Our Team

The Merkle Life Sciences leadership team has vast experience in healthcare and pharmaceutical organizations, encompassing multiple therapeutic categories, coupled with client, agency, and research backgrounds. Our teams are comprised of seasoned industry executives with track records in integrated healthcare marketing who understand client challenges as well as opportunities. We also recognize the culture, the shift toward customer centricity, and the challenges in engaging and communicating with healthcare providers and prospects around the pharmaceutical industry. Merkle’s “Customer Centric” value proposition has been growing in the healthcare industry over the last 40 months as we have infused 20+ years of direct-to-consumer best practices from outside of the healthcare vertical, coupled with our team’s deep healthcare knowledge.

Owen McCorry

Owen McCorry

Senior Vice President and Business Leader, Life Sciences

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Owen leads Merkle's vertical market practices for Life Sciences. He is responsible for development of marketing solutions for existing clients, growth, and profitability of the business and the continued application of Merkle's core value proposition to the challenges and opportunities within Life Sciences. Owen has more than 20 years of experience working across multiple industries, including Life Sciences, Hi-Tech, B2B, Finance, Insurance, Publishing, and Retail. He is focused on the delivery of digital agency services, marketing technology, analytic services, management consulting, and building world-class teams.

Prior to joining Merkle in 2008, Owen was President of Acquisition Services at ALC, helping clients increase profitability through the innovative gathering, enhancement, and integration of marketing data. In addition, Owen started his career in strategic marketing solutions with D&B, holding various sales and management roles.           

Owen holds a B.S. in accounting from Fordham University and lives in Skillman, NJ.

Deb Furey

Deb Furey

Senior Vice President, Life Sciences Strategy

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Deb has more than 15 years of experience working with FT500 companies to drive growth through innovative customer relationship strategies. Deb is responsible for healthcare client management, strategy and solution integration and has significant experience working with top pharmaceuticals and biotechs on professional and consumer marketing with companies such as Merck, Boehringer-Inglelheim, Sanofi-Aventis, Shire, Abbott, Roche Diagnostics, Medco Health, Aetna, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Pfizer.

Prior to joining Merkle, Deb was a Managing Partner leading Fair Isaac’s Pharmaceutical Marketing Practice where she oversaw strategy, execution, sales and client management for Consumer and Physician direct marketing programs. Deb has an Ed.M. in human cognitive development and educational media from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.S. from University of Massachusetts.


Annemarie Armstrong

Annemarie Armstrong

VP Client Partner, Life Sciences

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With 25 years of healthcare marketing experience across pharmaceuticals, hospitals/healthcare systems, and healthcare technologies, Annemarie has a deep understanding of the challenges facing healthcare and pharmaceutical marketers today. Annemarie is responsible for leading Merkle client teams to drive CRM strategy and planning and delivering on the value of Merkle’s consulting, analytical, and digital capabilities. A veteran healthcare marketer, Annemarie has been the driving force behind compelling brand strategies and product launches ranging from pharmacologic therapies, to diagnostic imaging, to medical devices.

She joined Merkle from Publicis Healthcare Communications Group where she was SVP Integrated Agency Team Leader leading an integrated multi-agency team across all disciplines (professional, consumer, digital, PR, medical education, and payer), and across all channels and geographies. Previously with Publicis Healthcare, Annemarie was Managing Director at Saatchi & Saatchi Science, a marketing communications agency specializing in complex and challenging categories. She led the agency team working on physician and consumer engagement assignments and global launches for Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sanofi, and Merck.

A graduate of Temple University, Annemarie is currently a board member of Living Beyond Breast Cancer, a national education and support organization dedicated to helping women diagnosed with breast cancer. She is also an advisory board member of the Greater Philadelphia chapter of the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association.

Karen Carr

Karen Carr

Vice President, Associate Client Partner

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Karen has more than 20 years of healthcare, pharmaceutical, and payer marketing experience and has held roles of increasing responsibility in client service, strategy, business development, and general agency management with some of the leading marketing agencies and consulting firms in the world. These have included imc2 Health & Wellness, iCrossing, Peppers and Rogers Group, Rosetta, and Hill and Knowlton.

A veteran consultant and agency services professional, Karen leads multi-discipline Merkle teams in the strategic planning, execution, and measurement of digital and cross-channel customer relationship marketing initiatives aimed at helping brands build more profitable, sustainable relationships with their customers. She draws on her experience leading literally hundreds of client organizations and brand teams through the continual evolution of integrated, cross-channel marketing for blockbuster products such as Lipitor and Cymbalta and orphan drugs targeting niche patient and specialist physician populations. At the heart of her philosophy is an unwavering commitment to creating relevant, engaging experiences that drive business impact for clients and measurable health outcomes for patients and their caregivers. 

Karen has been a frequent speaker and authored numerous articles with leading pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing trade publications and conferences. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. degree in French and English from the University of Pittsburgh. 


Michael Salpas

Michael Salpas

Senior Director, Client Leadership Group, Life Sciences

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Mike has 15 years of pharmaceutical and biotech marketing experience spread across hospital, specialty, and office-based product markets. Mike leads the account management capability of Life Sciences as well as providing client leadership and strategic support.

From a consulting perspective, Mike has worked with various clients to implement marketing services spanning strategy and analytics through tactical planning and measurement activities. Core areas include CRM marketing, sales force optimization, physician/payer research, customer segmentation, portfolio optimization and marketing mix, alignments, and targeting/call planning services.

Ashish Kathuria

Ashish Kathuria

VP, Client Leadership Group, Life Sciences

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Ashish has 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and management consulting. For the past three years, he has been leading Merkle’s foray into customer centricity and multi-channel marketing in the healthcare industry. He has led strategic assignments with key clients in the healthcare industry, leveraging Merkle’s core strengths: strategy, CRM/database technology, and analytics.

Prior to joining Merkle, Ashish served as a Vice President of Analytics at HPR (Health Products Research) and Sr. Vice President of Strategy and Global Alliances at inVentiv Strategy and Analytics (parent group of HPR). In that role, he advised a large range of pharmaceutical companies in the U.S., Europe and Canada on sales force size and structure, portfolio optimization, sales force mergers, market segmentation, promotion response, and incentive compensation and ROI analysis.

Ashish has published papers in pharmaceutical industry publications (e.g., Product Management Today [PMT]) and presented at industry conferences such as PMSA (Pharmaceutical Marketing Science Association) and EyeforPharma.


Croom Lawrence

Croom Lawrence

Sr. Director

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For more than 16 years, Croom has led integrated customer relationship marketing engagements that have driven growth for Fortune 500 companies, particularly for pharmaceuticals, biologics, medical device, and health food brands. He recently joined Merkle as the Customer Experience Lead in Life Sciences.

Croom is recognized as one of the pharma industry's most innovative marketers. He has helped brands at all stages achieve new trajectories in growth by identifying research-based insights, delivering breakthrough creative, changing patient behavior, and improving health outcomes through effective marketing interventions.

Croom was one of the founding members of the Strategy & Insights group at Wunderman, DC, an early member of the Consumer Communications and e-Marketing groups at Wyeth/Pfizer and Merck & Co, and the digital communications COE at Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, a pioneer in patient relationship marketing through paid, earned, owned, and shared channels. He is one of the founding members of the Health Committee of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.

He holds an MBA in marketing from the American Graduate School of International Management, and a B.A. in government and foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. 

Chris Crichton

Chris Crichton

Senior Director

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Chris is responsible for developing and leading Merkle’s mobile Life Sciences business. He is focused on developing integrated programs that move brands away from the standard one-to-one communication strategy to an approach that allows for meaningful dialogue to occur between a brand and its consumers.

Prior to 5th Finger, Chris acted as Director of Digital for BuderEngel and Friends, a San Francisco Advertising Agency. In this position Chris was able to increase digital revenue by 7x within his first six months. Chris’s past experience also includes acting as SVP, Operations of Questus, a digital agency, and Director, Digital Group of Leagas Delaney, a global advertising agency. Chris obtained a B.S. in Marketing from the University of the Pacific.


Marc Ruggiano

Marc Ruggiano

Partner

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Marc brings a wealth of cross-industry experience, and deep expertise in strategy, marketing, and technology to Merkle. Most recently, Marc was a partner at Peppers & Rogers Group, leading the management consulting firm’s healthcare practice, and driving the latest innovations in customer-based business strategy. In this capacity, Marc’s work focused on the health insurance, life sciences, and healthcare delivery verticals. Marc also co-led the strategy consulting business for the North America region, delivering marketing strategy consulting to marketing leaders like T-Mobile USA and Microsoft and automotive giants including Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Volvo and Aston Martin. 

Marc began his business career with McKinsey & Company, and has also served as a senior executive, on the client side, with two Atlanta-based public companies: John H. Harland, now an MF Global company, and ChoicePoint Inc., now a Lexis-Nexis company. His responsibilities included Strategy, Marketing, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Communications, Sales Support, Product Development, and Product Management.

Marc holds an MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia where he was a Shermet scholar, Hyde Fellow, and Raven Award winner. His emphasis in Strategy and Marketing provided the foundation for his thesis, Consumer Adoption Behavior and the Diffusion of Innovations. Marc also received a B.S. in Computer Science from the United States Naval Academy, where he rowed on the top-ranked heavyweight crew team, and participated in trials for the US Pan-Am Games Team as well as the US Olympic Festival.

Kent Groves, PhD

Kent Groves, PhD

VP, Client Leadership Group, Life Sciences

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Kent has been consulting in healthcare for more than 15 years in the areas of healthcare provider segmentation, brand channel integration, CRM, marketing analytics and direct-to-consumer. Kent is published extensively in a variety of journals including, Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, Formulary, the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, and the Journal of Database Marketing. Kent is recognized as an expert in the area of factors influencing physician prescribing, and was the author of the chapter on Prescribing Behavior in Social and Behavioral Aspects of Pharmaceutical Care, 2nd Edition, released in March, 2009.

Kent has worked with a number of clients in healthcare including Sanofi, Novartis, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Genetech, Gilead, Merck, Abbvie and GSK.

Kent has a BS from the University of Guelph, an MS from the University of Saskatchewan, and a PhD in Pharmaceutical Strategy and Policy from Dalhousie University. His PhD dissertation focused on the influence of pharmaceutical marketing strategy on physician prescribing behavior. Additionally, he was an Adjunct Professor, College of Pharmacy, Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was a former Professor of Marketing at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, and holds the designation of Chartered Chemist.


Rita Stevens

Rita Stevens

Sr. Director, Enterprise Strategy

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Rita joined Merkle in 2009 with more than10 years experience in pharmaceutical insight mining and strategic development. Prior to joining Merkle, Rita held senior positions in the Business Insights and Commercial Analytics organizations at Endo Pharmaceuticals, a smaller specialty pharmaceutical company and at GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceuticals. In both companies, Rita worked directly with the marketing and sales organizations as well as the broad commercial operations group.

Rita has experience in strategy and promotion development for brands ranging from billion-dollar assets with broad direct-to-consumer programs to under 100-million-dollar assets with smaller budgeted promotional efforts. She has worked on 7 product launches in her pharmaceutical career.

Rita has a BA in Mathematical Economics and a MA in Economics.

Chuck Ott

Chuck Ott

Vice President, Vertical Solutions Lead

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Chuck brings over 22 years of technology and CRM experience to his role as Vertical Solution Lead in the TM&E practice at Merkle. In this role,  he has been responsible for managing technology solution development, operational support and consulting around Merkle’s TM&E solutions. He has led solutions for companies such as ESPN, Group RCI, Disney and DirectV. Prior to joining Merkle, Chuck the Content Discovery and eCompliance sales lead for IBM’s eastern Americas and federal regions. 

Prior to IBM, Chuck ran consulting, technical support and training as Vice President of Professional Services for iPhrase Technologies, a search and content classification technology company, and Revenio Inc, a marketing automation tool company. Chuck also held multiple positions at Tessera Enterprise Systems, where he architected and built CRM systems for companies such as Dell, Eddie Bauer, Columbia House and Land’s End.

Chuck holds a BS degree in Computer Science from Lehigh University.


Brett McTammany

Brett McTammany

Senior Director, Technology Solutions Group, Life Sciences

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Brett has over 20 years of CRM/database marketing experience. For the past four years at Merkle, he’s led several successful delivery engagements, including Amgen Pharmaceutical, Boehringer-Inglelheim, Sanofi-Aventis, and Thermo Fisher Scientific, along with Dell’s global consumer solutions, and has been instrumental in operationalizing the Life Sciences technical solution practice.

Prior to joining Merkle, Brett was a seasoned CRM delivery professional, delivering both marketing technology roadmaps and innovative solutions across multiple industries. Representative clients included American Express, Dell, Eddie Bauer, Fidelity Investments, Johnson & Johnson, Travelers Insurance, UBS/Swiss Bank, and Williams-Sonoma.

Brett holds a B.S. degree in Computer information Science from the University of North Florida.

Dana Goldstein

Dana Goldstein

Director, Marketing Program Management, Life Sciences

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Dana is a seasoned Account Director in the Life Sciences vertical with over 18 years of experience in healthcare and the last 12 years focusing exclusively on the pharmaceutical industry. Dana has been integral in establishing and expanding relationships for our largest Life Sciences engagements at Merkle, including Sanofi and AbbVie. Her CRM experience spans many of the top pharmaceutical companies and includes both healthcare professional and consumer engagements.

Dana joined Merkle in 2010 from Harte-Hanks, where she performed a similar role for clients including AstraZeneca, Pfizer/Wyeth, Allergan, and MedImmune. In addition to her CRM engagements, Dana led her agency to win an HCP Agency of Record account for a large hormone franchise. As the lead on several accounts, her teams won multiple advertising prizes, including M&M, M&M Gold, and Benny Awards. Prior to Harte-Hanks, Dana spent several years in pharmaceutical advertising and as a CME Consultant.

Dana is a former Physical Therapist and spent six years working across the healthcare industry treating a wide variety of patient types. She holds an M.S. degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Miami and a B.A. in Psychology from Lehigh University.


Gary Kagawa

Gary Kagawa

Director, Digital Media, Life Sciences

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Gary has over 20 years of direct response and general advertising experience across numerous industries. But he developed a passion for healthcare and has supported both professional and consumer assignments for clients such as Astra Zeneca, Merck, Sanofi, Pfizer, Novo Nordisk, and Boehringer Ingelheim. He comes to Merkle as a Director of Digital Strategy to continue to focus on businesses in the Life Science vertical and provide support and leadership across different accounts.

He has worked at a number of leading agencies and media companies. He was last at Publicis Healthcare Communications Group where, at Saatchi & Saatchi Health and Wellness, he served as an Engagement Strategist, and at Cortex as the Director of Channel Planning for a corporate relationship marketing team. He has also been a participating member of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) and lectured at Columbia University. And, he has been honored as a top 10 B2B Media Strategist.

Gary holds a multi-disciplinary degree in French Studies (French language and Political Science) from Carleton College.

Tom Sailer

Tom Sailer

Director, Strategy, Life Sciences

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Tom brings extensive healthcare marketing experience to Merkle. He has a clear vision of the pharmaceutical industry and a strong understanding of global planning, branding, and marketing across major regions.

While working at some of the largest multinational advertising/medical education/branding agencies (e.g., CorbettAccel, Grey, Havas, and Ogilvy), Tom led his teams to develop and implement strategic multi-channel, innovative, and cost effective solutions designed to maximize ROI. His expertise ranges from multi-therapeutic high science to over-the-counter launches, as well as in-line brand experience. 

Tom has designed, coordinated, and executed advertising, medical education, managed markets, and PR campaigns across 36 global markets. These campaigns were for a wide array of therapeutic categories, including infectious disease, pain, endocrinology, cardiology, oncology, ophthalmology, and more for Pfizer, Merck, AbbVie, Bausch & Lomb, Lilly, and others.

Tom earned his MFA degree from New York University.