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.
David J. Clark, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Clark serves as the Director, Pain Relief Service, at 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 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 VAPAHCS. During this time he has served in several leadership roles, one of which was as the Chair of the Board of Directors at 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 and Pain Management. Dr. Clark was reappointed to the PAVIR Board of Directors in 2013.
Charlie Conz, MBA
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 leveraged his military and business experience to incorporate 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.
Thomas J. Fitzgerald III, CHESP
Thomas J. Fitzgerald, III is the Director of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. He was appointed to the position in June of 2017. Prior to that he was the VAPAHCS Deputy Director from February 2013 onward.
Mr. Fitzgerald oversees delivery of health care to more than 93,000 Veterans at the facility which covers 11 congressional districts and 10 counties located in northern California. VAPAHCS has an operating budget of $1.1 billion and over 7,000 employees and volunteers. 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 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 VAPAHCS, and then Assistant Director from October 2006 to May 2011 and the Associate Director May 2011 to February 2013.
Mr. Fitzgerald attended Grambling State University in Louisiana 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.
Dr. Odette Harris is a Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, Vice Chair, Diversity 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. 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. Dr. Harris works in a collaborative manner with colleagues in Surgical Trauma, Neuro-Critical Care, Nursing, Rehabilitation and all related Specialties.
She is the Deputy Chief of Staff, Rehabilitation at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, which includes responsibilities for the varied programs of the Polytrauma System of Care, Spinal Cord Injury, Blind Rehabilitation Services, Recreational Therapy and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. The programs hold regional and national oversight, as part of a national infrastructure.
As a Polytrauma Center, the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System encompasses Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center and Comprehensive Rehabilitation Centers, The Polytrauma Network Sites, The Polytrauma Transitional Program, the Regional Amputation Center and the Assistive Technology Center. The administrative, clinical, research and educational/training efforts related to these multiple and varying programs are her responsibility as the Deputy Chief of Staff.
Dr. Harris is also the Site Director and Principal Investigator of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) in Palo Alto. The Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System is one of the VA DVBIC Education 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 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. 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 including the Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research (PAVIR) and Defense Health Board's (DHB) Trauma and Injury Subcommittee.
She 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. 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. 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.
Dr. Harris 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. Dr. Harris was appointed to the PAVIR Board of Directors in 2016.
Jennifer Lee, M.D., Ph.D.
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, 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.
Ferid Murad, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Murad is a physician and pharmacologist, and a co-winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He currently serves as a Senior Research Advisor for PAVIR.
Dr. Murad earned his B.A. in chemistry from DePauw University, and his M.D. and Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University. He completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Murad’s distinguished career includes holding the position of the Chief of Medical Service at VAPAHCS from 1981-1986. At Stanford University, he served as a Professor in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology and as the Associate and Acting Chairman of the Department of Medicine. He left academia to oversee research at Abbott Laboratories as VP of Pharmaceutical Discovery and then later started his own biotech company. Dr. Murad went back to academics, joining the University of Texas Medical School at Houston to create a new department of integrative biology, pharmacology, and physiology. Most recently, he held an academic appointment at the George Washington University.
John Pollard, M.D.
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 Associate 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.
Rina N. Shah, M.D., F.A.C.P.
As of May 3, 2020, Dr. Shah is the Interim Chief of Staff at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS). Dr. Shah was previously appointed as the Deputy Chief of Staff, VAPAHCS. Dr. Shah is responsible for the clinical operations of a complex three-division health care system and seven community-based outpatient clinics. As a leader in VA, she is committed to the management and optimization of clinical care delivery, education, and research. Dr. Shah received her medical degree from Seth GS Medical College & KEM Hospital in Mumbai, India. She also completed her Internship and received a diploma in Medical Radiodiagnosis from KEM Hospital. Dr. Shah completed her Residency in Internal Medicine at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, and her Chief Residency in Internal Medicine at Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Riverside, California. Dr. Shah began her VA career in 1999 at the VA Loma Linda Healthcare System, where she held positions as Staff Physician and Co-Director of the Emergency Department. In 2003, she transferred to San Francisco VA Health Care System and served in various leadership roles there including Director of Medical Practice (Primary Care), Associate Chief of Staff of Ambulatory Care, Deputy Chief of Staff, and Interim Chief of Staff. Dr. Shah moved to VAPAHCS in 2018 and is currently a Clinical Professor (Affiliated) in the Clinician Educator line in the Department of Medicine, Division of Primary Care and Population Health at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
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.