Office of Research & Development
Office of Research & Development
In observance of National VA Research Week, VA's Office of Research and Development hosted a symposium to highlight the work of four groundbreaking VA investigators. Each has been recognized for outstanding research that has advanced knowledge in their fields and improved the lives of Veterans and others. The awardees are Dr. Leigh Hochberg, VA Providence Health Care System; Dr. Louis Dell'Italia, Birmingham VA Health Care System; Dr. Donna Washington, Greater Los Angeles Health Care System; and Dr. Robert Bonomo, Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.
View the event archive.
Dr. Leigh Hochberg / VA Providence Health Care System, Rhode Island
Leigh Hochberg, M.D.
Leigh Hochberg, M.D., is director of the VA Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology (CfNN). Hochberg and his colleagues at CfNN are developing cutting-edge technologies to assist Veterans with paralysis to navigate their environments and communicate with others. The center is a collaboration between VA Providence Healthcare System, Brown University, Butler Hospital, Lifespan, and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Hochberg is also director of the BrainGate clinical trials which are focused on developing and testing intracortical brain-computer interfaces (BCI). He and his colleagues demonstrated that people with cervical spinal cord injury could control a computer cursor or robotic arm using their brain activity alone. Investigators implanted electrodes in participants' motor cortex to transmit neural impulses to a computer, allowing the participants to control external devices just by thinking about the movement of their own hand.
Dr. Louis Dell’Italia / Birmingham VA Health Care System, Alabama
Dr. Louis Dell'Italia
Louis Dell'Italia, M.D., has been a VA researcher for more than 30 years and has served as associate chief of staff for research at the Birmingham VA Health Care System for more than 12 years. His work has helped to advance the understanding and treatment of serious cardiovascular disorders, like myocardial infarction or heart attack, that affect Veterans and many others.
Dell'Italia is internationally recognized for his contributions to three key areas of cardiovascular disease: right ventricular myocardial infarction, mitral valve regurgitation, and the renin angiotensin chymase system (RAS). He is known for translational research that starts in the laboratory with animals and moves to patient-oriented research that creates new clinical treatments.
Dr. Donna Washington / Greater Los Angeles Health Care System, California
Donna Washington, M.D.
Donna Washington, M.D., has devoted her career to addressing the healthcare needs of vulnerable and underserved populations, particularly racial/ethnic minorities and women Veterans. She is a general internist and a core investigator with HSR&D’s Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation, Implementation, and Policy (CSHIIP) in Los Angeles, CA. In collaboration with VA’s Office of Health Equity (OHE), she was a chief architect of VA’s first ever National Veterans Health Equity Report.
Over her career, Dr. Washington has worked to advance research methods so that VA can better discern what factors drive racial-ethnic disparities in health care. Her approaches demonstrate how social determinants of health among racial-ethnic minorities in VA can undermine even the best models of care.
Dr. Robert Bonomo / Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, Ohio
Robert A. Bonomo, M.D.
Robert A. Bonomo, M.D., is director of the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. He is professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and is considered a leader in the field of antibiotic resistance. He was the lead on the VA Office of Research and Development's strategic response to COVID-19.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, VA Research launched a quick response to help Veterans and others affected by the disease. These efforts included research, therapeutics, vaccine clinical trials, and data analyses that leverage VA's electronic health record system. VA has coordinated closely with internal and external partners—such as the National Institutes of Health and pharmaceutical companies—to identify the areas in which VA's nationwide research capacity, resources, and infrastructure could make the greatest contribution.
If you are interested in a more in-depth look at the scientific achievements of our award-winning researchers, the 2021 VA Research Week Awardees Symposium is archived here.