Board of Directors

Mark Nicolls, M.D.
Board Chair

Dr. Nicolls serves as a Staff Physician with a committed laboratory at the VAPAHCS; and as an Associate Professor and Chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Stanford University.

He earned his B.S. in Biology at the University of Portland, Portland, OR in 1987 and his M.D at Stanford University in 1993.  He continued on at Stanford for his Internal Medicine Internship and Residency at the same institution, followed by a Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship at the University of Colorado in Denver where he subsequently joined the Faculty.  In 2007, Dr. Nicolls was recruited onto the Stanford faculty and is a physician-investigator at the Palo Alto VA. He is Director of the Stanford Lung Immunology Program.  In 2014, he was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

Dr. Nicolls’s laboratory and clinical interests are centered on the contribution of immunity to diseases such as pulmonary hypertension and lung transplantation. He is specifically interested in the interplay between inflammation and vascular injury. Dr. Nicolls joined the PAVIR Board of Directors in 2014, and is currently serving as the Board Chair.

PAVIR has a tradition of focusing on researchers’ needs. It is a privilege to be involved in leading PAVIR, and I am committed to PAVIR’s action-oriented and process improvement culture. My efforts will focus on PAVIR’s role in promoting the best possible clinical and bench research at the VAPAHCS.

bod-clark-davidDavid J. Clark, M.D., Ph.D.
Director

Dr. Clark serves as the Director, Pain Relief Service, VAPAHCS at the VAPAHCS; and as Professor and Vice-Chair for Research in the Department of Anesthesiology, Pain and Perioperative Medicine at Stanford University.

He earned his B.A in Chemistry at the Carleton College, Northfield, MN in 1985, his Ph.D in Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN in 1991, and his M.D. at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN in 1992.  After his Medicine Internship at the same institution, he joined the University of Washington, Seattle, WA and completed his anesthesiology Residency in 1996, and a Pain Management Clinical and Research Fellowship in 1998.

In 1998, Dr. Clark joined the Stanford faculty and is a physician-investigator at the Palo Alto VA. During this time he has served in several leadership roles.  Most recently, he was elected to the position of the Chair of the Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research. This experience has given him a profound appreciation for the role PAVIR plays in supporting research at the VA and the many collaborations PAVIR investigators generate.

Dr. Clark’s laboratory and clinical interests involve pain and the mechanisms by which analgesic drugs relieve pain. He is specifically interested in genetic, epigenetic and immune factors that worsen pain and limit the effectiveness of our best medications. Dr. Clark is a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the International Association for the Study of Pain. He is a Handling Editor for the Journal Anesthesiology. Dr. Clark holds Board certifications in Anesthesiology in Anesthesiology and Pain Management.  Dr. Clark was reappointed to the PAVIR Board of Directors in 2013.


charlie-conzCharlie Conz, MBA
Director

Charlie Conz is the Managing Partner of Chronic Zeal Incorporated.  Charlie served in the US Army in a variety of leadership positions as a Field Artillery Officer and currently participates in numerous Veterans activities.

After the Army, Mr. Conz started his business career as a shift supervisor for Corning Glass Works.  In 1997 Charlie leverage his military and business experience to incorporated Chronic Zeal.  While at Chronic Zeal he has successfully led business optimization projects at Cisco, Sony Electronics, Applied Materials, Seagate, Auto Zone, Boeing, Coherent Technologies and Toshiba.

Mr. Conz has a Bachelors Degree in Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Harvard University.  He joined the PAVIR Board of Directors in 2015.


fitzgerald-thomasThomas J. Fitzgerald III, CHESP
Interim Director

Thomas J. Fitzgerald III is the Deputy Director at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. He was appointed to the position February 2013.

His duties and responsibilities include serving as the Chief Operating Officer for the Health Care System. As a member of the executive leadership team, he oversees one of the most complex facilities in the VA system with an annual budget in excess of $1.1 Billion, more than 6,300 staff and volunteers, 808 operating beds spread between three divisions, and a myriad of special programs. He also has an important role in maintaining a cooperative and supportive relationship with the health care system’s educational affiliate Stanford University School of Medicine, as well as other affiliations in allied health programs and community health institutions.

Mr. Fitzgerald is a service-connected disabled Veteran who served in the U.S. Army for 16 years as a medical non-commissioned officer. During that time, he served in support of Operation Desert Storm. Mr. Fitzgerald began his VA Career in 1988 as a Nursing Assistant at the North Chicago VA Medical Center, Ill., in numerous positions, including Housekeeping Aid, Housekeeping Assistant General Foreman, Assistant Chief Environmental Care and Operations, and the Chief of Environmental Care and Operations. He served as Chief of Environmental Management Service at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, and the Assistant Director at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System from October 2006 to May 2011 and the Associate Director May 2011 to February 2013.

Mr. Fitzgerald attended Grambling State University, La., on a football scholarship. He is also a graduate of American Intercontinental University, the VA management development course (VAMD, in conjunction with the University of Alabama Birmingham), the Leadership VA 2003 class, and Health Care Leadership Institute 2007. Mr. Fitzgerald joined the PAVIR Board of Directors in 2016.


Odette Harris, M.D.
Director

Dr. Odette Harris is an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine and Director of Brain Injury for Stanford Medical Center.
Dr. Harris manages and coordinates the medical and surgical care of all patients suffering from traumatic brain injury that are admitted to the Stanford System.

Dr. Harris is the Associate Chief of Staff, Rehabilitation at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, inclusive of Polytrauma System of Care, Spinal Cord Injury, Blind Rehabilitation Services and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Service. The administrative, clinical, research and educational/training efforts related to these multiple and varying programs are her responsibility as the Associate Chief of Staff, Rehabilitation.

Dr. Harris is also the Site Director and Principal Investigator of the Defense Veterans and Brain Injury Center (DVBIC). The Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System is one of 5 VA sites. The administrative and educational efforts for the organization are her responsibility as the Site Director and Principal Investigator. The primary focus of DVBIC is TBI specific evaluation, treatment and follow-up care for all military personnel, veterans and their dependents. This encompasses TBI specific research, training and education.

Dr. Harris graduated from Dartmouth College and received her MD degree from Stanford University School of Medicine. She received numerous academic and research awards at both institutions. She did her internship and residency at Stanford University Medical Center Stanford, California. She also earned a Masters of Public Health, Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley. Upon completing her neurosurgical residency, Dr. Harris was awarded the William VanWagenen Fellowship from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Dr. Harris has authored several scientific articles and books, is a member of several Editorial Boards and National Committees, and has won numerous academic, research and humanitarian awards including the Congress of Neurological Surgeons Clinical Fellowship Award, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons Spinal Cord/Spinal Column Injury Award and the Western Neurosurgical Society Resident Award for research on minor traumatic brain injury. Her research efforts have also been recognized by the government of Jamaica; where she was awarded the National Road Safety Council Award for outstanding contribution in traumatic brain injury.

Dr. Harris is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. Dr. Harris was appointed to the PAVIR Board of Directors in 2016.


bod-jelsma-phillipPhillip L. Jelsma, J.D.
Director

Phil Jelsma is a partner at the international law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP.  He practices in limited liability company and partnership business and income tax planning, with an emphasis on real estate and nonprofit corporations. Mr. Jelsma also has experience in real estate exchange transactions, nonprofit corporations and international tax planning. His corporate merger and acquisition experience includes representation of buyers and sellers in consolidations, stock and asset purchases, management buyouts, and related transactions. He advises regarding entity formation, fiduciary duties, interpartner relationships, the issuance of stock and other ownership interests, recapitalizations and reorganizations, officer and director issues, corporate governance, stock option and appreciation rights plans, and contract preparation.

Mr. Jelsma earned his J.D. at Stanford Law School in 1986 and has been recognized as an outstanding lawyer with the Martindale-Hubbell® AV Rating, the The Best Lawyers in America® – Lawyer of the Year: 2011 (Tax Law), and The Best Lawyers in America® – Most Recent Listing: 2014 (Tax Law).  He also has a long standing interest and many years of nonprofit Board service in education, veteran and military, as well as research focused nonprofit corporations.  Mr. Jelsma joined the PAVIR Board of Directors in 2014.


bod-leung-lawrenceLawrence L. Leung, M.D.
Director and Secretary/Treasurer

Dr. Lawrence L. Leung is the Chief of Staff at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. He was appointed to the position on May 28, 2006.

Dr. Leung is responsible for a complex three-division health care system and seven community-based outpatient clinics (CBOC). In addition, he has a leadership role in promoting the ongoing collaboration in research, clinical care, and graduate medical education with the health care system’s educational affiliate Stanford University School of Medicine.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Dr. Leung received his M.D. in 1975 from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He completed his medical residency and obtained his hematology-oncology fellowship training at Cornell-New York Hospital.

In 2002, he was promoted to Professor of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and served as Chief of the Division of Hematology from 1995 until February 2004, when he assumed the position of Chief of Medical Service at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. In 2004, he was awarded the Maureen Lyles D’Ambrogio endowed professorship in the Stanford School of Medicine. In addition to being Chief of Staff, he serves as Senior Associate Dean for Veterans Affairs at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Dr. Leung’s clinical interest is in bleeding and thrombotic disorders. His research focuses on blood clotting factors and their roles in thrombosis, inflammation and immunity, and the emerging field of personalized genomic medicine. Dr. Leung is a member of the Association of American Physicians, American Society for Clinical Investigation, American Society of Hematology, and the American Heart Association. He has served on study sections of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Hematology Subspecialty Board of the American Board of Internal Medicine. He has been recognized as one of America’s Top Doctors every year since 2001, and is an Editor-in-Chief for Hematology in UpToDate.  Dr. Leung has served on the PAVIR Board since 2006. He was elected to serve as the Secretary / Treasurer in 2015.


 John Pollard, M.D.
Director and member of the Audit Committee

Dr. Pollard serves as the Associate Chief of Staff for Education at the VAPAHCS.  He graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Business in 1981 and from Duke Medical School in 1988. He completed his internship (Internal Medicine at Stanford) in 1989 and the Stanford Anesthesia Residency program in 1992.

Dr. Pollard began working as a staff physician at the VA Palo Alto in 1992. He has served as the Medical Director of the Outpatient Surgery Preoperative Evaluation Clinic since 1994.  He has served as the Chief of Staff for Education since 1997.   His two main research interests are related to optimizing the preoperative assessment of patients and interventions to minimize the cardiovascular changes associated with spinal anesthesia. Dr. Pollard joined the PAVIR Board of Directors in 1997.


Philip Tsao, Ph.D.
Director and Chair of the Audit Committee

Dr. Tsao is the Associate Chief of Staff/Research at the VAPAHCS; and has an academic appointment as Professor (Research) in Medicine – Cardiovascular Medicine at Stanford University.  He earned his Ph.D in Cardiovascular Physiology at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA in 1991. Dr. Tsao completed his Post-doc in Cardiovascular Medicine in 1995, and subsequently joined the faculty at Stanford University in 2002.

Dr. Tsao’s primary research interests are in understanding the molecular underpinnings of vascular disease as well as assessing disease risk. His laboratory uses a wide range of biochemical, molecular and physiological techniques to make primary observations in cell systems as well as preclinical models. Furthermore, his research work is aimed at extending its findings to human subjects in order to confirm their clinical applicability.  In this vein, a major focus of his research is related to the VA funded Million Veteran Program, a national VA effort to consolidate genetic, military exposure, health, and lifestyle information together in one single database.  The trailblazing underpinning of this program is that by identifying gene-health connections, it could advance more effective, personalized therapies.

Dr. Tsao enjoys teaching the next generation of researchers, as indicated by this academic lectures and guidance of numerous students’ independent studies.  He was recognized for his love of teaching by the Department of Medicine Teaching award, Stanford, in 2003.  He continues to publish his work in first tier publications such as the Annual Review of Medicine, and Science Translational Medicine.   Dr. Tsao joined the PAVIR Board of Directors in 2010.