Meet The Coastal Laboratories Team
Our team of dedicated lab technicians and medical professionals bring years of experience to Coastal Laboratories.
Jim Silliman M.D., Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Silliman is an Orthopedic Surgeon by training who completed his Orthopedic residency at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX. He did a fellowship in knee and sports medicine in Lake Tahoe, CA and a shoulder fellowship in Vail, CO. Dr. Silliman has held many positions since completing his education, including Orthopedic Program director at UTSW, President of the Steadman-Hawkins-Clinic in Vail, and Founder of the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas. Additionally, he held post as Executive Director of the Steadman-Hawkins Research Foundation and the Hawkins Foundation in Greenville, SC.
During his tenure as Program Medical Director of the Musculoskeletal Institute at the Greenville Health System, Dr. Silliman was responsible for building the Orthopedic, Neurosurgery and Physical Medicine Departments where he established their physical therapy and athletic training programs. Prior to leaving his post as CMIO in 2013, Dr. Silliman developed a protocol-driven outcome software which evolved to become a decision-support software for molecular diagnostic testing.
Dr. Silliman has spent the last nine years in the molecular genetic testing industry, focusing the last five years on infectious disease testing. He has also developed a patient engagement platform for personalized medicine.
David Vigerust, MS, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer
An internationally recognized expert in Virology and Immunology, Dr. Vigerust began his career 25 years ago investigating the interaction between bacterial infections and the human body. Dr. Vigerust received a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Texas at El Paso, a master’s degree in Microbiology and Immunology from Texas Tech University, and a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Pathology from Vanderbilt University. A former faculty member in the Pathology, Immunology and Microbiology Department at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and a Health Research Scientist in the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Dr. Vigerust has recently focused his expertise on precision medicine, genomics, and infectious and chronic disease management. Dr. Vigerust’s work has been published extensively in international journals, presented at national and international conferences, and he is an active contributor to several businesses and communities in preparing their emergency responses to pandemic incidents.
Dr. Vigerust has developed several novel molecular diagnostic essays for the prediction of inflammation and cardiovascular risk in patients with diabetes, infectious disease, and cancer. Dr. Vigerust speaks often on the subject of precision medicine and, in 2016, was selected as a TEDx speaker.
Dr. Vigerust currently maintains an Adjunct Assistant Professor position at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the Department of Neurological Surgery, and a Clinical Assistant Professor position with the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore School of Pharmacy.
Meg Samek-Smith, MBA, Chief Operating Officer
Ms. Samek-Smith oversees the strategy, funding, day-to-day management and operations for CoastalDx. Building on decades of experiences across multiple industries and in multiple countries, Ms. Samek-Smith brings a breadth of experience and knowledge and a consistent record of positioning companies for operational success.
Ms. Samek-Smith holds a BA in International Relations and French from Bucknell University and an MBA in International Management from Thunderbird School of Global. She began her career in the Bank of New York Management Training Program. After completing her MBA, she was hired by Sunbeam-Oster to help implement NAFTA . Under her leadership, she motivated international teams to move manufacturing lines from the US to Mexico as maquiladoras for the company. Sunbeam also appointed her to streamline operations and improve profitability at an ailing scale manufacturing plant in Waynesboro, MS. As an entrepreneur she created a world-class archiving and document storage company in Warsaw, Poland (later acquired by Iron Mountain). In Cairo, Egypt, Ms. Samek-Smith created and sold a full document management program to VodaFone for an Egyptian GSM start-up, MisrFone.
Notable professional achievements in healthcare include entrepreneurial work with MedImmune (now AstraZeneca) and FHI360. Ms. Samek-Smith was engaged by AstraZeneca in Gaithersburg, MD to design and implement a real-time health and safety view of their laboratories and scientists using sensor technologies. FHI360, a Washington, DC based international NGO engaged Ms. Samek-Smith to develop a solar powered biometric identification and data device for use in the Ministries of Healthcare and Education in the country of Liberia.
In addition to her professional skills, Ms. Samek-Smith speaks excellent French, Spanish and Dutch. She is also a passionate Community Leader, serving as the current Vice-Chairman and Treasurer of the Anne Arundel Medical Center Foundation Board, an Executive Committee Member of the Bucknell University Alumni Association Board and a long-time member of the Annapolis Womenade Board (community micro grants).
Wenzhe Li, Ph.D., MBA, DABCC, Medical Director
Throughout her career, Wenzhe has been known as a collaborative builder and leader for clinical laboratories and medical device organizations, with a demonstrated track record of creating successful start-ups, corporate growth, and innovation initiatives. Wenzhe garners confidence through leveraging industry and technical expertise as a Board-Certified Clinical Laboratory Director with 20+ years’ experience in the IVD industry and clinical laboratories.
Wenzhe had been the Medical Officer for Global Medical Affairs at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, where she directed all pre-and-post marketing activities for 600+ diagnostic products across all clinical specialty areas and supervised via matrix organizational structure all Global Medical Affairs work covering 15 manufacturing sites. Among a host of other responsibilities and accomplishments at Siemen’s, she established the medical assessment system that has become standard industry practice for FDA inspections, saving the company an estimated $3M. More recently, she has been involved with the design of submission approaches, review and approval for documents in EU IVDR applications (CE Mark) for 1000+ assays.
Previously as Vice President of R&D at NMS Labs, Wenzhe led the development, launch, and improvement of the company's unique product menu of 2500+ laboratory tests, which included LC-MS/MS and various other mass spectrometry methodologies, immunoassays, microRNA, qPCR, tissue culture, and cell based assays. Her leadership leveraged diverse functional management roles in method development and improvement, emerging technologies, IP licensing and technology transfer, contract negotiations, as well as complex mergers and acquisitions related to technology ownership.
Wenzhe received her MBA from Paul Merge School of Business, University of California-Irvine and her Ph.D. of Molecular Biology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is a certified laboratory director, holding a Diplomate, American Board of Clinical Chemistry from University of Washington. She is currently the President of Industry Division, American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC).
Jim Bentley, Vice President of Lab Operations
Jim is responsible for all Coastal Laboratories operations and is responsible for the creation or approval of quality systems including the Quality manual and related policies and procedures consistent with CLIA accreditation and GLP Standards. Following his degree in Chemistry with a Math minor Jim was accepted into the MBA program at Arizona State University. Due to company relocations these studies included coursework at SDSU and Claremont College under Professor Peter Drucker.
Jim began his professional career with National Health Laboratories (called LabCorp today) and over several years became proficient with all technical disciplines, as well as general and financial operations of the laboratories. He served as laboratory manager at the Denver, CO and Houston, TX locations with operational and budgetary responsibilities for approximately 100 technologists and support staff. Jim also served as a General and Technical Supervisor for the laboratory. He started and co-operated the first stat toxicology in the city of Houston. Jim left NHL after 10 years to create two start-up laboratories in Southern California. Through merger and acquisition, the labs became part of Corning Laboratory Services. Jim was promoted to VP/General manager for the Corning management group which owned Quest, Covance, and Quanterra laboratories. His region went from unprofitability to over 20% profit in two years, as Jim oversaw 750 technical and support staff and a budget of over $75 MM. Subsequently, he was appointed as a FACA advisor to Michael Leavitt, Administrator of the EPA and Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Bush administration. Jim also was tasked for a short period as a GC/MS expert in Australia for a project funded by the Japanese government.
Jim has spent the last 12 years involved with a wide variety of DNA testing, working both in laboratory operations and business development. Types of genetic testing managed by Jim include human identification, ancestry, wellness testing, pharmacogenetics (PGx), and currently infectious disease primarily using q-PCR techniques. Non-DNA testing during this time included toxicology screening and confirmations by LC/MS/MS. All high complexity testing during this time was performed under CLIA and international work under ISO 17025. He also served until 2017 as a Board member for the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association.