Google Hangout May 6th, 3PM ET- Participating in Research – Speaker Bios #CTAW

During Clinical Trials Awareness Week, May 4-8, 2015, we will be taking part in events to raise awareness about the need for volunteers. As part of this campaign, HealthiVibe will be hosting a Google Hangout on-air broadcast about participating in research tomorrow.

Join us as we hear personal stories from two clinical trial participants, explore ways to raise awareness, and learn how researchers and pharmaceutical companies are engaging patients to make the research experience more patient friendly.

Date/Time: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 – 3-3:30 PM ET

Or view the live event below. Once the broadcast is over, Google will automatically convert it to a YouTube video.

Guest Speakers

Jessica PetroffJessica Petroff
MS Patient, Clinical Trial Participant

Jessica Petroff is a certified medical assistant at a family practice in Indianapolis, IN. Although she had symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) since 1998, she wasn’t officially diagnosed until 2002.  After failing three different therapies, she was invited to join a clinical trial in October 2008. It was a great experience for her and the drug truly impacted her life for the better.

After the study ended, Jessica became a patient speaker, traveling the country and sharing her positive research experience with others who have MS. Jessica has been married nearly twenty years to her husband, Doug and together they have two children, Kyle and Cassie.

T.J. Sharpe
Stage IV Melanoma Survivor/Clinical Trial Participant

T.J. Sharpe is a Stage IV melanoma patient who shares his journey through cancer in the Patient #1 Blog on  He was diagnosed in August 2012 with melanoma tumors in multiple organs; since then, he has undergone six surgeries and four immunotherapy treatments over two different clinical trials.

The initial failures and subsequent significant positive response have been chronicled in his blog posts.  Along with the medical treatment, his is a story about life with a serious illness and the mental and emotional hurdles a patient must clear.

He writes how a cancer patient’s challenges mirror those many faces, and portrays life through the optimistic prism of a patient who is on the long, winding road towards overcoming melanoma’s long odds and deadly consequences.  A South Jersey native, T.J. lives in Fort Lauderdale with his wife Jennifer and two young children, Josie and Tommy.

vicky_headshot2Victoria M. Leavitt, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neuropsychology
MS Clinical Care and Research Center
Columbia University Medical Center

Ongoing Research:

My primary research interest lies in understanding cognitive impairment and lifestyle factors that protect against cognitive decline in clinical populations, particularly in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). An estimated 50-70% of persons with MS experience cognitive impairment and decline is seen as early as within 5 years of diagnosis. Although disease pathology (e.g., atrophy, lesion load) partially explains the impact of MS on cognition, the relationship is incomplete. My research focuses on functional neuroimaging as a tool for understanding the neural basis of cognitive decline in MS. We are interested in identifying neurophysiological markers that indicate protection against decline. Using resting-state functional connectivity (derived from fMRI), we are identifying reliable neural networks that are related to / predictive of cognitive preservation.

Other research interests. I am currently investigating the impact of modifiable lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and intellectually stimulating activities for preserving cognition in MS. In another line of work, we are investigating body and brain temperature in MS as a biomarker of clinically silent active inflammatory processes. This research holds implications for our understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of fatigue in MS, as well as novel treatments for MS fatigue.


GM_Innovator_picJerry Matczak
Community Manager
Lilly Clinical Innovation Team

Jerry Matczak is the Community Manager for the Lilly Clinical Innovation Team, responsible for connecting people to the team’s efforts to improve clinical research. His passion lies in engaging people to make clinical trials better.

Jerry’s IT experience at Eli Lilly combined with a variety of sales, marketing and technology roles in startup and consulting environments provide a diverse set of experiences that help him join people & technology.  He has a BA in English & Philosophy from Allegheny College and a MS degree in Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh.  You can learn more about Jerry on the Lilly COI blog and follow Lilly’s clinical innovation team at  @Lilly_COI

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