverage analyses as well as negotiates contracts and budgets for accelerated trial activation, ensuring that all individual client costs and needs are met in a timely manner. She holds a BS in International Trade and Finance from Louisiana State University.

John Tiley, MS-HCM

Research Finance Specialist

John came to GuideStar Research with more than 5 years of experience in clinical research at Ochsner Medical Center. As Research Finance Specialist, he enjoys working with clients and sponsors building coverage analyses and negotiating budgets and contracts. John holds a BS in Biological Science, BA in Spanish from Southeast Louisiana University, and an MS in Healthcare Management from the University of New Orleans.

Marcus Creel, MS

Marketing Manager

Marcus came to GuideStar with more than 10 years of experience in the communications industry. As Marketing Manager, he develops and implements branding and content strategy that ensures messaging accurately reflects the GuideStar brand image and engages each of the company’s target audiences. Prior to working with GuideStar, Marcus worked in communications for multiple industries, including tourism, radio, and aerospace and defense. Marcus holds a BA in English Language and Literature, and an MS in Public Relations from The University of Southern Mississippi.

Christian Burns

Managing Partner

Christian’s passion for clinical research began when he first participated in a clinical trial at a young age. Since then, his fascination with the industry and entrepreneurial spirit has continually pushed him to find ways to transform and improve upon existing processes, from site operations and management to digital marketing and technology. Through his leadership of GuideStar and its two sister companies, BTC Network and ClinEdge, Christian continues to expand much needed services and offer more innovative solutions within the clinical research space.

(scroll down for continued bio)

Al Peters

Managing Partner

Al has been an innovator within the clinical research industry for nearly two decades. His notable leadership achievements and knack for spotting industry inefficiencies has helped shape new categories within the field of clinical research. His leadership at GuideStar and its two sister companies, BTC Network and ClinEdge, has contributed to the disruption of the current site landscape by providing much needed research clinic and patient-centric services. Looking to the future, he hopes to continue supporting innovative ideas to improve inefficiencies at the site level.

(scroll down for continued bio)

Lori Rich

Director of Finance & Accounting

Lori is the leader of the accounting team at GuideStar. Previously, Lori worked in corporate finance dealing with many aspects of financial and managerial accounting. She has utilized her foundation in accounting to create optimal productivity for her clients through financial management. In her downtime she enjoys traveling, attending local events and spending time with family and friends.

(scroll down for continued bio)

Scott Palmese

Vice President Site Networks

Prior to joining the GuideStar leadership team, Scott held a variety of responsibilities at the research site level. He helps to administer strategic oversight of the operations of the GuideStar team and provides guidance for the continued growth of the company. He specializes in operations, business development and financial management for research sites.

(scroll down for continued bio)

Ashley Eldridge

Director of Marketing & Design

As Design and Marketing Director Ashley works with GuideStar and its two sister companies to grow brand awareness and marketing exposure using strategic creative methods. After spending nearly a decade working in design and marketing for start-ups and growing companies in the clinical trials industry, Ashley knows what truly drives new business, partnerships, awareness and creativity in this industry. Success does not start or end with just one method, it’s about understanding and solving problems by intimately connecting with our customers and communicating with them at their level.

(scroll down for continued bio)

Meg McCann

Director of People & Culture

Meg came to ClinEdge with a background in communications and sales, driving her ability to thrive as Director of People and Culture. Meg’s knowledge and utilization of multiple communication styles has aided in propelling the human resources department to grow with our employees in making sure we are competitive and driving success into the business. Meg loves working directly with people and making their professional careers flourish through a variety of avenues, one being their success with GuideStar, ClinEdge and BTC Network.

(scroll down for continued bio)

Ross Golen

Associate Director of Business Development & Finance​

Ross came to GuideStar with more than 10 years of experience in Business Development/ Account Management. As the Associate Director of Business Development, he focuses on collaborating with research organizations, identifying pain points, offering solutions and inciting growth. Ross’ path to Clinical Research began with a public challenge to shave his beard, which snowballed into a shave-a-thon tradition that has raised over $10 million dollars for pancreatic cancer research to date.

(scroll down for continued bio)

Bob Place

Director of Technology

Bob joined GuideStar with over 20 years of experience in Information Technology with a background in software development and enterprise application management. As Director of Technology, he is focused on process improvement and operational efficiency. Bob is also an active musician and attended Berklee College of Music in Boston.

(scroll down for continued bio)

Sean Walsh

Director of Site Development

Sean brings over 20 years of Medical Management experience to GuideStar and has a key interest in strategic design and implementation of clinical research sites. He has served as an Operational Chief for multi-specialty medical centers and health systems and has vast experience integrating clinical research operations into medical practices. Sean has led an award winning clinical research site to 13 drug approvals among his many other achievements in this industry.

(scroll down for continued bio)

Christian Burns

Managing Partner

Christian’s passion for clinical research began when he first participated in a clinical trial at a young age. Since then, his fascination with the industry and entrepreneurial spirit has continually pushed him to find ways to transform and improve upon existing processes, from site operations and management to digital marketing and technology. Through his leadership of GuideStar and its two sister companies, BTC Network and ClinEdge, Christian continues to expand much needed services and offer more innovative solutions within the clinical research space.

Al Peters

Managing Partner

Al has been an innovator within the clinical research industry for nearly two decades. His notable leadership achievements and knack for spotting industry inefficiencies has helped shape new categories within the field of clinical research. His leadership at GuideStar and its two sister companies, BTC Network and ClinEdge, has contributed to the disruption of the current site landscape by providing much needed research clinic and patient-centric services. Looking to the future, he hopes to continue supporting innovative ideas to improve inefficiencies at the site level.

Lori Rich

Director of Finance & Accounting

Lori is the leader of the accounting team at GuideStar. Previously, Lori worked in corporate finance dealing with many aspects of financial and managerial accounting. She has utilized her foundation in accounting to create optimal productivity for her clients through financial management. In her downtime she enjoys traveling, attending local events and spending time with family and friends.

Scott Palmese

Vice President Site Networks

Prior to joining the GuideStar leadership team, Scott held a variety of responsibilities at the research site level. He helps to administer strategic oversight of the operations of the GuideStar team and provides guidance for the continued growth of the company. He specializes in operations, business development and financial management for research sites.

Ashley Eldridge

Director of Marketing & Design

As Design and Marketing Director Ashley works with GuideStar and its two sister companies to grow brand awareness and marketing exposure using strategic creative methods. After spending nearly a decade working in design and marketing for start-ups and growing companies in the clinical trials industry, Ashley knows what truly drives new business, partnerships, awareness and creativity in this industry. Success does not start or end with just one method, it’s about understanding and solving problems by intimately connecting with our customers and communicating with them at their level.

Meg McCann

Director of People & Culture

Meg came to ClinEdge with a background in communications and sales, driving her ability to thrive as Director of People and Culture. Meg’s knowledge and utilization of multiple communication styles has aided in propelling the human resources department to grow with our employees in making sure we are competitive and driving success into the business. Meg loves working directly with people and making their professional careers flourish through a variety of avenues, one being their success with GuideStar, ClinEdge and BTC Network.

Ross Golen

Associate Director of Business Development & Finance​

Ross came to GuideStar with more than 10 years of experience in Business Development/ Account Management. As the Associate Director of Business Development, he focuses on collaborating with research organizations, identifying pain points, offering solutions and inciting growth. Ross’ path to Clinical Research began with a public challenge to shave his beard, which snowballed into a shave-a-thon tradition that has raised over $10 million dollars for pancreatic cancer research to date.

Bob Place

Director of Technology

Bob joined GuideStar with over 20 years of experience in Information Technology with a background in software development and enterprise application management. As Director of Technology, he is focused on process improvement and operational efficiency. Bob is also an active musician and attended Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Sean Walsh

Director of Site Development

Sean brings over 20 years of Medical Management experience to GuideStar and has a key interest in strategic design and implementation of clinical research sites. He has served as an Operational Chief for multi-specialty medical centers and health systems and has vast experience integrating clinical research operations into medical practices. Sean has led an award winning clinical research site to 13 drug approvals among his many other achievements in this industry.