Dr. R.W.

R.W. Watkins, MD, MPH, FAAFP

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Watkins earned his medical degree at East Carolina School of Medicine, and completed his internship and residency in Family Medicine at Florida Hospital, Orlando. He has a Master’s in Public Health in Health Promotion and Nutrition from Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, with experience in both academic and corporate medicine.

Dr. Watkins built a thriving integrative medical practice in Greensboro, NC. His main focus is functional medicine with a special interest on neurohormonal imbalances. His other interests include many other aspects of integrative medicine, nutrition, neuroendocrinology, and predictive genomics.

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Dr. Watkins has lectured on a wide variety of topics at the local, state, national, and international levels. In addition, he has authored a number of journal articles and textbook chapters and has over 20 years of experience in private practice, teaching, and corporate medicine.

Joining Sanesco International’s Medical Board in 2005, and later becoming their Medical Director, Dr. Watkins is currently serving as Sanesco’s Chief Medical Officer and is also President and Laboratory Director of NeuroLab, Inc.

He is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a past-president and Chairman of the Board of the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians. Dr. Watkins has earned the honorary degree of Fellow in the Academy of Family Physicians. He is on the Board of Directors of COLA as a representative of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He is an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor at both the UNC School of Medicine and the East Carolina School of Medicine.

Hector Romero - CEO & Founder

Hector Romero

Founder & CEO

Hector Romero, Sanesco’s President and Chief Executive Officer, became personally interested in the rapidly growing alternative medical movement in the U.S. when his son was diagnosed with ADHD in the mid-1980s.

His search for information that would help his son led him to work as a business consultant with alternative doctors in the state of Florida and later as the Director of International Business for Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory in Asheville, North Carolina, a world-renowned leader in the field of functional laboratory testing.

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Mr. Romero began his career with Bayer Laboratories in Venezuela, first as a pharmaceutical sales representative, and later progressing into sales and marketing management. Mr. Romero’s association with Generix Drug Corporation in the U.S. led him to play a pioneering role in bringing generic pharmaceuticals to the Venezuelan market. As the president and CEO of Generix Drugs of Venezuela, he oversaw the exclusive representation of medical equipment and surgical supplies from several major American manufacturers, including the x-ray division of 3M, American Hospital Supply, and Tek-Named.

After leaving Great Smokies Laboratories, Mr. Romero became the CEO of CHC Group, a medical practice development company comprised of a consortium of independently-owned laboratories. CHC eventually became what is known today as NeuroScience, Inc., where he served as President and CEO. Mr. Romero developed a unique business model in which the company was neither a supplement manufacturer nor a clinical laboratory, but instead a medical organization specializing in the development and marketing of clinical tools for the assessment and correction of neurotransmitter imbalance.

In 2004, Mr. Romero founded Sanesco International, Inc. in Asheville, North Carolina alongside clinical and scientific leaders practicing functional and integrative medicine and developed the Communication System Management (CSM)™ Clinical Model.

Sanesco brings together a multi-disciplinary forum for clinical scientists, researchers, active clinicians, and healthcare innovators.

Key Clinical Contributors

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Sharon Norling, MD

Sharon Norling, MD | Clinical Advisory Board Member

Dr. Sharon Norling is a nationally known and highly respected medical doctor specializing in integrative medicine and practicing advanced functional medicine in Westlake Village, CA. Dr. Norling graduated from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and has trained at USC and UCLA. She received her MBA from St. Thomas University.

Dr. Norling’s expertise is based on her years of clinical experiences, former Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and her research. She is national board-certified in OB/GYN, Integrative Medicine and Medical Acupuncture. Dr. Norling combines a credible and responsible academic knowledge with years of experience and a caring nature.

Recognized for her expertise, she has testified before the White House Commission on Complementary Alternative Medicine Policy. She has served in multiple leadership roles as Medical Director and senior management in two large healthcare organizations.  During her years in health care she has been nurse, medical doctor, hospital administrator, advocate and a dismissed and misdiagnosed patient.

Her passion is finding the root cause of illnesses instead of just using a pharmaceutical drug to treat the tip of the iceberg. Hormonal and neurotransmitter balancing is one of her specialties.

Dr. Norling is an international speaker and the author of Your Doctor is Wrong. As a presenter, she is engaging, articulate, humorous, and insightful, making learning a dynamic professional and personal growth experience. Whether you have heard her on the radio, seen her on TV or sharing the stage with celebrities, Dr. Norling is the expert.

Dr. Norling is a medical authority, a visionary and an extraordinary leader who provides real solutions for patients who have been dismissed or misdiagnosed.

head shot Dr Vivian Varese

Vivian Varese, MD | Clinical Advisory Board Member

Based in Acton, Massachusetts serving patients from throughout Southern New England, Dr. Varese has been committed to the development of the Functional Medicine paradigm for over 30 years. After obtaining her medical degree from the Autonomous University of Guadalajara in Mexico in 1979 and completing 4 years of hospital training in New York City, she opened her private practice in the spring of 1984. Dr. Varese is a second generation physician in her family.

The longest area of expertise Dr. Varese has is the optimization of thyroid function. As soon as saliva testing became available, she added adrenal & all steroid hormone excellence to her roster. She has included the use of stool testing for GI and immune system assessment for over 2 decades. Dr. Varese has considered neurotransmitter measurements to be essential to all patient evaluations since incorporating it into her work in 2005.

All of Dr. Varese’s patients are given in-depth consultation so that a cohesive, individualized treatment plan can be devised using bio-identical hormone prescribing, nutritional supplements, herbal formulas and selective homeopathy. Dr. Varese very much enjoys her role as teacher and mentor to her patients as each one proceeds on a path toward living a healthy, happy life.

Koren Barrett, ND

Koren Barrett, ND | Honorary Clinical Advisory Board Member

Dr. Koren Barrett is a California licensed naturopathic doctor. Dr. Barrett has been in private practice in the Orange County area since 2003 offering integrative medical care. Dr. Barrett combines the best of both mainstream and natural therapies in one practice utilizing a variety of therapeutics including dietary and lifestyle counseling, herbal medicine, nutritional supplementation, and incorporating pharmaceutical prescriptions when needed. She received her medical education from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon where she also completed her residency in Naturopathic Family medicine.

Dr. Barrett received her pre-medical education from the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon. Dr. Barrett is an active participant in the medical community. Dr. Barrett has served as chair for an independent review board (IRB). She participated in reviewing pharmaceutical, natural and medical device clinical trials to ensure informed consent and safety of subjects participating in these trials. Dr. Barrett has participated as an item writer for NPLEX (Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations). She provided examination questions for the national naturopathic board licensing exam. Dr. Barrett lectures extensively to the general public, naturopathic and medical doctors on topics including neuroendocrine, balancing, bioidentical hormones, natural fertility management, breast health, children’s health, and autism. She has been quoted in multiple health publications and provides expert consulting to institutions and organizations on integrative naturopathic medical care.

Denise Mark, MD Honorary Clinical Advisory Board Member and Former Chief Medical Officer

Denise Mark, MD | Honorary Clinical Advisory Board Member and Former Chief Medical Officer

Denise Mark, MD is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelors Degree in Political Science. She earned her medical degree and completed her residency in internal medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Dr. Mark specializes in integrative internal medicine focusing on neuroendocrine balancing, using bio-identical hormones and targeted nutritional therapy. She also uses nutritional and preventive medicine to address metabolic syndrome, menopause, andropause and thyroid/adrenal imbalances for men and women. She has been in private practice since 1987 and is the Director at Monterey Bay Wellness in Carmel, California.

Dr. Mark holds memberships in the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) and the American College for the Advancement of Medicine (ACAM). She has been on the Board of Directors of ACAM since 1995. Dr. Mark is a popular speaker and has presented before professional groups and appeared on radio and television programs to discuss integrative medicine, neuroendocrine balancing, bio-identical hormones, insulin resistance and preventive wellness.


Bradley Bongiovanni, ND | Clinical Advisory Board Member

Brad Bongiovanni, ND is the founder of Wholistic Medicine Specialists of Atlanta. Dr. Bongiovanni is committed to a philosophy where he sees health as more than just the absence of disease, but a true function of participation in life. Dr. Bongiovanni earned his B.S. degree from the University of Richmond and then his Naturopathic Medicine degree from NCNM in 1997, as well as a residency in 1998. Dr. Bongiovanni has an extraordinary background in clinical and laboratory medicine, international medical education, corporate/executive strategy, and transpersonal psychology. He maintains a special focus in the wholistic/functional/genomic approach to patients with anxiety, depression, and stress/fatigue-related disorders.
In 2016, he presented at Harvard on nutritional psychiatry and is an invited lecturer at the 2017 International Congress on Naturopathic Medicine in London on the topic of mindfulness and HPA axis dysfunction. He is a regular television and online media contributor nationally, having made regular media appearances on affiliates for NBC, ABC, FOX, and CNN.
Diane Parks, NP

Diane Parks, NP | Clinical Advisory Board Member

Diane is a board-certified nurse practitioner with over thirty years experience.  She is also a nationally certified sexual counselor through AASECT. Her philosophy is patient-centric care while working towards determining the root cause of problems rather than taking a “band-aid” approach. She specializes in neurotransmitter evaluation and treatment, bioidentical hormonal treatment and sex counseling for individuals and couples. Diane also provides lifestyle coaching for optimal health.
Tom Schneider, MD

Tom Schneider, MD | Honorary Clinical Advisory Board Member

Dr. Schneider is dedicated to the belief that the process of physical aging can be slowed, stopped or even reversed through existing medical and scientific interventions that are available now. His ground-breaking work in age management and regenerative medicine is rooted in more than a decade of personal and professional involvement in this exciting medical specialty.

Dr. Schneider attended medical school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and trained at prestigious facilities including Bethesda Naval Hospital, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and the National Institute of Health. In addition to the rare distinction of being board certified in four medical specialties, Dr. Schneider is certified in Chinese Acupuncture for Aging by world renowned Dr. Yun Tao Ma and by the Cenegenics Education & Research Foundation’s program in Age Management Medicine. He also maintains an ongoing avocation in Bioethics and affiliates with the Kennedy School of Bioethics at Georgetown University.

Scientific Contributors

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Jeff Schmitt, PhD | Chief Scientific Officer

Jeff Schmitt enjoys a rich life filled with community, science, music, art, and family. Jeff is an enthusiastic advocate for indigenous healing and wisdom traditions. As both a noted scientist and practitioner of Peruvian Folk medicine, he seeks to build bridges of understanding. Jeff is a challenging and evocative speaker/storyteller; in 2011 he presented the first TEDx talk on Ayahuasca – inspired by his life-changing sojourn with the Secoya people of the Northern Amazon rainforest.He did his undergraduate work at Wake Forest University followed by graduate work at the University of Bath and Oxford University.

Jeff holds adjunct professorships at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Biochemistry, Physiology-Pharmacology. He is the Director of Research for the Center for Integrative Medicine at Wake Forest. He is a founding member of numerous companies including Targacept, Inc. where he led the development of simulation technology to make the process of drug discovery more efficient. Jeff has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications, patents and abstracts, and been  on the editorial advisory boards of 6 international journals. He is the founding research director of the Bent Creek Institute of the University of North Carolina.

Jeff founded and directed the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative at Wake Forest School of Medicine. He also devotes his time to organizations serving the greater good and has been a board member of 5 non-profit organizations. He is also a Chinese martial Arts expert. Despite a rich career in the life sciences, Jeff has over the years collaborated with numerous American and European artists, including ex-King Crimson drummer Michael Giles, LA sound artist Rhan Small, rap artist and spoken-word poet Cactus and members of Medeski, Martin and Wood. A stint with metal sculpture led to Jeff winning the Savannah College of Art ‘Savannah 3D’ invitational in 1986. Jeff and his musical collaborators composed music for the Aban Elved dance company 1994-2005, leading to collaborations in England, USA and Germany. Jeff is also a founding member of the Wheel Theater Company led by Juilliard and Moscow Art Theater artist Felix Ivanov. Finally, while in Europe, Jeff was a founding member of the Bio*Art collaborative, a group of philosophers, scientists and artists working together to foster an esthetic appreciation of scientific discovery. Their work led to a Royal Society exhibition as well as the first musical compositions based on the 3-dimensional structure of proteins.

Lisa Samuelson - NeuroLab Laboratory Manager

Lisa Samuelson | Laboratory Manager

Lisa Samuelson has served as Lab Manager at NeuroLab, a division of Sanesco International, for just over two years. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned her Bachelors in Biology and her Masters in Molecular and Cellular Pathology. Before coming to Sanesco Lisa worked for 12 years at UNC Chapel Hill as a Lab Manager and Research Specialist in the department of Transplant Surgery researching chronic liver disease and type 1 diabetes via the identification and isolation of tissue resident progenitor cell populations.

For more than 10 years, Sanesco and NeuroLab have served as an important resource at the forefront of patient-centered care, measuring biomarkers to address root cause of many chronic health issues. NeuroLab™ is a leading specialist in the technology, analysis, and research of the biomarkers associated with Hypothalmic-Pituitiary-Adrenal-Thyroid Axis function. HPA-T Axis function is pivotal to the optimal function of the body’s neuroendocrine communication system. NeuroLab’s focus on patient-centered health care means dedicated research in HPA-T Axis function from our partners and practitioners, the most accurate and advanced technology to measure relevant biomarkers, and research and development of new biomarkers to adapt to patients’ needs. NeuroLab results are accurate, reliable, and reproducible – giving the practitioner all the necessary resources to provide a clear view of the window into the neuroendocrine system.

Connie Shoemaker, ND

Connie Shoemaker, ND | Clinical Support Director

“Educating Sanesco’s clients is the culmination of a life’s work.” Beginning when she left the hospital environment to manage a functional laboratory, Genova Diagnostics (formerly Great Smokies Laboratories) in 1987, Dr. Connie Shoemaker has continued to increase her knowledge of herbs and biochemistry as a journey of love. With her bachelor’s in science from Western Carolina University, she had worked in hospital laboratories for the first twelve years of her career. Then, personal health challenges led her to discover a new approach to her health and a determination to share it with others. In 1991, she began teaching and educating innovative practitioners in the U.S. and internationally as a manager of marketing, sales, and customer service.

The addition of her Doctor of Naturopathy degree to her existing knowledge base expanded her knowledge and her respect for a more natural approach to healing through balance. At Sanesco, she initially served to oversee technical development of products and services.

Now, she educates Sanesco’s clients on application of the CSM™ model for their specific patients and how to integrate the CSM™ model with other modalities they offer in their practice. In her personal life, Connie educates private clients on various health topics.

Administrative Operations

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