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James Esinhart '86

Alumnus' career firmly grounded in Highlander pride

In men's lacrosse, as in any sport, key attributes for success are teamwork, communication, responsibility and fairness. One former Radford University lacrosse player and statistics major, James Esinhart '86 of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., applied those same principles to his personal life, and in November 2012 he was appointed chief executive officer of Chiltern, a global pharmaceutical research company.

Established in 1982, Chiltern is a global contract research organization that manages clinical trials. The company has conducted research in more than 40 countries with experience in the management of Phase I-IV clinical trials.

"It was through succession planning that my new role developed here at Chiltern," Esinhart said. "Since joining Chiltern in 2006, Glenn Kerkhof, Chiltern’s former CEO, spent time developing the senior executive team and mentoring the teamwork. We were all preparing to shift out of the current roles to take on new roles for the future."

When Kerkhof moved up to the company's executive board, Esinhart stepped into the CEO role from his former position as senior executive vice president for Global Scientific Services. He was one of several top managers promoted. "We see this as extremely positive for the company," he said.

At RU, Esinhart received a bachelor's degree in statistics in spring 1986, continuing his education at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he earned a doctorate in biostatistics. Esinhart said his RU experience in the classroom and on the lacrosse field laid the foundation for his future in clinical research.

"Teamwork is essential within the clinical research community, especially with the globalization of clinical trials and the increase in outsourcing to companies such as Chiltern. Many of the same values learned in sports are also critical to the success of global clinical trials," Esinhart said. "Throughout my career, I have often reflected on the experiences I had with fellow teammates and the challenges we faced together. I am pleased to say that these experiences have helped formulate my approach to fostering relationships in business."

Before joining Chiltern, Esinhart held posts with several companies, including Wyeth, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. He was also an assistant professor at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and a founding employee of PharmaResearch Corp., later part of Charles River Laboratories International.

Esinhart recalled many RU teachers whom he considered mentors, especially Valiant Mah, professor of mathematics and statistics. "Dr. Mah took an interest in my studies with statistics during my junior and senior years, and he was perhaps the most influential professor is encouraging me to pursue further studies in statistics and biostatistics."

Esinhart is married to RU alumna Susan Chandler Esinhart, who graduated in 1986 with a degree in liberal studies. She has a career of more than 20 years as a personal trainer and fitness instructor. The couple have four daughters: Hali, Tiffany, Kellie and Shelby.

"Our time spent at Radford was rewarding and fun," he said. "Radford was a great experience." The close friendships and small-community feeling made Radford a great place to be. "Perhaps that is best symbolized by the central fountain, where everyone would meet after classes and catch up with one another."

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