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2021 DEI Research Supplement Awardees

VA ORD’s ability to ensure innovations in healthcare for the benefit of our nation’s Veterans is dependent upon fostering a pool of highly talented, motivated scientists from diverse backgrounds who will help to further VA’s mission. The first DEI Research Supplement awardees were announced in July 2021. They are:




Valerie Harris-Lewis

Valerie Harris-Lewis

Oklahoma City VAMC Scofield, R. Hal

Merit Award: Sex Chromosome Aneuploidies in Autoimmune Disease

Supplement description: Drs. Harris-Lewis and Scofield will continue work to determine the molecular basis of the X chromosome dose effect in autoimmune disease.

Nadir Balba

Nadir Balba

Portland VAMC

Lim, Miranda

Merit Award: Supplementation with Amino Acid Rehabilitative Therapy in TBI

(SmART-TBI): A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial to Improve Sleep

Supplement description: This supplement project will test the feasibility of a novel internet-delivered mindfulness intervention for Veterans with TBI/PTSD. 

Marva Foster

Bedford VAMC

McInnes, Keith

Merit Award: Capturing the Dynamics of Homelessness through Ethnography and Mobile Technology

Supplement description: This supplement project will study self-management behaviors among Veterans experiencing homelessness through use of mobile technology.

Melissa Chinchilla

Los Angeles VAMC

Young, Alexander  

Merit Award: Passive Mobile Self-Tracking of Mental Health by Veterans with Serious Mental Illness

Supplement description: This supplement project seeks to identify evidence-based care models that can be tailored to improve social integration, housing, and health for homeless-experienced Veterans with serious mental illness.

Letitia Graves

Letitia Graves

Cleveland VAMC

Bogie, Kath

Merit Award: Biomarkers for pressure injury risk following spinal cord injury: Development of a multi-scalar predictive model for personalized preventive health care

Supplement description: Identify potential biomarkers for pressure injury and identify symptoms and risk factors following spinal cord injury (SCI) with the goal of improving care and symptom management for Veterans with SCI.

Shamira Rothmiller

Shamira Rothmiller

Iowa City VAMC Hadlandsmyth, Katherine

Merit Award: Preventing Chronic Post-Surgical Pain and Prolonged Opioid Use: The Perioperative Pain Self-Management Program

Supplement description: This project seeks to explore racial healthcare disparities through the lens of provider-patient mistrust within the VHA.

Olamide Alabi

Olamide Alabi

Atlanta VAMC

Brewster, Luke

Merit Award: Molecular Repair of Diabetic Mesenchymal Stem Cells (dMSC) for Peripheral Arterial Disease

Supplement description: This project will address healthcare disparity and provide clinicians with better tools to inform peripheral arterial disease care in underserved/vulnerable Veteran populations.

Darius Dawson

Darius Dawson

Houston VAMC

Fletcher, Terri L

Cully, Jeffrey

Merit Award: A pragmatic trial of brief CBT for anxiety in VA primary care

Supplement description: To improve access to care for African American and Hispanic Veterans, this project will examine disparities among anxiety disorder presentation, mental health treatment in primary care, and mental health research participation. 

Briana Mason

Briana Mason

South Texas VAHCS

Collins, Gregory

Merit Award: Preclinical Psychopharmacology of Substance Abuse

Supplement description: This is a preclinical study looking at repurposing of chemokine receptor antagonists for treatment of substance use disorders.

A'mie Preston

A'mie Preston

Central Arkansas VAMC

Padala, Prasad

Merit Award: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Apathy in Mild Cognitive Impairment

Supplement description: This supplement project focuses on assessing feasibility of an immersive virtual reality (iVR) intervention for cognitively impaired older Veterans.

Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins

Philadelphia VAMC

Amol Navathe

Merit Award: Racial Bias in a VA Algorithm for High-Risk Veterans

Supplement description: This supplement project will develop a Racism focusEd Trauma INformed cAre (RETINA) Algorithm that uses predictive modeling to inform healthcare decision-making tools and clinical resource allocation for patients and providers in nephrology care.

DEI Research Profiles

VA grants first diversity, equity, and inclusion research awards
VA supports early career investigators from minority backgrounds through new research awards.... (09/10/2021)

Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele elected to National Academy of Medicine
Health disparities researcher Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) during its annual meeting on Oct. 18, 2021. This honor recognizes outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. (11-01-2021)

Selected Reading

From HRO to HERO
Making Health Equity a Core System Capability
Moy, Ernest MD1; Hausmann, Leslie R. M. PhD2; Clancy, Carolyn M. MD3
American Journal of Medical Quality: September 8, 2021


As many health systems have been working to become high-reliability organizations (HROs), health equity has been largely absent from discussions and applications of HRO principles. This is a serious oversight. Disparities in health and health care represent systematic failures to achieve reliable outcomes for certain groups. Acceptance of disparities is antithetical to the essential HRO goal of “zero harm.” We propose adding Equity to HROs in the most literal sense by designating it as a key component and achieving High Equity Reliability Organizations. We describe how equity should be a crucial element of all 5 HRO core concepts: sensitivity to operations, preoccupation with failure, deference to expertise, resilience, and reluctance to simplify.

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