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Media Roundtable: Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Virtual media roundtables provide reporters with an opportunity for direct discussion with leading VA researchers on key research topics and portfolio areas. Each hour-long session includes brief remarks by researchers on a designated topic followed by a question and answer session. Reporters may participate in-person at VA headquarters in Washington, DC, or by teleconference. For more information, including a call-in number, please contact Laurie Tranter, VA Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, at


Joel Kupersmith, MD: As Chief Research and Development Officer of the VA, Dr. Kupersmith has completed projects and published papers on a number of health and research policy projects including how to fund, oversee and promote comparative effectiveness research, how Academic Medical Centers should be accountable, quality of care in teaching hospitals, regional IRBs, medical manpower and other issues.

Joel Kupersmith, MD

Jeffery Kocsis, Ph.D., is Director of the VA Spinal Cord Injury Translational Research Consortium in West Haven, Conn. and is the Associate Director of the VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence on Restoration of Nervous System Function. With more than 26 years of experience in spinal cord research, Dr. Kocsis focuses on cell therapy approaches to repair the chronically injured spinal cord. He has applied these techniques to spinal cord injuries (SCI) by transplanting stem cells in the acute and chronic phases of SCI as a potential therapy. Dr. Kocsis is also Professor of Neurology at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Jeffery Kocsis, Ph.D

Ann M. Spungen, Ed.D., is Associate Director of the VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence for the Medical Consequences of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y. Dr. Spungen's work focuses on treatments and therapies to mitigate the secondary consequences of SCI. She is currently working with other investigators to study forms of exercise that individuals with different levels of SCI can perform safely. Dr. Spungen has also studied the use of anabolic steroid therapy to promote healing of pressure ulcers. In addition to her VA role, Dr. Spungen is Associate Professor of Medicine and Rehabilitation Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Ann M. Spungen, Ed.D.

Lisa Ottomanelli, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist at the James A. Haley VA Hospital, in the Health Services Research and Development/Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence: Maximizing Rehabilitation Outcomes in Tampa, Fla.. Dr. Ottomanelli is currently examining effective treatment approaches for improving employment outcomes among Veterans with spinal cord injuries and is the principal investigator of the VA Rehabilitation, Research, and Development funded multi-center study titled, "SCI-Vocational Integration Program (SCI-VIP): Predictive Outcome Model Over Time for Employment" ( PrOMOTE). Dr. Ottomanelli is also Associate Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling at the University of South Florida.

Lisa Ottomanelli, Ph.D.

Media Toolkit & Resources

Roundtable Materials

* Unless otherwise noted, all files are in PDF format.

For Dr. Kocsis' presentation:

For Dr. Spungen's presentation:

For Dr. Ottomanelli's presentation:

About VA Research

How is VA research different from research sponsored by other federal research agencies?

  • VA Research is the only research program focused entirely on Veterans' needs.
  • VA Research is intramural, meaning only VA employees can conduct research under VA's sponsorship. Typically, VA researchers collaborate with academic institutions. We feel that this is an exceptional benefit because it allows us to identify the direct needs of patients at chair and bed side, and to find discoveries and innovations directly in-step with these needs-keeping the Veteran at the center of health care from the very beginning.
  • More than 60 percent of VA researchers are also clinicians who provide direct patient care, which is important because it allows VA Research to quickly move scientific discovery from the research setting to advancements in health care and to recruit the best and brightest healthcare professionals.

For more information, please visit

VA Research and Spinal Cord Injury

Information on SCI for Veterans

Media RoundtablePress Coverage

VA Press Release, March 31, 2012, "Research Roundtable Caps VA Celebration of Women's History Month"

Can writing exercises for veterans help cure PTSD?" in Stars and Stripes on March 16, 2012

"VA touts research department's newest efforts" in Stars and Stripes on November 15, 2012

Previous Roundtables

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