Meet Our Clinical Trial Center Staff

Veterans Health Foundation

Samantha Bonant, MS, CCRP

Clinical Trials Center Manager

Samantha received her Master’s Degree in Biochemistry from Duquesne University, where her research focused on Fragile X Syndrome. After graduate school, she worked as a Lab Manager at the University of Pittsburgh doing research for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Samantha began her clinical research career at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute as a Regulatory specialist, and later became the supervisor for regulatory affairs. Samantha joined VHF’s Clinical Trials Center in June of 2012 as a Regulatory Specialist and later Regulatory Manager. In October of 2020, Samantha was named to Clinical Trials Center Manager.

Veterans Health Foundation

Karen Gilbert, CCRC

Senior Clinical Research Coordinator

Karen has over 20 years’ experience as a Pharmacy Technician. Karen transitioned to the role of Clinical Coordinator within the Clinical Trials Center in 2015 after working as the VA Pittsburgh’s Investigational Drug Service Pharmacy Technician since 2008. Her previous experience in the Pharmacy field includes both retail and hospital pharmacy.

Veterans Health Foundation

Eve Kellar, RN, BSN

Eve Kellar is a registered nurse by training and earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Ohio State University. She started her nursing career working as a Surgical and Gastroenterology Nurse. Prior to her nursing career she worked as an Ophthalmic Medical Technologist for 20 years where she found her passion for research. Always knowing that she wanted to pursue a career in Research, Eve was thrilled to accept the opportunity to work with the Veterans Health foundation team in March of 2018. As a Clinical Research Nurse, she is excited to be working with a positive, passionate group of professionals exploring the future options in medicine.

Veterans Health Foundation

Justin Mazur

Justin joined the CTC in the Fall of 2020 and has 10 years of research experience. Prior to joining our team, he worked in a regulatory capacity for research trials across a variety of disciplines. He is fortunate to be able to assist in providing research opportunities for veterans of Pittsburgh and beyond.

Patricia Mclendon, DNP, CRNP

Patricia has over 30 years of combined clinical experience as a CRNP/RN. Her interest in research began at the University of Miami as the study clinician for the REACH Project which was designed to examine the natural history and co-morbidities of HIV/AIDS in adolescents. Since then she has worked on a variety of quality improvement projects and research studies for UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Patricia is looking forward to contributing her experience toward the research endeavors of the VHF and improving the outcomes of our Veterans.

Veterans Health Foundation

Shirley Podnar, PharmD


Shirley has served as the Investigational Drug Service Pharmacist since its inception in 2008. Prior to this, she worked as a clinical pharmacist who managed the investigational drug studies for UPMC Magee Women’s Hospital and UPMC Presbyterian Hospital.

Veterans Health Foundation

Karen Smith

Clinical Research Assistant II

Karen joined the CTC in 2014 and comes to us with 35 years in the medical profession. Prior to joining our team she worked as a research coordinator for 10 years in all areas of adult and pediatric research.

Veterans Health Foundation

Meghan Tamburino, CPHT

Research Pharmacy Technician

Megan has been a Pharmacy Technician for 12 years with experience in retail, home infusion, and hospital pharmacies. Megan started her career at the VA in 2015 and is honored to serve our nations veterans.