Physician Investigators

Stephen Blank, MD Principal Investigator

“My caring and compassion for people show through my ability to be fully present and listen to my patients. As my communication style is direct and clear, I connect easily with my patients. My patients know that they are heard and understood and that their concerns are being addressed.”

Dr. Stephen Blank received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned his medical degree from the College of Medicine of New Jersey. He moved to Atlanta in 1977 to begin his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Emory University and has called Atlanta home ever since. He’s been in private practice since 1981 and founded Mt Vernon OB/GYN Associates in 1986.

A board-certified OB/GYN, Dr. Blank specializes in obstetrics, gynecology, high-risk obstetrics, infertility, laparoscopic surgery, PMS, and perimenopausal and menopausal medicine. He is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and a Diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He is an active member of the Georgia OB-GYN Society, The Medical Association of Georgia, and The North American Menopause Society.

Dr. Blank is a past Chairman of the Department of OB/GYN at Northside Hospital. As an early proponent and advocate for the establishment of specialized women’s health care centers, he was instrumental in the development, design, and construction of Northside Hospital’s Women’s Center, acting as Lead Physician Liaison. The Women’s Center was constructed during his watch as Chairman of the OB/GYN Department.

Dr. Blank believes that research is a vital part of healthcare. He has been a Lead Medical Investigator for Clinical Research Trials in Gynecology and Obstetrics for the past eight years.

Dr. Blank and his wife reside in Northwest Atlanta. They are blessed with three sons, two daughters-in-law, and two grandsons. For relaxation and fun, he enjoys golfing, skiing, reading and spending time with his family.


Max A. Shapiro, MD image

Max A. Shapiro, MD Principal Investigator

Dr. Max A. Shapiro received a B.S. degree from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and a M.D. from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. His internship and residency were completed at Emory University, and he completed his fellowship in gastroenterology and hepatology at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

Dr. Shapiro has specific interests in colon cancer screening and treating patients with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and Barrett’s esophagus. In addition to colonoscopy and upper GI endoscopy, he performs Barrett’s esophagus ablation (RFA) and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS).

As Director of Adult GI at the SEED Center, Dr. Shapiro participates in multidisciplinary treatment of eosinophilic esophagitis and celiac disease.

Dr. Shapiro is board certified in both internal medicine and gastroenterology and is on staff at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital. He moved back to Atlanta with his wife in 2008 and currently lives in the Dunwoody area with his young family.


benjamin thomas md, atlanta

Benjamin Thomas, MD, Internal Medicine Principal Investigator

Dr. Thomas has been an investigator with Mt. Vernon since 2013 and has decades of experience in the medical and clinical research field. Dr. Thomas attended Duke University for his undergraduate degree and obtained his M.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1980. He is a board-certified family medicine physician and is currently a practicing locum tenen physician for various medical practices in Georgia. Dr. Thomas is also a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Georgia Academy of Family Practice. His clinical research experience includes many different therapeutic areas including, but not limited to, constipation, IBS, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, overactive bladder, and atopic dermatitis.


Lauren Jones, NP, Clinical Research Sub-Investigator

Lauren Jones, NP, Clinical Research Sub-Investigator

Lauren Jones, NP received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and her graduate degree from the University of Cincinnati. She is a board-certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. She practiced OBGYN in Wilmington, North Carolina for eight years, working concurrently at a breast cancer surgery practice for five years. Lauren has also been teaching undergraduate and graduate nursing students for the past five years, currently with Kennesaw State University. Lauren moved to the Atlanta, Georgia area in 2019. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.