Clinical Research Computing Unit

Leadership & Staff

Leadership & Staff

J. Richard Landis, PhD
CRCU Faculty Director

Dr. Landis is Director of the Research Methods Core and Co-Investigator in the Informatics Core in Penn’s CTSA-Hub (2016-21). He serves as Principal Investigator of the DCC for NIDDK’s “Multidisciplinary Approach to Pelvic Pain (MAPP) Research Network” (2008-19) (, having previously served as PI of the DCCs for NIDDK’s Urologic Pelvic Pain Collaborative Research Networks (CPCRN, ICCTG, CPCRN-2, ICCRN) that conducted 9 RCTs (1998-2008). Within renal research, he also serves as Co-PI (with Dr. Feldman, PI) of the Scientific and Data Coordinating Center (SDCC) for NIDDK’s “Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) Research Network” (2001-18) (, MPI (with Dr. Dember, MPI) for NIDDK’s “Data Coordinating Center for Hemodialysis Pilot Studies Consortium” (2013-18), and Co-Investigator (with Dr. Dember) for the “Pragmatic Trials in Maintenance Hemodialysis” (2012-17).

Denise Cifelli, MS
Director, Project Operations and Compliance (POCO)

Ms. Cifelli is responsible for the overall leadership for the Project Operations and Compliance division (POCO). She provides senior leadership for the POCO staff in their conduct of activities across all CRCU projects. Ms. Cifelli has experience managing data coordinating center (DCC) projects across many domains. She has guided the DCC operations of the CRCU for the following projects: PCORI sponsored A Practical Intervention to Improve Patient-centered Outcomes after Hip Fracture Surgery (REGAIN), NIDDK sponsored Time to Reduce Mortality in End-Stage Renal Disease (TiME) Trial, NIDDK sponsored The Hemodialysis Novel Therapies Consortium (HDNT), NHLBI sponsored Prematurity and Respiratory Outcomes Program (PROP), NHLBI sponsored Clarification of Optimal Anticoagulation Through Genetics (COAG), NIA sponsored The Testosterone Trial (T. Trial), U. Penn NIH Roadmap contract, NHLBI sponsored Childhood Adenotonsillectomy Trial (CHAT), NIDDK sponsored Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) Study, NIDDK sponsored Interstitial Cystitis Clinical Trials Group (ICCTG), NIDDK sponsored Chronic Prostatitis Collaborative Research Network (CPCRN) and the NIDDK sponsored Urologic Pelvic Pain Collaborative Research Network (UPPCRN).

eMail Ms. Cifelli:

Stephen Durborow, BS
Director, Research Technologies & Research Development & Internal Operations QA (RT, RDQA)

Mr. Durborow is responsible for the overall leadership for the Software Systems Division (SSD) and the Database Services Division (DSD). He provides senior leadership for two divisional technical directors, who lead the software and database design and development activities across all CRCU projects. Mr. Durborow has over 25 years of experience performing and managing software development, database design, and database administration, focusing the last 15 on clinical research. Mr. Durborow is responsible for the implementation of technologies new to the CRCU, like Oracle Clinical, in support of the NIH Roadmap and other CRCU projects.

eMail Mr. Durborow:

Christopher Helker, RN, MSPH
Director, Clinical Data Management (CDM)

Mr. Helker is responsible for the overall leadership of Clinical Data Management (CDM) within the CRCU. In this role, he provides senior leadership for the CDM staff, in their conduct of data management and quality assurance procedures across the broad array of funded projects within the CRCU. Prior to joining the CRCU in 2000, he served as Coordinator for the AIDS Clinical Trials Unit at The University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Helker is a Certified Clinical Data Manager (CCDM) and a Registered Nurse (RN), licensed within the State of Pennsylvania.

eMail Mr. Helker:

Nancy Robinson-Garvin, PhD
Senior Research Investigator

Dr. Robinson is a Senior Research Investigator within the CRCU of the CCEB. Over the past 15 years, she has managed several Data Coordinating Core (DCC) projects for multi-center clinical trials and observational studies. Dr. Robinson supports project teams in their design and implementation of new projects as well as provides leadership for project team coordination, setting milestones and monitoring progress, as well as leading multi-faceted communications among investigators and teams.

eMail Dr. Robinson-Garvin:

Project Operations and Compliance (POCO)
Clinical Data Management (CDM)
Research Technologies
  • Dina H. Appleby, MS - Senior Informatics Analyst 
  • Shawn E. Ballard, MS - Technical Director, Software Systems
    • Traci Chai, MS - Software Development Engineer
    • Raymond Hilderbrand, MBA, MS - Senior Applications Designer/Developer
    • Alexander Makarov, BS - Senior Software Developer
  • Massimo Bigliardo, MS - Technical Director, Database Services
    • Nate Croston, MS - Senior Database Administrator
Research Development and Internal Operations QA (RDQA)
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About CRCU

The CRCU provides expertise in project management, data coordination and research computing tailored to meet your project requirements.