Carmel-based Avant Healthcare Inc. has announced several executive leadership changes. They include naming Rob Spalding chief executive officer and appointing Kathleen Barrett president of Avant Healthcare Marketing. November 12, 2014

News Release

CARMEL, Ind. – Carmel, Indiana-based Avant Healthcare has named four individuals to leadership positions, including two internal promotions and two new corporate leaders with significant industry experience.

Former Avant Healthcare Marketing President Rob Spalding is now Chief Executive Officer of Avant Healthcare, Inc. Spalding, who has more than a decade of experience in leadership roles within the healthcare industry, joined the company in 2013 as Vice President of Strategy and Innovation. As CEO, he will provide executive oversight for the company's two agencies, Avant Healthcare Communications and Avant Healthcare Marketing. Prior to joining Avant Healthcare, Spalding held a breadth of marketing roles with multiple brands at varying stages in the product life cycle for large pharmaceutical companies, garnering a proven track record of surpassing forecast expectations.

Assuming the role of President of Avant Healthcare Marketing will be Kathleen Barrett, who has had a six-year career with Avant Healthcare, including previous leadership roles such as Senior Vice President, Vice President, Executive Director, and Director of Strategy. Prior to joining Avant Healthcare, Barrett obtained healthcare industry experience from her previous work with a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company.

Leading the Avant Healthcare Communications team as President is Chris O'Toole. O'Toole brings more than 30 years of industry experience on both the client and agency side, initially in Europe and more recently in the United States. A former President of Medical Action Communities (Quintiles) and head of international business development at Churchill Communications, he has served for the past seven years as a president of a boutique consultancy for biopharmaceutical companies and healthcare services businesses in North America and Europe. O’Toole is also a board member of the Galien Foundation, which recognizes technical, scientific, and clinical research achievements through its prestigious Prix Galien.

Avant Healthcare has named Leo Francis, PhD, its new Chief Strategy Officer. Francis, formerly Global Group President of Publicis Healthcare Communications Group, comes to Avant Healthcare with a history of industry leadership roles, nationally and internationally. Twice recognized by PharmaVoice as one of the 100 most inspiring leaders in the life sciences industry, Francis holds a doctorate in Physiology and Pharmacology. For Avant Healthcare, he will be helping to fuel the future growth with an emphasis on the northeast region. Francis will also be playing a critical leadership role within the company’s scientific division.

Deborah Wood, owner and CEO of DWA Healthcare Communications Group (parent company of Avant Healthcare) expressed that she is enthusiastic about the new leadership team and the things to come. “It would be an understatement to say the last year has been an exciting one – we've brought on nearly 30 new team members and propelled our creative and medical services to new heights in order to take new and existing clients where they want to go,” said Wood. “Rob and Kat have invigorated Avant Healthcare time and again through their vision and drive, and with such talented individuals as Leo and Chris now onboard, we are doubling our considerable momentum to continue to enrich the landscape of patient care.”

Additional information about Avant Healthcare and the new leadership team can be found online at

Avant Healthcare is a medical and marketing communications company that partners with pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostic, and medical device clients to engage and educate healthcare professionals on potential treatment options for their patients. A woman-owned business, the company was founded in 1994 and was twice recognized as one of the top 100 healthcare marketing agencies in North America by Medical Marketing & Media Magazine, and was a finalist for PM360 Trailblazer Awards Supplier of the Year in 2014. Comprised of two agencies—Avant Healthcare Marketing and Avant Healthcare Communications—Avant Healthcare is based in Carmel, Indiana, with remote teams in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Short Hills, New Jersey.

Source: Avant Healthcare

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