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2024 DEI Research Supplement Awardees

ORD congratulates the 2024 awardees of the mentored research supplements to promote Diversity. These are supplements to funded VA Merit awards and are intended to provide support for early career candidates from underrepresented backgrounds as they develop a proposal for a VA Career Development Award.




Jamie Garcia, PhD

Jamie Garcia, PhD

Nashville VAMC/ Alyssa Hasty, PhD

Immunological Memory of Obesity



The rising prevalence of obesity leads many people to weight cycle, dramatically altering the adipose tissue immune environment and increasing inflammation. The immune system within adipose tissue develops an obesogenic memory to weight cycling, potentiating poor metabolic outcomes. Our goal is to identify mechanisms of immune memory to better define the pathogenesis of obesity associated metabolic disorders.

Princess Nash, PhD

Princess Nash, PhD

Tuscaloosa VAMC/ Lynn Snow, PhD, Christine Hartmann, PhD, and Lori Bastian, MD, MPH

Pragmatic trial to increase quality of care in State Veterans Homes: Improving safety using an evidence-based, frontline staff huddling practice



The population of women Veterans over age 65 is expected to increase significantly over the next two decades. Yet we know little about the experiences of older women Veterans residing in long-term care settings. We also know little about how to improve individualized care for these women, even though individualized care has been shown to improve long-term care quality. This study builds on existing work on the use of individualized care to improve quality in long-term care. To investigate women Veterans’ experiences of individualized care in State Veterans Homes, this study will use a mixed-methods approach to examine facilitators and barriers related to individualized care practices and explore participants’ experiences with individualized care. Results will be used to support change in long-term care settings.

Basile Njei, MD, PhD

Basile Njei, MD, PhD

VA Connecticut HCS/ Amy Justice, MD, PhD

Genetic Vulnerability for Sustained Multi- Substance Use in MVP



Despite having a better cardiometabolic profile, lean individuals have a two-fold increased risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality compared to non-lean individuals with steatotic (fatty) liver disease. The proposed project aims to improve our understanding of the clinical and genetic underpinnings of steatotic liver disease in lean individuals and how alcohol consumption impacts these clinical and genetic risk factors. This project will assemble the largest ever multi-ancestry cohort of persons with steatotic liver disease based on the application of artificial intelligence methods to clinically obtained non-contrast abdominal CT scans.

Maribel Plasencia, PhD

Houston VAMC/ Terri Fletcher, Ph.D. and Natalie Hundt, Ph.D.

A Mixed-Methods Economic Evaluation of Exposure and Response Prevention in Veterans with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder



Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic and debilitating psychiatric condition associated with functional impairment and decreased quality of life. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is the gold standard behavioral treatment for OCD. However, few Veterans receive this treatment within the VHA. In addition to evaluating the effectiveness of ERP in Veterans, mixed-methods economic evaluations can help VA stakeholders evaluate tradeoffs between multiple strategies to address OCD in Veterans and identify which interventions may have the greatest potential for adoption and sustainability. The parent trial to this supplement seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of ERP compared to a control condition, Stress Management Training (SMT), on Veteran functioning. The current supplement adds a mixed-methods economic evaluation of ERP for OCD in Veterans. 

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