“Our mission is to partner with healthcare practice owners to build a nationwide network of managed laboratories that improve patient care and increase practice efficiency and productivity.”

With over 40 years of laboratory industry experience and over 65 managed labs in operation, Select Laboratory Partners (SLP) is the clear choice in practice-owned laboratory management. SLP offers customized, in-office laboratory installation and management for pain, addiction, behavioral rehabilitation, primary care practices, hospitals, and nursing homes. SLP’s comprehensive and customized solutions allow customers to deliver responsive, on-site screening and confirmation testing along with an extensive list of value-added management services. In addition, SLP supplies customers with state-of-the-art equipment, instruments, laboratory management software, reagents, supplies as well as superior technical support. Customers also benefit from SLP’s long-term commitment to a research and development effort.  SLP is focused on improving lab efficiency, expanding the menu of tests and range of products offered in an effort to increase the quality of patient care. SLP is committed to providing excellence in management services and innovative solutions.

Meet Our Team

Ernest A. Knesel
Chairman and CEO

Mr. Knesel was a founder and officer in charge of operations for Biomedical Reference Laboratories, Inc., which started in 1969 and went public in 1979.  Mr. Knesel served as Senior Vice President of this business and its successor company Roche Biomedical Laboratories, Inc. through 1995. During his tenure at Roche, revenue grew to over $1 billion.  As Senior Vice President, Mr. Knesel’s responsibilities included strategic planning, laboratory direction, and management of operations, laboratory acquisitions and extensive regional/national organizational development.  Mr. Knesel was responsible as the chief scientific officer for laboratory technology selection, innovation and development for all areas of the clinical laboratory.  Mr. Knesel has had extensive experience in sales, marketing, and has demonstrated an acute awareness of market needs and its priorities.  He personally developed and directed a variety of highly successful differentiating niche businesses within Roche Biomedical Laboratories, which merged to create Laboratory Corporation of America in 1995.

In 1989 Mr. Knesel founded Roche Image Analysis Systems (RIAS) as a subsidiary of Roche Biomedical Laboratories and successfully established this company as a leader in automated cytodiagnostics.  As the President of RIAS, Mr. Knesel developed a new automated thin‑layer cell preparation to improve the Pap smear and directed technology acquisitions and product development for microscopic cell-based image analysis.  Mr. Knesel was also founder and first president of AutoCyte, Inc., the successor to RIAS established with venture capital backing in 1996 and taken public in 1997.   Mr. Knesel was responsible for planning, direction and oversight of AutoCyte’s successful PMA approval and gained significant experience working with the FDA, Office of Device Evaluation in this and related efforts. Mr. Knesel left Autocyte in 2000.

In 2001, Mr. Knesel started Select Diagnostics, Inc., which grew into a full service regional reference laboratory serving North Carolina and Virginia. This service laboratory successfully competed with the major labs and merged with Solstas in 2011 which in turn was acquired by Quest Diagnostics in 2014. During his tenure at Select Diagnostics, Mr. Knesel founded Select Laboratory Partners in 2003, Select Laboratories-South Carolina in 2006, and CellSolutions in 2007.

Mr. Knesel received a BS in Biology and Medical Technology and an MS in Biochemistry from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Richard Augustus

Richard has been involved with SLP since 2013. After completing an investment banking assignment with the company, he joined SLP in January 2014 and served as the company’s Western Division President until September 2015 at which time he was promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer of SLP. Mr. Augustus is also the President and co-founder of Aurus Advisors, Inc., a FINRA registered broker/dealer that provides collateralized finance and investment banking services to institutional clients. Prior to founding Aurus in 2002, he served as Chief Operating Officer of Automated Data Exchange (ADX), a privately held software company and was primarily responsible for turning around this near-bankrupt company in late 1998. Prior to this, Mr. Augustus spent 15 years working primarily in the Capital Markets Division of Merrill Lynch and held various positions including Managing Director in the Global Equity Financing Division (London), Director of Global Equity Swaps, and Product Manager for Equity Derivatives. While at Merrill, he was responsible for structuring and investing in a broad array of arbitrage transactions for sophisticated investors and for the firm’s account. He also acted as the primary relationship manager for many of the firm’s largest institutional clients assisting them in all areas of their businesses including portfolio management, trading, financing and operations.

Patrick Rainey, PhD, DABT

Dr. Rainey joined SLP as the Director of Analytical Toxicology in 2012 and was promoted to Chief Scientific Officer in 2014 and COO in 2016.  Dr. Rainey’s responsibilities include leading a team of scientists that manage SLP’s client portfolio of practice-owned laboratories and reference laboratories, directing research and development efforts for alternative clinical testing regimes utilizing LC-MS/MS technology and performing the scientific work required to obtain FDA approval for new clinical analyzers and reagent product offerings. His previous industrial research experience includes identifying harmful constituents of cigarette smoke and monitoring their effects on biological pathways within immortalized HeLa lung cells in vitro as the Director of Research and Development with Vector Research based in Durham, NC. Before joining SLP, Dr. Rainey was a chemistry professor at the North Carolina School of Science & Math where he taught Advanced Chemistry and Organic Chemistry courses and labs as well as mentored students in the pursuit of science careers.

 Dr. Rainey’s extensive education background includes a B.S. in Chemistry with a minor in Mathematics from the University of Central Arkansas and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Texas A&M. Upon completion of his PhD, Dr. Rainey was awarded the National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) in the Materials Science and Engineering Department. Dr. Rainey has earned Diplomate status with the American Board of Toxicology as a certified toxicologist.

Keivan Ettefagh, PhD
VP Technical Support – Innovation

Dr. Ettefagh joined Select Laboratory Partners in 2018 as a laboratory director.  He was quickly promoted to the vice president of technical support and innovation  in 2019.  Dr. Ettefagh’s responsibilities include overseeing a series of toxicology testing laboratories, an advanced clinical laboratory and, a molecular laboratory dedicated to detecting viral pathogens and cancers. His previous work experience includes serving as the director of toxicology at Ameritox and teaching as an assistant professor in biochemistry and analytical chemistry at UNCG.

Dr. Ettefagh’s education background includes a bachelor of science in chemistry and bachelor of arts in romance languages from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as a doctorate in medicinal biochemistry from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  His doctorate research focused on the discovery of antimicrobial compounds in flora through the use of LC/MS/MS technology.  Dr. Ettefagh has earned his board certification as National Registry of Certified Chemist in the area of toxicology.

Dr. Qiang
Chief Scientific Officer for Select Toxicology

Dr. Qiang joined Select Laboratory Partners in 2013 as the Chief Scientific Officer for Select Toxicology, a reference laboratory that provides toxicology testing for pain management and behavioral health practices. He served as the Director of Toxicology for Select Laboratory Partners starting from 2015, focusing on the lab setup, method validation and daily operation of practice-owned laboratories and reference laboratories nationwide. He also developed the testing of advanced clinical biomarkers in proteomics and metabolomics using LC-MS/MS technology. He has over 15 years of experience with state-of-the-art analytical instruments. Dr. Qiang also served as the Lab Director for several physician office laboratories. In 2017, Dr. Qiang was promoted and currently serves as the Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer for Select Laboratory Partners.

Dr. Qiang holds a PhD in Toxicology from Iowa State University. He also holds a Masters in Pharmacology and Toxicology, and a Bachelors degree in Veterinary Medicine. His PhD research was awarded the Iowa State University Research Excellence Award. Upon completion of his PhD, Dr. Qiang received the National Institute of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). He is the National Registry of Certified Chemists (NRCC) as a Certified Toxicological Chemist. He serves as an ad hoc reviewer for the Journal of Phytotherapy Research, Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology, and Food and Chemical Toxicology, among others.

Dan Knesel
Human Resources Special Projects

Before joining SLP in 2012, Mr. Knesel was a controller for Golden State Foods, one the largest distributors for McDonalds, serving over 9,000 restaurants on the East Coast, West Coast and Hawaii. Over his 31-year career at Golden State, Dan was responsible for all aspects of accounting operations including purchasing, pricing, budget preparation and internal reporting. Mr. Knesel began his career as a staff accountant for CPC International, a global food products company that provides ingredients to the food, beverage, brewing and pharmaceutical industries and numerous industrial sectors.

Mr. Knesel graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University where he earned a B.A. in Mathematics.

John Merritt

Executive Vice President

Mr. Merritt has over 35 years of sales, sales management and marketing experience in the healthcare market. John has served as Vice President of Sales for Roche Biomedical Laboratories, (LabCorp.); Roche Image Analysis Systems (TriPath), General Injectables  and Vaccines (now Henry Schein, Inc.), BioClinical Concepts, Inc. (now Clinical Data, Inc). Mr. Merritt was one of the founders of BioClinical Concepts in 1997 and successfully led the company for three years as the Vice President of Sales.  BioClinical Concepts specialized in physician office laboratory management. Immediately before joining SLP, Mr. Merritt worked with Quest Diagnostics, Inc. as Strategic Business Development Manager and started Healthcare Innovative Products and Solutions, LLC, a healthcare software sales and service company.

Mr. Merritt is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Bill Waddington
Executive Vice President

Mr. Waddington, who has extensive experience in diagnostics sales, marketing, customer service and support, joined Select Laboratory Partners in 2009 to set up CellSolutions Europe, an international sales organization for SLP’s cytology affiliate. In 2009, he relocated to the United States to become Co-Head of Sales for SLP focusing primarily in the Southeastern United States. Before joining SLP, Bill was an independent sales consultant for Tiscali Group, a telecommunications company based in Italy where he sold internet and networking products and services. Before this, he was the Managing Director of European Sales and Operations for American Monitor Corporation, a leader in clinical chemistry instrumentation. Mr. Waddington is also the President of SelectTox, a reference laboratory and SLP affiliate that provides toxicology testing for pain management and behavioral health practices. Bill is also a Director of CellSolutions Europe.

Russell Hogsett
Senior Vice President of Sales

Russell Hogsett has over 20 years of diagnostic sales experience with over 10 years of experience in diagnostic equipment focused in Molecular Diagnostics. Russell began his selling career with MetPath Laboratories, which became Quest Diagnostics and focused on physician and hospital diagnostic testing services.

Russell then moved into Molecular with Roche Molecular Diagnostics and focused on selling molecular equipment to hospitals. After Roche Molecular, Russell moved to Luminex Corp and served as a SE Regional Manager and a National Corporate Accounts Director with a continued focus in Molecular.

Mr. Hogsett is a graduate of East Carolina University with a Business Degree.

Von C. McAfee Sr.
Vice President of Marketing and Business Development

Von McAfee serves as Vice President, Marketing and Business Development at Select Laboratory Partners.  Von has over 30 years of healthcare sales experience with a proven track record of sales achievements, accolades, and awards for his leadership, team building, and problem solving skills.  A native of Charlotte, NC, Von is a graduate of South Carolina State University where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Mathematics, and a minor in Computer Science.   Upon graduation, Von was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, and proudly represented his country during his time in service.  Von earned his Parachutist Badge and distinguished Ranger Tab from the Army’s toughest course and the premier small unit tactics and leadership school in Ft. Benning, GA in 1985.  After separation from the United States Army in February of 1988, Von was recruited by Texas Instrument Defense Systems Missile Division in Dallas, Texas to serve as the Acceptance Test Supervisor.

In late 1989, Von was hired by Abbott Laboratories Diagnostics Division in Dallas, Texas as the Production/Test and Transfusion Diagnostics Supervisor.   Von was responsible for the scheduling, production, manufacturing, testing, quality control, quality assurance, packing and shipment of Parallel Processing Center, Front End Processing Center, Compressor Cart and Quick Wash units for delivery to the American Red Cross, hospitals, clinics, and physician office laboratories.   He initiated a Self-Directed Work team processes using Deming Principles which improved moral, increased product quality and performance

While at Abbott Laboratories, he was elected to make a career shift from manufacturing to sales as an Area Account Executive for Abbott Diagnostics Division.  Von was a top performer and a President’s Club Award recipient.  Von gained on-the job marketing experience in 1996 when he was hired as a Major Account Executive with the Coca-Cola Fountain Division in Dallas, TX.

Von later accepted a position as Southeast Regional Sales Manager for the DynaMedix Corporation (Synergy Medical Informatics), an innovative medical software development company where he was responsible for selling scalable Laboratory Information Systems and hand-held coding devices to hospitals, clinics and physician office laboratories in the Southeastern United States.

In 2000, Von accepted a position as Instrument Sales Specialist for Diagnostic Products Corporation (DPC) selling Immulite®immunochemistry analyzers to hospitals, physicians, and reference laboratories.  Vons’ leadership, enthusiasm, and customer focused approach, helped to lead the Southeast Region from #10 of 10, to #1 of 10 for three consecutive years.

Upon Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics’ acquisition of DPC, Von was chosen to serve as Regional Sales Manager for the Charlotte, NC Region.  Von led a team of young sales professionals, most less than six months with the company, to a successful sales performance.   Von held many positions while at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics which include; Instrument Sales Specialist, National Account Manager, Health Systems Manager, Regional  Sales Manager, and Zone Corporate Account Manager covering large Group Purchasing Organizations, and Independent Delivery Networks. Von served as the Health Systems Manager for DPC/Siemens for Premiere Inc., Greater New York Hospitals Association (GNYHA), and Managed Healthcare Associates (MHA). Von launched creative marketing campaigns, and sales promotions which gave birth to 35% annual sales growth year over year for the Premier, Inc. GPO portfolio.  Simultaneously, Von managed the Polestar (master distributor) and built longstanding relationships its client distributor base.

Von continues to look for innovative ways to improve the economic picture for pain management centers, primary care-physician office laboratory practices, hospitals, behavioral health, addictive medicine, substance abuse centers, and small independent reference labs.

William (Billy) Fox
Vice President of Innovation, Sr. Vice President of Laboratories

Billy joined Select Lab Partners in June 2015 after taking early retirement from Becton Dickinson where he served as a Business Analyst for the BD Diagnostics Engineering Division. Over the course of his career, He has directed a diverse array of projects spanning Reagent, Software, and Instrumentation R&D, Facilities Design, Manufacturing Systems Design, and Operations. As Assistant Vice-President and Director of Technology Development at Roche Biomedical Laboratories, Billy led various Innovation Teams in the development of novel technologies resulting in FDA 510(k) and FDA Class III PMA product lines including one that was spun off into an IPO company that ultimately became TriPath Imaging, Inc. TriPath was subsequently acquired by Becton Dickinson in 2006 and is known today BD’s Women’s Health & Cancer. Billy began his career in 1977 with Biomedical Reference Labs which grew to become the foundation of Roche Biomedical Laboratories, and later Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp).

Billy has a degree in Medical Laboratory Technology from Elon College and holds eight assigned US Patents, five additional US Patent Applications, and numerous worldwide patents related to Medical Device designs.

Thomas Gahm, PhD
Founder and President/Select Laboratory Software, LLC

From 1983 to 1993 Dr. Gahm worked as an imaging expert, scientific adviser and project coordinator at Kontron Electronics, Image Analysis Division located in München. In 1993, he relocated to the United States joining Roche Image Analysis as VP of Image Research and Development. Subsequently he served in similar positions at AutoCyte, TriPath, and Becton Dickinson where he lead engineering teams of various sizes in the development of medical devices including automated systems for thin layer preparation of cytological samples, telepathology devices, fast scanners for automated recognition of cancer cells in cytological slides, virtual slide scanners, and histology systems for the quantification of tumor markers in histological sections. In 2012 Dr. Gahm left Becton Dickinson and along with some colleagues and founded Select Laboratory Software. As a close partner of Select Laboratory Partners, Select Laboratory Software has developed and sells a laboratory information system (SelectIS) with an innovative cloud-based data backbone, which makes the system location and hardware independent. Initially optimized for toxicology the system is currently expanded to be applied to full service laboratories.

 Dr. Gahm holds a Master of Physics from the University of Stuttgart, Germany, and a PhD in Human Biology, a combination of Electrical Engineering and Medicine with a concentration in research, from the University of Hannover, Germany.

Thanh Nguyen
Vice President of Software Engineering

Thanh Nguyen’s over 30 years career spans many disciplines, starting with the development of image processing hardware, senior software engineering in graphics and image processing, embedded system development, engineering management, technical marketing, server side software development for wireless service provider, web based applications among many other achievements.

He has worked in leading edge projects in big corporations such Sun Microsystems, Openwave, and for a number of small startups consisting of contributors in the US and Europe. The combination of strong technical expertise and management experience makes him a unique contributor to the team.

Thanh has an electrical engineering degree from the University of Munich and an MBA from Santa Clara University.

Joel Dry
Vice President of Product Management and Cytology Applications

Joel has been a member of CellSolutions since it’s founding. He has been involved in the design and development of the company’s BestPrep liquid-based cytology preparation products and BestCyte digital cytology imaging system.

His career began in 1993 as a cytotechnologist in Charleston, South Carolina. He worked for seven years in the R&D division of TriPath Imaging. Joel was the Cytology Supervisor of Select Diagnostics from 2002 to 2011.