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Research News

Congratulations to our New VA HSR&D Researchers and Evaluators in Residence!

June 7, 2019

Under the VA National and VISN Researchers and Evaluators in Residence Program, HSR&D has funded five VA researchers to spend time in clinical program or VISN offices to help with analysis and to bring research knowledge to policy and program planning. Program or operations offices will benefit from advanced analytic expertise and access to a network of research knowledge. HSR&D researchers will benefit by increasing their understanding of national policy and operations questions that need to be answered, with access to the operational data available to answer them.

The following HSR&D researchers were selected from a pool of highly competitive applications:

Jessica Davila, PhD, will work with the Office of Academic Affiliations on “Evaluation Plan Development for the Rural Health Faculty Development Project.” Dr. Davila is a clinical epidemiologist and health services researcher at the Houston VA Medical Center, and part of HSR&D’s Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety (IQuESt). She has extensive experience in health services research, evaluation, and medical education. She has conducted numerous studies using both quantitative and qualitative data sources, in addition to having worked extensively with VA administrative files, electronic medical record information, and survey data. Her long-term research interests are in medical education research and evaluation.

Marina Kukla, PhD, will work with the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (OMHSP), in the Office of Therapeutic and Supported Employment Services (TSES) on “Analysis of Participation in VHA's Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) Programs and Associate Outcomes.” Dr. Kukla is a clinical psychologist and research scientist at HSR&D’s Center for Health Information and Communication (CHIC), with extensive experience leading studies examining employment service models and approaches, such as supported employment for adults with disabilities. Her work also focuses on examination of important recovery and mental health outcomes of Veterans receiving Compensated Work Therapy services. Her research interests include the further development and testing of innovative and augmentative interventions to improve work and recovery outcomes in vulnerable Veteran groups.

Elani Streja, PhD, will work with the VHA Kidney Disease and Dialysis Program on “Analysis of Chronic Kidney Disease Rates and Factors in VA.” Dr. Streja is a health science specialist at the Long Beach VA Medical Center, and a current CSR&D Career Development Awardee with a focus on chronic kidney disease. She has extensive experience in epidemiological and statistical analyses. Her existing work has largely focused on the study of kidney disease and dialysis treatments.

Melanie Whittington, PhD, will work with VISN 8 (VA sunshine Healthcare Network) on “Integration of PACT, PCMHI Principles, and Whole Health: Analysis of the VISN 8 Integrated Care Model and Associated Outcomes.” Dr. Whittington is a health services researcher at the Denver VA Medical Center, and part of HSR&D’s Denver-Seattle Center for Veteran-Centered and Value Driven Care (DiSCoVVR). Her work focuses on evaluating health and economic outcomes associated with the implementation of healthcare interventions and policy changes in VA. Dr. Whittington has extensive experience in advanced econometric techniques and in using difference in differences specifications and interrupted time series analyses. She is involved in a number of projects, ranging from the evaluation of cost and utilization patterns to the development of decision analytic models.

Linda Williams, MD, will work with VISN 10 on “Analysis and Development of Population Health Dashboards.” Dr. Williams is a vascular neurologist at the Indianapolis VA Medical Center and part of HSR&D’s Center for Health Information and Communication (CHIC). She has extensive experience using VHA data to measure the quality of inpatient and outpatient stroke care. Her work has focused on developing and deploying predictive models, in addition to leading the work to develop the stroke electronic quality measures currently in use by VHA nationally. Her long-term research interests are to use data at the point of care to transform VHA healthcare and improve Veterans’ health outcomes.

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