Leading Cogstate in our focus to optimize the measurement of cognition.
Ken Billard is the Chief Commercial Officer for Cogstate, where he develops and executes strategies focused on expanding the adoption of Cogstate solutions to optimize the measurement of cognition and other clinical outcome assessments in pharmaceutical clinical trials.
Ken manages the global sales organization at Cogstate and brings a 30-year track record leading high-performing commercial teams across eClinical, healthcare and technology businesses. Under Ken’s leadership, Cogstate delivers a consultative and customer-focused sales culture based on accountability, integrity, trust and value.
Prior to joining Cogstate, Ken served as Vice President of Business Development and Global Strategic Partnerships at CRF Health (now part of Signant Health), and has held various global leadership roles with invivodata, McKessonHBOC, and CB Technologies.
Rachel is responsible for setting the strategic direction and management for the development, commercialization and operational delivery of Cogstate’s market-leading remote cognitive assessment capabilities supportive of decentralized clinical trials. Rachel has been with Cogstate for 6 years holding positions of increasing responsibility, and she brings more than 15 years of contract research organization experience to her role, including positions at ICON plc (Nasdaq: ICLR) across corporate marketing and early- and late-phase development groups.
Kristi Geddes is Cogstate’s General Counsel and Company Secretary. In this role, Kristi acts as principal counsel and advisor to senior leadership and the Board of Directors. She has global responsibility for the company’s legal, contracting, governance and compliance activities.
Prior to joining Cogstate, Kristi was Special Counsel in MinterEllison’s Health and Life Sciences team, with a practice focused on the research, life sciences and biotechnology sector, and was previously In House Counsel at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. She has 20 years’ legal experience in private practice and in-house roles, and has undergraduate and post graduate qualifications across law, health and psychological science.
Sara Giesen is the Chief People Officer for Cogstate, responsible for setting the People Strategy, leading the global HR team, building a high performing organization and an inclusive collaborative culture where people and results thrive. Sara is a leader in organisation transformation and brings a sharp customer and external focus to the business, finding creative ways to solve problems and unlock potential. Sara is passionate about putting the human in Human Resources and building forward thinking ways of working.
With over 25 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical and automotive sectors, Sara is a strategic leader with deep expertise in all facets of human resources and a strong track record of execution. She is recognised for her collaborative approach in working with stakeholders to deliver ambitious outcomes at local, regional and global levels.
Sara holds an Masters of Business – Human Resources from Swinburne University and is an accredited Executive coach.
Kate Jopling is Vice President of Operations for Clinical Trials at Cogstate. She has led the global Clinical Trials Operations division since 2014. In her role, Kate sets the strategic direction for delivery of products and services aimed at helping pharmaceutical clinical trials sponsors, CROs, and sites optimize the measurement of cognition with eClinical technologies and customized solutions.
Kate has more than 15 years of clinical research experience. Having worked in many types of organizations, she brings a diverse perspective to the team and hands-on experience in various industry settings. These include positions at clinical study sites, sponsor, CRO and niche service providers, with companies including Lifespan Health System, Pfizer, and BLCPro. She joined Cogstate in 2009 with prior roles in project management, data management, and product management. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Neurobiology from the University of Connecticut.
Brad O’Connor has been Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Cogstate Limited since December 2005. He has responsibility for Cogstate’s overall strategic direction and day-to-day operations as well as development of expansion opportunities outside of the core clinical trials business.
Prior to taking the position of CEO at Cogstate, Mr O’Connor joined Cogstate as Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary in May 2004. Prior to that, he held senior positions at Spherion Group, Australian Wine Exchange and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Mr O’Connor is a chartered accountant who holds a Bachelor of Business degree.
Other directorships and interests:
Dr. Ventola is Chief Science Officer at Cogstate and Assistant Professor at the Yale Child Study Center. Dr. Ventola leads Cogstate’s science team and the pediatric and rare diseases portfolio, providing Cogstate customers with strategic oversight and expert guidance throughout all stages of their study planning and execution – from endpoint selection, rater training and strategic monitoring to final statistical analysis.
As a licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Ventola’s primary clinical expertise is in pediatric neuropsychology and specifically developmental and genetic disorders. Her research interests involve developmental disabilities, and among her recent research is a study on brain-based mechanisms of treatment response in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She is also utilizing eye-tracking paradigms as a novel outcome of clinical trials in ASD and is involved in studies on novel pharmacological therapeutics in individuals with ASD.
Dr. Ventola received her Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology from University of Connecticut and completed her clinical training and Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Yale University School of Medicine, Child Study Center. She serves on the editorial review board of multiple academic journals. Specifically, she serves as a reviewer for the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Journal of the American Academy Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Clinical Psychology Review, and the Autism International Journal of Research and Practice. Dr. Ventola has authored numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters and scientific presentations.
Darren Watson is Chief Financial Officer for Cogstate, responsible for the company’s financial strategy, driving business growth and ensuring proper governance and compliance. Mr. Watson leads all aspects of finance operations globally including corporate accounting, financial planning and analysis, internal audit, tax, insurance, and procurement. Mr. Watson is an experienced business executive with over 20 years working in the technology sector across a number of international locations.
Prior to joining Cogstate, Mr. Watson held roles at IBM across finance, operations and strategy roles, most recently as Chief Operating Officer, IBM A/NZ Global Technology Services. His most recent role followed stints in Shanghai, China working in strategy for the IBM Growth Markets Head Office, then in Singapore as the CFO for the IBM GTS Asia Pacific business covering A/NZ, ASEAN, India/South Asia, China and South Korea.
Mr. Watson graduated from Bendigo College of Advanced Education with a Bachelor of Business before joining KPMG and completing his Chartered Accountant qualification.
Dr. Bruce Albala joined the University of California Irvine (UCI), School of Medicine (SOM) in December 2019 as the Associate Dean of Innovation and Clinical Trials with an appointment as a Professor in Neurology. He serves as a Director in the Center for Clinical Research (CCR) which is responsible for oversight and implementation of clinical trials within UCI SOM. He has extensive experience in both basic and clinical medical research.
Previous work experience includes Executive Director of Clinical Development at Eisai Inc., where he was the International Project Team Leader (IPTL) and Clinical Leader for one of the global AD treatment programs exploring disease modification therapies. As IPTL he guided both the internal and external pre-clinical work as well as being directly responsible for all clinical activities as Clinical Leader on the global level. Prior to that he was the Vice President of Clinical Development and Head of the CNS Program at Shionogi USA. In this role, the global programs that Dr. Albala was responsible for included Alzheimer’s disease (AD), ataxias, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, Parkinson’s disease and a large program in obesity and another in analgesia complications.
Dr. Albala has made numerous presentations at scientific meetings and has scientific publications in both the basic and clinical sciences and has taught courses in the biological, psychological, pharmacological and neurosciences at Syracuse University, Hunter College (City University of New York) and Cooper Union and has lectured on many industry topics. Dr. Albala has U.S. patents for both medical devices as well as instruments used in clinical research settings.
Dr. Adam Brickman is a Professor of Neuropsychology at Columbia University Department of Neurology, the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain and the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center.
Dr. Brickman is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society and Neuropsychology Review. Dr. Brickman uses advanced neuroimaging techniques to understand cognitive aging and dementia. He is particularly interested in white matter abnormalities and the intersection between vascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Brickman completed his undergraduate training in neuroscience and psychology at Oberlin College, his doctoral work in neuropsychology at City University of New York, his clinical/research internship at Brown Medical School, and post-doctoral training in neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University.
Dr. Sharon Cohen is a behavioral neurologist and the medical director of Toronto Memory Program, a community-based medical facility which she established in 1996 for the purpose of enhancing diagnosis and treatment for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. Her memory clinic and dementia research site are among the most active in Canada.
Dr. Cohen has over 28 years of experience in clinical research and has been a site PI for over 180 pharmacological trials. She represents Canada on international advisory boards and steering committees and is a consultant to a wide range of stakeholders including government organizations and patient advocacy groups. She is a frequent lecturer and contributes to media events including those on medical ethics. She is known for her advocacy of individuals with neurodegenerative diseases.
Despite holding academic and hospital appointments, Dr. Cohen chooses to practice in the community, in keeping with her belief that dementia care and clinical research are best offered in the real-world setting.
Prof. Craig Ritchie is a Professor of Psychiatry of Ageing at the University of Edinburgh, Director of Edinburgh Centre for Dementia Prevention, and Director of Brain Health Scotland. In 2018, he was elected Chair of Scottish Dementia Research Consortium (SDRC), a network of dementia researchers, policy makers and people living with dementia from across Scotland. He has driven forward on his commitment to promote and grow that consortium to assist Scotland and Scottish Based Researchers from all over the world to achieve its objectives and theirs. His primary research interest is the maintenance of brain health in mid-life to mitigate the risks of initiation and progression of degenerative brain disease that may lead to dementia.
He is leading the PREVENT project; a major initiative nationally which will identify mid-life risks for later life dementia and characterise early changes of neurodegenerative disease through imaging, genetic, cognitive and biomarker analyses.
He also leads the EPAD (European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia) Consortium which is an IMI funded, 5-year grant application to establish a Pan-European network of Trial Delivery Centers with supporting infrastructure to undertake a perpetual, Proof of Concept multi-arm trial secondary trial for secondary prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia.
Dr. Kate Papp is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. She works as a Clinical Neuropsychologist in the Department of Neurology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Massachusetts General Hospital.
She serves as the Neuropsychologist for the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (MADRC). She is also the Co-Leader of the Outcomes Core for the Alzheimer’s Association U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk (U.S. POINTER) and a member of the Cognitive Outcome Instrument Unit of the Alzheimer’s Clinical Trial Consortium (ACTC).
She is an investigator in the Clinical Core of the Harvard Aging Brain Study, a longitudinal cohort study of normal older adults with annual cognitive testing in addition to multimodal neuroimaging (including amyloid and tau PET). Her work focuses on refining and optimizing cognitive composites to assess cognitive decline and development and validation of digital measures of cognition for the preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Siemers’ experience in clinical trials of neurodegenerative disease spans over 25 years, with a research focus on the use of biomarkers in investigational drug research, the development of trial designs that fully characterize the effects of investigational drugs on chronic diseases, and more specifically, the development of strategies for treating individuals before the onset of symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Siemers most recently served as Distinguished Medical Fellow for Eli Lilly and Company’s Alzheimer’s Disease Global Development Team, where he was responsible for the design and implementation of 5 large phase III clinical studies of AD sponsored by Lilly, in addition to playing a major collaborative role in 2 public-private partnership studies. Prior to his appointments at Lilly, Dr. Siemers founded and headed the Indiana University Movement Disorder Clinic; his research there included investigations of Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease, and he established one of the first centers for surgical PD treatments in the US.
Dr. Siemers is a member of the NIA/Alzheimer’s Association working group that will evaluate biomarkers and clinical symptoms in the nomenclature used for research of the entire Alzheimer’s disease continuum, and was previously a member of the working group that proposed criteria for preclinical Alzheimer’s disease in 2011. He also served on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Experimental Neurotherapeutics, as founding member and Chair of the Alzheimer’s Association Research Roundtable, and Steering Committee member for the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). Dr. Siemers earned his MD with highest distinction from the Indiana University School of Medicine, where he completed an internship in the Department of Internal Medicine and residency in the Department of Neurology.
Dr. Sietske Sikkes is an associate professor at the Department of Clinical, Neuro and Developmental Psychology at the VU University and the Alzheimer Center Amsterdam of the Amsterdam University Medical Center.
Her main mission is to find optimal measurement methods for cognition, everyday functioning and behavior in neurodegenerative disorders, both as early diagnostic markers and markers for disease progression. She has made use of her background in clinical neuropsychology and epidemiology to study this in Alzheimer’s disease (AD)¸ with main research themes focusing on the early detection of functional and cognitive decline, clinical outcome measures, diversity in measurement and non-pharmacological interventions, with a focus on prevention.
Cogstate acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians of the lands where many of our team members live and work. We pay respect to their Elders past and present.