Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research
Board of Directors
|Odette Harris, MD, MPH||Chair|
|Jean Gurga, MA, OTR/L||Statutory VA Director||Interim Medical Center Director|
|Paul Heidenreich, MD||Secretary/Treasurer|
|Meghan Kemnec, ND||Statutory Non-Federal Director|
|Michael Kozal, MD||Statutory VA Director||Chief of Staff|
|Ware Kuschner, MD||Chair, Research & Development Committee|
|Jennifer Lee, MD, PhD||Statutory VA Director||Associate Chief of Staff for Research|
|Lawrence Leung, MD|
|Payam Massaband, MD||Statutory VA Director||Associate Chief of Staff for Education|
|Mark Nicolls, MD|
|Robert Sloss, JD||Statutory Non-Federal Director|
|Philip Tsao, PhD|
Odette Harris, MD, MPH
Dr. Harris serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff, Rehabilitation at Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) and as the Paralyzed Veterans of America Endowed Professor of Spinal Cord Injury Medicine in the Department of Neurosurgery, Stanford University School of Medicine. She previously served six years on the PAVIR Board of Directors and returned in September 2022 as its Chair after a year away from the Board.
As Deputy Chief of Staff, Rehabilitation at VAPAHCS, Dr. Harris is responsible for the varied programs of the Polytrauma System of Care, Spinal Cord Injury, Blind Rehabilitation Services, Recreational Therapy and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.
In her role as Director of Brain Injury for Stanford Medical Center, Dr. Odette Harris manages and coordinates the medical and surgical care of all patients suffering from traumatic brain injury that are admitted to the Stanford System. She focuses on implementing and streamlining current treatment algorithms aimed at improving the outcomes of this growing population. The primary focus is specific not only to mortality, but to functional outcome improvements with an emphasis on the role of gender in traumatic brain injury and its treatment.
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 also earned a Master of Public Health, Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Upon completing her neurosurgical residency, Dr. Harris was awarded the William Van Wagenen Fellowship from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. She completed her research related to this fellowship at the University of West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica where she also serves as Visiting Consultant in Neurosurgery.
Dr. Harris has authored several scientific articles and books, is a member of several editorial boards and national committees including as the Associate Editor for Neurosurgery and as an appointed Member, National Football League (NFL) Head, Neck and Spine Committee. She also serves on several Boards and is a Trustee for the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula, the Castilleja School and Dartmouth College. She is a Fellow of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and a member of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. Dr. Harris was appointed a Fellow of the Aspen Global Leadership Network in 2018. She was recognized in 2019 by Forbes and Ebony Magazine Power 100 List Award as one of 100 most influential African Americans and received the National Medical Fellowships (NMF) Award for Excellence in Academic Medicine.
Paul Heidenreich, MD
Director and Secretary/Treasurer
Dr. Paul Heidenreich is Chief of Medicine at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and Professor and Vice-Chair for Quality in the Department of Medicine in the Stanford University School of Medicine. He is a practicing non-invasive cardiologist and active health services researcher. Dr. Heidenreich has an extensive background in outcomes, quality of care and technology assessment. He is a recipient of a Life-Time Achievement Award from the American Heart Association Council for Quality of Care and Outcomes Research.
Meghan Kemnec, ND
Meghan Kemnec is a Naturopathic Doctor in private practice with a focus on primary care and preventative medicine. She is a Veteran who graduated from the US Naval Academy and later earned a Master of Business Administration prior to her medical studies. She is passionate about patient education as being an integral part of providing the best care. She successfully creates a safe space for patients and focuses on building relationships with patients to support and maintain continuity of care and effective case management. Dr. Kemnec joined the PAVIR Board of Directors in 2021.
Michael Kozal, MD
Dr. Kozal was appointed Chief of Staff at VA Palo Alto Health Care System in March, 2021. He had previously served in the same capacity at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. Dr. Kozal earned his medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he also completed his Internal Medicine residency. He completed a Fellowship in Infectious Disease at Stanford University School of Medicine. Throughout his career, he has held a number of leadership positions in diverse environments: biotechnology start-up, Medical Director of academic clinics, Medical Director of Public Health, Section Chief of Infectious Diseases, Director of the Yale HIV Clinical Trials Group, Scientific Advisory Board member, and Vice Chair of Medicine at Yale.
Ware Kuschner, MD
Dr. Kuschner is a practicing pulmonologist-intensivist and Section Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. He is a Professor of Medicine and Associate Chief for Faculty Affairs in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine at Stanford University. Dr. Kuschner serves as Medical Director of TeleQuit - the Veterans Integrated Service Network 21 Smoking Cessation Program. He also directs the VAPAHCS Bioethics consultation service.
Dr. Kuschner has an academic interest in occupational and environmental lung disease. He has conducted experimental human exposure studies characterizing the acute health effects of inhaled toxicants and population-based observational research studying health effects attributable to hazardous airborne exposures. He serves on the Executive Committee of a VA Cooperative Studies Program investigation that is characterizing the impact of deployment-related pollution exposures during the post-9/11 Gulf War Era on current respiratory health. He also conducts industry sponsored investigations of potential pulmonary therapeutics and novel diagnostic tests for lung cancer.
Dr. Kuschner earned his M.D. from Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City and he completed his fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Kuschner was appointed Chair of the VAPAHCS Research and Development Committee and joined the PAVIR Board of Directors in 2023.
Jennifer Lee, MD, PhD
Jennifer Lee is the Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Development at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS), and is an Associate Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology) and, by courtesy, of Health Research and Policy at Stanford University.
Dr. Lee graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with joint Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in Biological Sciences. She earned her M.D. from Harvard Medical School and completed her endocrinology and women’s health fellowships at UC San Francisco. She earned her Ph.D. from Stanford in Epidemiology with an emphasis in molecular and genetic epidemiology. Dr. Lee joined the PAVIR Board of Directors in 2018.
Lawrence L. Leung, MD
Dr. Lawrence L. Leung is a Staff Physician at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and the Maureen Lyles D'Ambrogio Professor in the School of Medicine. He was the VA Palo Alto Health Care System Chief of Staff from 2006 to 2020.
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.
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. Dr. Leung has served on the PAVIR Board since 2006.
Payam Massaband, MD
Dr. Massaband serves as the Associate Chief of Staff for Education at VAPAHCS and Vice Chair in the Stanford University Department of Radiology. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a B.S. in Neuroscience and from Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He has been a staff radiologist specializing in musculoskeletal and cardiovascular imaging since he completed Stanford Radiology Residency and Fellowship in 2010. He has previously served as the Chief of Radiology and Deputy Chief of Staff for Clinical Support Services at the VA Palo Alto and the Stanford Radiology Residency Program Director. As clinical associate professor and through these administrative roles he concentrates on clinical excellence, process improvement and residency education. He has a deep passion for furthering Veteran health and developing programs to provide the best care anywhere at VAPAHCS. Dr. Massaband joined the PAVIR Board in 2022.
Mark Nicolls, M.D.
Dr. Nicolls serves as a Staff Physician with a committed laboratory at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) and as a 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 VAPAHCS. 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 Chair of PAVIR's Board of Directors.
Robert Sloss, J.D.
Bob Sloss is a partner at the law firm Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP. He practices in intellectual property counseling and litigation, with experience in litigating patents related to a variety of technologies, including software, computer peripherals, mechanical devices and biotechnology, as well as matters involving copyright, trademark and trade secrets.
Mr. Sloss has appeared in courts throughout the U.S. and before the International Trade Commission and the Patent Trial and Appeals Board. He is admitted to practice in California State Courts, the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Federal and Ninth Circuits, the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Southern, Central and Eastern Districts of California, and the District of Colorado.
After receiving a B.A. in History, and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, both from Stanford, Mr. Sloss went on to earn his J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1979. He has been recognized by his peers for his high level of professional excellence with the Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent Rating. Mr. Sloss joined the PAVIR Board of Directors in 2017.
Philip Tsao, Ph.D.
Dr. Tsao is the Associate Chief of Staff for Precision Medicine at 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.