iResearch Atlanta

Who We Are

iResearch Atlanta

is a multi-specialty clinical research center, located in Downtown Decatur, just one block from MARTA. We offer a beautiful, comfortable environment for our study volunteers, patients and caregivers.  We are dedicated to making a difference in our local and global community through the study of new medications for mental health and medical illnesses affecting our community.

Built by dedicated, experienced research professionals; our core team has extensive experience in pharmaceutical and medical device research. Committed to improving the quality of life for individuals in our area, we offer expertise across a wide range of therapeutic areas.

Heather Beitz

Chief Executive Officer and Clinical Operations Director

Prior to co-founding iResearch Atlanta in 2010, Ms. Beitz has experience in both the pharmaceutical and medical device industry and more extensively the investigator site side of clinical research. At a mid-size medical device company she served as the Senior Director of Research for the US and Asia Pacific and then at a large healthcare and consumer product company, as the Director of Global Clinical Affairs.

Prior to her industry experience, Ms. Beitz spent more than 10 years at a large Phase I-IV investigator site. There she held nearly every position, from clinical research coordinator, to rater, to site director and business development. Prior to her departure, she served as Vice President/COO. During her tenure, Ms. Beitz managed the 24/7, 40-bed, in-patient unit and out-patient clinic with over 75 employees.

Ms. Beitz earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Armstrong University and her Masters of Education from the University of South Carolina. She is published in the field of micro-organisms, anti-bacterials and surgical scrubs.

Sara Castle

Chief Operations Officer

Prior to co-founding iResearch Atlanta, Ms. Castle spent most of her career as a clinical research consultant, living in New England and working for Biotech and Pharmaceutical companies. There she focused on implementing new electronic data capture (EDC) tools and educating users and new research personnel on ICH, GCP compliance and CFR guidelines.

In 2004, Ms. Castle earned her Certificate of Clinical Trials Management through Boston University. She then co-founded a consulting company focused on providing regulatory and training services to investigator sites and pharmaceutical companies. The training services assisted investigator sites in streamlining staff activities and moving from paper-based to computer-based processes and templates. The regulatory services enabled pharmaceutical companies to eliminate bottle-neck activities at investigator sites and expedited study start.

Core Clinical Team

iResearch Atlanta has assembled a team of highly experienced practitioners. Click the image of each clinician for an abbreviated bio. Full CVs are available upon request.

Register here to request full CVs and investigative experience.

Kimball A. Johnson, M.D.

Kimball Johnson, MD, is a board-certified Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, and previously a Certified HIV Specialist by the American Academy of HIV Medicine.

She also earned board certification by the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine. A 1987 cum laude graduate of Emory University School of Medicine, Johnson holds a Bachelor of Science in physical education from Taylor University, where she studied exercise physiology and biomechanics. She began her medical career after college as a paramedic at Grady Memorial Hospital, where she gained priceless experience in patient care.

Johnson is a Diplomate of the American College of Physicians and the American Society of Internal Medicine. She has participated in numerous professional medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the Southern Medical Association, the Medical Association of Georgia, the American Medical Women’s Association, the AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the American Academy of HIV medicine.

Johnson was involved in the HIV pandemic from the very beginning. She was a trailblazer in the HIV medical community at the onset of the US epidemic through its peak in Atlanta and was involved in the original AZT and DDI clinical trials, which was just the beginning of research trials for Dr. Johnson. Johnson went on to serve as a Sub-Investigator with Aids Research Consortium (ARCA) on multiple HIV trials.

She was in private practice in Internal Medicine, Integrative & Holistic Medicine & HIV medicine for over 30 years. A unique blend that offered "more tools in her toolbox" that could offer more options and solutions for her patients. This and her empathy, passion, and non-judgmental nature drew patients from all over the world to see her.

Since then Johnson has always been intrigued by infectious disease clinical trials, and when other physicians run away, she runs towards the disease. She has served on Rare Disease and Infections, and other clinical trials full time since 2009 as the Medical Director of iResearch Atlanta.

Together iResearch Atlanta and Dr. Kimball Johnson have worked on over 300 clinical trials together and have randomized over 10,000 patients into clinical trials for various disease states in Phase I-IV.

Johnson was certified as a CrossFit Level 1 (CF-L1) Trainer. She was a team physician for the American College of Sports Medicine and served as a physician for the 1995 Ironman Triathlon World Championship. She was physician coordinator for the Peachtree Road Race medical team from 1997-2007, and was a volunteer physician for the U.S. Olympic Training Center in 1999. Her other interests are dogs, dogs, and more dogs.

She is currently the Medical Director of iResearch Atlanta, iResearch Savannah & iAM Health & Wellness, a non-profit clinic that treats patients who currently have no healthcare until they can find a permanent clinic or doctor to manage their care.

She also serves as a Principal Investigator in multiple clinical trials including COVID19 studies.



Eric A. Awad, M.D.

Dr. Eric Awad, Diplomat, American Board of Neurology. Dr. Awad is a neurologist at NeuroCare Center of Atlanta, since its establishment in December 2000. Dr. Awad is certified by the American Board of Neurology. Since 1988 Dr. Awad has been in the Atlanta area, he completed his internship, residency and fellowship at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta; and has been practicing neurology at Piedmont Hospital since 1993. Dr. Awad’s private practice, NeuroCare Center of Atlanta, is equipped with electrophysiology (EMG and EEG), cerebrovascular ultrasound, complete cognitive assessment programs, and full infusion center that is equipped with the state of art equipment and staff to administer medications intravenously: IVIg, multiple sclerosis monoclonal antibodies, ALS monoclonal antibodies etc.

Dr. Awad has been involved in clinical trials since residency and throughout his career in many therapeutic areas including lupus, Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, stroke, epilepsy, migraine, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, seizure, and more.

Simone Whitmore, M.D.

Dr. Simone Whitmore was born and raised in Nashville, TN. She graduated from Spelman College with a degree in biology/pre-medicine and earned her doctorate from East Tennessee State University, Quillen College of Medicine. Dr. Whitmore completed her residency at Boston Medical Center in 1997 and became a Board Certified OBGYN in 1999. Dr. Whitmore is a sought-after speaker on women's health issues and has owned North Perimeter OBGYN since 2004 as a solo practitioner. Dr. Whitmore has been practicing in the Atlanta area since 1999 with admitting privileges to Northslde Hospital. The scope of her practice includes high risk pregnancies, infertility counseling, treatment for fibroids, adolescent medicine, contraceptive management, menopausal treatment and alternative options. Dr. Whitmore has excellent bedside manners and is attentive to the needs of her patients.

Dr. Whitmore has been involved in clinical trials since residency and throughout her career in many therapeutic areas including vaginitis, oral contraception, uterine fibroids, and intrauterine bleeding.

Gayle L. Goldstein, M.D.

Dr. Goldstein is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and currently serves as the Chief of Ophthalmology at Dekalb Medical Center. She has been in private practice since 2001, and has been participating in research since residency. Dr Goldstein is trained in disciplines of comprehensive ophthalmology, she specializes in implementing the latest technology in cataract surgery. Dr. Goldstein recently moved her private practice to the building directly next to iResearch Atlanta to expand more into research by partnering with iResearch Atlanta.

As a comprehensive ophthalmologist, Dr. Goldstein treats patients with diabetes, glaucoma, LASIK, dry eye, blepharitis, and other eyelid disorders.

Jessica C. McCoun, M.D.

Dr. McCoun is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Dr. McCoun completed her residency at the University of Florida in 2011. She has training in both single injection as well as continuous catheters.

Saundra A. Maass-Robinson, M.D.

Dr. Maass-Robinson is a board-certified psychiatrist with extensive experience in outpatient clinics, detention centers, and inpatient units. She brings a wealth of experience and a unique perspective to our research team; her research interests include the treatment of Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Attention Disorders, Psychotic Disorders (e.g., Trichotillomania, Bipolar disorder, Major Depression and Treatment Resistant Depression, Postpartum Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Schizophrenia). She earned her undergraduate degree from Michigan State University, her master’s degree in political science from Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA, graduated Medical School from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and completed her residency in psychiatry at Emory University School of Medicine. She was awarded “Psychiatrist of the Year” in 1997 by the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association (GPPA).

Mary Burns, M.D.

Mary Burns is a psychiatrist at Skyland Trail and a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Emory University. She has a particular interest in adolescent and young adult issues.

Burns is a member of the American Psychiatric Association, the Georgia Psychiatric Association, and the Atlanta Women’s Medical Alliance. Since 2000, Burns has been the governor-appointed Chairwoman of the Board of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

Burns received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of the South and a medical degree from Mercer University School of Medicine. She was a resident in psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine and a fellow in child psychiatry at Harvard University School of Medicine. Active in the community, Burns volunteers with the Cathedral of St. Philip, Pace Academy, and the Northside Youth Organization.

Clinical Team

Rebecca Hilliard, NP, Sub-I, Rater

Allison Coburn, NP, Sub-I, Rater

Ashley Cohen, PA, Sub-I, Rater

Office Team

iResearch Atlanta has assembled a team of professional and friendly people to assist you every step of the way.

Zach Mitchell

Director of Business Operations

Amanda Goza

Internal Consultant

Lori Dilks

Financial Controller

Abel Beck

Clinical Research Coordinator II

Stacy Saunders

Laboratory Coordinator I

Aleha Rhodes


Chloe Jones

Recruitment Specialist I

Mia Brown

Research Assistant

Jenny Patton

IP & Laboratory Lead

Maria Ambrosetti

Site Regulatory / QA

Stephanie Hockenberry

Consultant in Compliance

Rachel Shear

Accounting Admin

Katie Prowse

Recruitment Lead

Sabrina Maxwell

Data Coordinator I

Sonya Edelstein


Rachel Barber

Community Outreach Specialist

Monica Mahathre

Compliance Coordinator

Sharie Douglas

Research Assistant

Sarah Harrison

Laboratory Coordinator I

Casey Chacona

Lead, Screening Team

Jessica Certain

Research Nurse

April Ledom

HR Director