Our Staff
Ivana Gunderson - Director

Ivana graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 2009 with a major in psychology and a minor in biology. Ivana started her career as a scribe in Dr. Berger’s clinical practice in 2009 with plans of going to medical school. After a short time, she joined Dr. Berger’s research team as a clinical research coordinator and changed career paths to stay in medical research. She excelled as a coordinator and was promoted to director in 2015. Ivana founded her own clinical research office in 2021 and is continuing her role as director.  Ivana has participated in over a hundred clinical trials, has extensive experience in contract and budgets execution, regulatory, finance and all other aspects of clinical trial management at the site level. Ivana trained and hired our current team and is proud to work with such a great group of people. She is married to Patrick Gunderson and has two wonderful children, Anabella & William. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, exercising and spending time with her family.

Yong Ren - Research Photographer

With 12 years of clinical training and experience in ophthalmology in anterior and posterior segments as well as orbit in China, Yong completed a four year postdoctoral research at the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, UTMB, Galveston, Texas from 2002 to 2006. He also received a Master of Medical Science (Neuroscience) degree in 2004 at UTMB. He joined Dr. Berger’s private clinical practice and research team in 2006, and is a wonderful addition to the Austin Clinical Research team. Yong is a certified retinal photographer with all major reading centers, and an ophthalmic sonographer. He enjoys working with patients and the latest technology in retinal eye care. In his spare time, Yong enjoys going for runs, biking, reading, and traveling.

Daniela Wilson - Lead Clinical Research Coordinator

Daniela Wilson joined Dr. Brian Berger’s clinical practice in 2014.  She was hired as an ophthalmic technician and quickly transitioned to a scribing position with Dr. Berger.  Over the next few years, Daniela developed many skills such as surgery scheduling, preparing and assisting with treatments, working with patient assistance programs and gained a wealth of knowledge in retinal diseases and FDA approved treatments for retinal diseases. In 2017, Daniela transitioned to a Clinical Research Coordinator position and has thrived in her role.  Daniela has extensive coordinating experience in dozens of Phase I-IV trials with pharmaceutical and government funded sponsors, is a certified BCVA examiner with most vendors and enjoys providing individualized patient care in the latest treatments for retina diseases. Daniela is married with one child (Sofia) and two pets (Tatiana, and Aries). She enjoys spending time with her family and social Latin dancing in her free time.

Valerie E. Vollano, COA - Clinical Research Coordinator

Valerie is a native of New Haven Connecticut and has lived in Texas for 5 years. She started a career as an optometric assistant in 1978 before furthering her career as an ophthalmic technician in 1981, enjoying several years in ophthalmology as not only a technician but as a surgery coordinator and becoming a certified ophthalmic assistant. In 2016, Valerie began a career in Austin as a clinical research coordinator and joined the Austin Clinical Research team in 2021. Valerie has one daughter, enjoys cooking in her free time and lives with her husband just outside of Austin.

Kaitlyn Timmons - Clinical Research Coordinator

Kaitlyn began her career as a Clinical Research Coordinator in June of 2019. She grew up in the dry plains of Lubbock, Texas, but came to the hill country of Austin to get her Bachelor of Science and Arts degree in Biochemistry and Psychology at the wonderful University of Texas, where she graduated in May of 2019. Kaitlyn has been fascinated with the biomedical sciences for as long as she can remember, and feels very fortunate to be able to work in a place where the sciences are put to use in order to preserve people’s vision – one of the greatest gifts of our lifetime. Kaitlyn also enjoys getting to know her patients individually, and dreams of going on to get her MD so that she can put her love of the biomedical sciences to use in new ways in service of her newfound community here in Austin. In her free time, Kaitlyn enjoys playing guitar, reading, and going on scenic walks with her boyfriend and dog.

Luke Heckmann - Clinical Research Coordinator

Living in Texas for most of his life, Luke attended the University of Texas where he received a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering in 2021. While attending college, he completed over two thousand hours of research on Western honey bees which culminated in a paper published in Science in 2020. He was able to entertain his own research pursuits after receiving an Undergraduate Research Fellowship and was selected as one of the 10 Outstanding UT Class of 2021 Seniors due to his research work over the course of his undergraduate career. Luke’s interests shifted to medicine and medical research after shadowing physicians and taking multiple transformative courses during his time at UT. Luke joined the Austin Clinical Research team in 2021. In his free time, he enjoys making music by playing guitar, piano, and bass. He also enjoys playing basketball and tennis, learning how to cook, and frequently visiting his siblings and nephew.

Cristina Umana was born in Queens, New York but grew up most of her life in Austin, Texas. As an unconventional student she decided to pursue her degree after having established her family with her husband, Allan Umana. Together they have 3 beautiful little girls: Mckayla, Mia and Melody. She then graduated from Texas State University in San Marcos in 2019 with a major in microbiology and a minor in biochemistry being accepted in the National Honor Society in 2019. While attending college, she completed a year of independent research studies alongside the Dean of the Microbiology department and mentor Dr. Robert McLean; studying “Gene manipulation on the CviR gene in Chromobacterium violaceum to better understand the virulent mechanisms of quorum signaling”. Cristina began her research career in 2020 working in a Clinical Research setting for Skin care products. She then decided to find a greater challenge and joined the Austin Clinical Research team in July of 2022. Her long-term passion is to oversee breastmilk research and how it can potentially one day aide in disease treatments. She loves to spend time with her family exploring all the new and upcoming activities and restaurants, and spending time with her church family as often as possible.

Bimal Nepal is an experienced ophthalmic photographer specializing in retinal diseases. He was trained in one of the Harvard University Medical School hospitals in Boston Massachusetts.  He is proficient in Fluorescein and ICG Angiography, color fundus photography, OCT & OCT-A imaging amongst other retinal diagnostic imaging.
He is experienced with all current imaging systems including Optos, Zeiss Cirrus, Clarus, Optovue Avanti, Heidelberg OCT Systems and Topcon Retinal Cameras. Bimal is certified for a wide range of retina research protocols with many reading centers. Bimal is fluent in Hindi, Nepali and conversational Spanish.
He loves photography and enjoys creating visual stories for social media.

Equipment and Facilities

ACR participates in industry and government funded clinical trials. Our investigators and staff have worked with the following sponsors:

F. Hoffmann-La Roche
Bausch & Lomb
DRCR Network
iCo Therapeutics
AiViva Biopharma
Gemini Therapeutics
4D Molecular Therapeutics

Lux Biosciences
CoMentis Inc.
Iconic Therapeutics
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Taiwanese Liposome Company
Ocuphire Pharma
Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Stealth BioTherapeutics, Inc.

VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies
Astellas Pharma
University of Virginia Ophthalmology Department
Santen Inc.
Apellis Pharmaceuticals
Daiichi Sankyo
AimMax Formosa
Iveric bio

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