The ECRU Team

Principal Investigators

Prof. Christopher Gilfillan


Director of Endocrinology, Eastern Health since 2008

Clinical Professor, Department of Medicine, Eastern Clinical School, Monash University

Director Eastern Clinical Research Unit (ECRU) - Endocrinology

Professor Chris Gilfillan is currently the Director of Endocrinology at Eastern Health and has a private endocrine practice in Box Hill and Frankston. He oversees an active clinical research program and is the Principal Investigator on all the clinical trials within the department. He has clinical interests in all aspects of endocrinology and research interests in type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, thyroid cancer, osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease.

Through the Eastern Health Clinical School, he is a Clinical Professor at both Monash University and Deakin University and is involved in the teaching of medical students, and basic physician trainees in endocrinology and internal medicine.

He was awarded a Centenary Medal for services to diabetes on the Mornington Peninsula.


Vanessa Viola



Vanessa Viola is a Diabetes Educator and Research Nurse with over 30 years of experience in the medical field. She aims to empower individuals to take control of their diabetes, making lifestyle modifications, adopting healthy habits, and managing their conditions effectively.

As a Team Leader, Vanessa is dedicated to fostering a collaborative and supportive environment which allows the team to deliver high-quality care and support to patients. Beyond her professional achievements, Vanessa is an active advocate for research and research professionals and volunteers her time as treasurer of the Victorian Affiliation of Research Nurses.

In her spare time, Vanessa enjoys skiing and yoga, which she finds to be not only physically beneficial but also a great way to manage stress and maintain a positive outlook on life. Her passion for making a difference continues to inspire those around her and positively impacts the lives of many individuals facing the challenges of chronic health conditions.


Study Coordinators

Kerrie Peacock


Kerrie Peacock is a Credentialed Diabetes Educator and registered nurse having worked in research and private practice since 2006. Kerrie has been involved in many clinical trials with a focus on diabetes and weight loss.

Research has become her passion, the road to better treatments and outcomes for our existing and future generations.

Gabrielle Garner


Gabby Garner is a Division 1 Registered Nurse and Credentialed Diabetes Educator with the Australian Diabetes Educators Association. Gabby first graduated from university as a journalist, but after working in that field for a few years (and spending some time with the compassionate and fun-loving Endocrine team at Box Hill Hospital), Gabby realised her calling was actually to a career in healthcare.

She returned to university to study for a Bachelor’s Degree: Masters of Nursing Practice with Monash University and she has now worked in clinical trials for almost 15 years.  Gabby’s main interests include endocrinology, particularly diabetes and its associated complications including heart & kidney disease.

Carolyn Harris


Carolyn is a Registered Nurse Division 2, who has worked within the ECRU Endocrinology department since 2004. She has worked on numerous trials whose therapeutic areas include sleep apnoea, osteoporosis and diabetes.  She specialises in long term outcome trials which look at the effects of new medications on cardiovascular complications.  She has a keen interest in promoting clinical trial participation and awareness within our community.  

Vanessa James


Vanessa James is a Registered Nurse and Diabetes Nurse Educator, who started her career with Eastern Health in 1998. During her time with Eastern Health, Vanessa worked as a clinical nurse specialist and graduate nurse educator on a medical specialty ward. There Vanessa developed an appreciation of the complexities one may face having an endocrinology disorder, thus enhancing her desire to continue her career in education.

Vanessa believes research is the foundation for improved practice and technology, technology that we discover today will ultimately help someone tomorrow.


Start-Up & Ethics 

Andriana Chronopoulos


Andriana holds a Bachelor of Science degree and discovered her passion for research during her Honors year, where she explored the benefits of chocolate antioxidants on the cardiovascular system. The experience ignited her curiosity for the world of scientific inquiry and its impact on health and well-being. Over the last 15 years, she has worked in trials primarily focusing on cardiovascular disease and diabetes. For her, being at the cutting edge of breakthrough treatments is incredibly fulfilling, especially when surrounded by an extraordinary team of compassionate and fun-loving individuals.



Leanne Auchterlonie 


Leanne has worked with ECRU since 2008. She predominantly works behind the scenes in clinical trial administration. Previously she has worked in hospital and banking administration.

In her spare time she enjoys travelling, when COVID permits. 

Jenny Bennett 


Jenny has been working in the health industry for 15 years, spending the past 10 years at ECRU as part of the Endocrine team in clinical trial administration.