Office of Research & Development

VA Researchers Who Served

VA researchers who servedQ&As with VA investigators who served in the military about what inspired their military and research careers, and how their work today is helping their fellow Veterans

Dr. C. Scott Smith Dr. Gail Cresci (07/16/18)
Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center
Main area of study: Gastroenterology

"As an active-duty dietitian in the Army, I was able to experience firsthand the exposures that service members and Veterans have to many nutritionally related digestive disorders."

Dr. C. Scott Smith Dr. C. Scott Smith (06/21/18)
Boise VA Medical Center
Main area of study: Medical education

"Service to country has been a tradition in my family. My father was a tank commander in the Korean War."

Dr. Yani Leyva Dr. Yani Leyva (06/11/18)
VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Main area of study: Clinical psychology

"My military involvement has taught me a lot about my strengths, my capabilities, and my ability to work efficiently and effectively with people on and outside of my team."

Dr. Jeffrey Jones Dr. Jeffrey Jones (05/29/18)
Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
Main area of study: Urology

"I have always wanted to 'push the envelope' with patient care to improve the lives of our patients, especially those afflicted with the devastation of cancer."

Dr. Jeff Smith Dr. John Ney (05/25/18)
Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital
Main area of study: Neurology

"I learned how to conduct medicine in very austere conditions, without access to nursing, lab work, or blood in a very up-tempo combat environment."

Dr. Jeff Smith Dr. Jeff Smith (05/17/18)
Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital
Main area of study: Prostate cancer

"I can honestly say that my military experience, albeit brief, is something that I cherish to this very day."

Dr. Kenneth Heilman Dr. Kenneth Heilman (04/10/18)
Malcom Randall VA Medical Center
Main area of study: Neurology

"My first mentor [my high school geometry teacher] taught me the joyful reward of solving a problem."

Dr. Matthew Bair Dr. Matthew Bair (04/05/18)
Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center
Main area of study: Pain management

"I truly loved caring for military personnel and their families. Working and conducting research in VA feels like 'home.'"

Dr. Michael Russell Dr. Michael Russell (04/04/18)
Central Texas Veterans Health Care System
Main area of study: Mental health

"Without the right data, we weren't going to succeed. So I set out to be the Army's suicide expert."

Dr. Justin Benzer Dr. Justin Benzer (03/12/18)
Central Texas Veterans Health Care System
Main area of study: Industrial-organizational psychology

"I've seen that VA researchers, and in particular those in VA research centers, are really collaborative and supportive. They want to mentor junior researchers."

Dr. Kiersten Downs  Dr. Kiersten Downs (03/07/18)
James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital
Main area of study: Community reintegration

"As I set out on a path to become a VA researcher, I feverishly consumed the work of VA anthropologists like Erin Finley, Sarah Ono, and Ann Cheney. These incredible women made me realize that there is a place for the kind of work I want to do in VA."

Dr. Gina McCaskill Dr. Gina McCaskill (03/07/18)
Birmingham, Alabama VA Medical Center
Main area of study: Geriatric research

"I'm especially interested in improving the quality of life and well-being of older Veterans who have multiple chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and osteoarthritis."

Dr. Roy Bloebaum Dr. Roy Bloebaum (02/28/18)
VA Salt Lake City Health Care System
Main area of study: Prosthetics

"If it's easy, you're in the wrong job."

Dr. Gabriel Gonzalez Dr. Gabriel Gonzalez (02/27/18)
VA Boston Healthcare System
Main area of study: Regenerative medicine

"My research career was inspired [in part] by science-fiction literature and television programming that focused on science and technology, such as the Discovery Channel network."

Dr. Racine Brown Dr. Racine Brown (02/14/18)
James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital
Main area of study: Traumatic brain injury

"My military and Veteran experience amplifies in my mind the importance of health research to benefit Veterans."

Dr. Jeff Pyne Dr. Jeff Pyne (01/18/18)
Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System
Main area of study: PTSD

"I asked one of my mentors how he chose problems to study. He said he chose problems that made him angry."

Dr. Sol Solomon Dr. Sol Solomon (01/12/18)
Memphis VA Medical Center
Main area of study: Diabetes

"When the Air Force told me I'd be stationed at Ramstein outside of Munich, Germany, I declined because the entire Polish side of my family had perished in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz."

Dr. John Davis Dr. John Davis (12/27/17)
VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System
Main area of study: Reproductive health

"I've always felt that my military experience allows me to relate more directly to patients and staff at VA medical centers."

Dr. Daniel Bikle Dr. Daniel Bikle (12/13/17)
San Francisco VA Medical Center
Main area of study: Bone and mineral metabolism

"It's very important to believe in yourself, strive to understand, respond positively to critiques, and to seek out others with whom you can collaborate to advance in your work."

Dr. Joshua Lipschutz Dr. Joshua Lipschutz (11/28/17)
Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Main area of study: Kidney disease

"I had always wanted to serve, and 9-11 just propelled me to be in the military. It was something I had to do."

Dr. Michael Simberkoff Dr. Michael Simberkoff (11/16/17)
VA New York Harbor Healthcare System
Main area of study: Infectious diseases

"I enjoyed and continue to enjoy working with Veterans. They are the most deserving group of patients we can serve."

Dr. Stuart Johnson Dr. Stuart Johnson (11/7/17)
Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital
Main area of study: Infectious diseases

"My experience in the military, particularly at a time when it was unpopular and when no one was saying 'thank you for your service' after we came home, helps me bond with many Veterans disaffected by wars and society."

Dr. Rory Coooper Dr. Rory Cooper (10/2/17)
VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
Main area of study: Wheelchair and other adaptive technology

"After my injury, I had to plot a new course in life. I don't think that it matters anymore. I've found my calling...."

Dr.  Ronald Riechers Dr. Ronald Riechers (8/25/17)
Louis Stokes VA Medical Center
Main area of study: Traumatic brain injury

"Whether it is simply having the shared experience of shining and wearing combat boots, carrying a rucksack, eating a ready-to-eat meal, or having seen the acute effects of an IED...all of these experiences provide familiarity to patients and can be key to establishing rapport."

Dr. Dennis Stevens Dr. Dennis Stevens (8/24/17)
Boise VA Medical Center
Main area of study: Infectious diseases

"Being a Veteran has improved my compassion for other Veterans and has provided more insight into current and future needs for our Veterans."

Dr. Arnold Postlethwaite Dr. Arnold Postlethwaite (8/2/17)
Memphis VA Medical Center
Main area of study: Arthritis and related disorders

"Being a Vet myself creates a connection to Veterans that is different from the connections I have to patients who are not Veterans."

Dr. Mary Jo Pugh Dr. Mary Jo Pugh (7/31/17)
South Texas Veterans Health Care System
Main area of study: Diabetes, epilepsy, and geriatric care

"Being a Veteran definitely fuels my passion to find answers."

April Ahrendt Dr. Paul Arthur (6/22/17)
North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System
Main area of study: Dementia and caregiving

"It is an extraordinary task to pull Veterans from the military mindset of 'adapt and overcome.'"

Dr. Frank Greco Dr. Frank Greco (6/6/17)
Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital
Main area of study: Application of physical and mathematical methods to solve medical problems

"My research involves applying mathematical and physical methods to solve medical problems."

April Ahrendt April Ahrendt (5/25/17)
Sioux Falls VA Health Care System
Main area of study: Weight management

"I feel that being a Vet gives me some insight into military-connected health conditions that need more research for prevention and treatment."


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