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War Related Illness and Injury Study Center

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CA WRIISC's Staff

Who We Are

The War Related Illness and Injury Study Center at the Palo Alto, CA Campus of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (CA WRIISC), established in 2007 is the third such center funded by VA. We provide consultation services for post-deployment Veterans with a complex medical history that includes tests and treatment with little to no symptom improvement; possible deployment related environmental exposures; and for primary care physicians (PCP) who desire a second opinion using a multi-specialty team approach.

Our center utilizes a team of clinicians, researchers and educators who thoroughly review the history of the current complaint and offer recommendations for further testing and treatment. Veterans are referred to our clinic by their PCP through the WRIISC consult process in the VA Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS).

Our Staff

 

Wes Ashford, MD, PhD
Wes Ashford, MD, PhD
  • Position: Director

Dr. Ashford is the Director of the WRIISC at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, a Clinical Professor (affiliated) in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, a Senior Research Scientist at the Stanford/VA Aging Clinical Research Center and Alzheimer's Center, and a staff psychiatrist at the VAPAHCS. Dr. Ashford is an authority on Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and experienced in the recognition, diagnosis, and treatment of these and numerous other neuropsychiatric disorders. He has contributed major innovations to the fields of neuropsychological testing, brain imaging, and dementia treatment, with more than 100 scientific publications on Alzheimer's disease, MCI, genetic factors in Alzheimer's disease, and testing methodologies.

Dr. Ashford is a Scientific Board Member of the Northern California Alzheimer's Association and Chair of the Memory Screening Advisory Board for the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. Dr. Ashford's training includes a BA from UC-Berkeley; an MD from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; and a PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA, where he set up the Alzheimer's PET Scan Study. He is a prolific scientific writer and speaker as well as a frequent presenter at international conferences.

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Maheen Adamson, PhD
Maheen Adamson, PhD
  • Position: Deputy Director of Research and PhD Fellowships

Dr. Adamson is the Deputy Director of Research and PhD Fellowships at the WRIISC at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) and a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. She holds a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Southern California, and completed a post-doctoral Fellowship in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University Medical School.

Dr. Adamson’s primary area of research is investigating structural and functional changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease and Traumatic Brain Injury. Her past research studies have focused on understanding the influence of genetics risk factors for Alzheimer Disease, age, skill learning, and brain structure and function on real-world tasks such as flying or driving in older adults. As the current Director for Research and PhD fellowships at WRIISC her responsibilities include managing overall research efforts to understand and recommend treatments for chronic multiple illness complaints in Veterans including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She is currently a PI for “Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) for Improving Cognition in TBI”, PI for “Neurocorrelates for PTSD & TBI” and Co-PI for VA Merit Award “rTMS for Treatment of Pain in GW1 Veterans”. She directs a diverse team (nurse, clinical and research staff, and research assistants) to develop the protocol for initializing and running several studies including management of the WRIISC clinical database and neuroimaging protocols. Dr. Adamson has authored several peer-reviewed publications on cognitive and neural basis of Alzheimer’s disease and TBI and is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences. She is also heavily involved in Veteran health and education as well as mentoring of Stanford/WRIISC postdoctoral fellows.

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Peter Bayley, PhD
Peter Bayley, PhD
  • Position: Associate Director of Cognitive Neuroscience

Dr. Bayley serves as a neuroscientist at the WRIISC. He has a research background in basic neuroscience and cognitive neuroscience and his research interests focus on memory disorders. He performed graduate research at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) where he studied memory disorders in patients with various forms of dementia. He completed his postdoctoral training at UCSD in the study of learning and memory in patients with brain lesions using brain imaging and neuropsychological techniques.

His current research interests include the identification of objective measures of traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder using both brain imaging and cognitive testing. He also has an interest in early detection of dementia and is a member of the Memory Screening Advisory Board for the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, and is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Sandra Bell (Scaling), MSN, RN, CNL
Sandra Scaling
  • Position: Deputy Director of Clinical Care

Sandra Bell is Clinical Coordinator of the California War Related Illness and Injury Study Center at the VA Palo Alto.  She received her Master's Degree in Nursing from the University of San Francisco in 2011.  Additionally, Ms. Bell is a certified Clinical Nurse Leader and a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.  Ms. Bell is honored to have the opportunity to serve America's Veterans.

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Jauhtai Joseph Cheng, MD
Jauhtai Joseph Cheng, MD
  • Position: Neurologist

Dr. Cheng is a staff neurologist at the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System and is the primary neurology consultant for the CA WRIISC. Dr. Cheng received his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati, completed his internship in internal medicine and residency in neurology at the Mayo Graduate Clinic in Minnesota, and a fellowship in neurology at the University of California, Davis.

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Kaci Fairchild, PhD
Kaci Fairchild, PhD
  • Position: Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Kaci Fairchild is a Clinical Psychologist at the Mental Illness Research Education Center (MIRECC) and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine. She obtained her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Alabama and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical geropsychology at the Advanced Fellowship Program in Mental Illness Research and Treatment, VA Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University School of Medicine.

Dr. Fairchild has a strong commitment to clinical care, institutional service and research. She has pioneered new programs of clinical care through our MIRECC and in collaboration with other local centers and clinics, particularly the Stanford/VA Alzheimer’s Research Center and the WRIISC. Her clinical care includes implementing, testing and developing novel behavioral, psychotherapeutic, supportive and biological interventions with young and old. She has also developed a programmatic line of research in the development and implementation of efficacious non-pharmacological interventions for cognitive and neuropsychiatric disorders. She has authored numerous papers on aging, cognition, and neuropsychiatric disorders.

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Ansgar Furst, PhD
Ansgar Furst, PhD
  • Position: Associate Director of Neuroimaging Laboratory

Dr. Furst is Associate Director of the Neuroimaging Laboratory at the WRIISC in Palo Alto, California and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University Medical School.

Dr. Furst, a native of Germany and former officer in the German air force, received his MSc and PhD degrees in England where he trained with some of the leaders in short-term memory research Professors Graham Hitch and Alan Baddeley. He discovered his passion for neuroimaging during his post-doctoral training at the Henry H. Wheeler Brain Imaging Center at the University of California, at Berkeley (Director: Professor Mark D’Esposito). His initial research focused on basic science functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) but he was later given the unique opportunity to work on a novel positron emission tomography (PET) diagnostic tracer for amyloid called Pittsburgh compound-B (PiB), under the mentorship of Prof. William Jagust, a renowned leader in imaging of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). This breakthrough in diagnostic imaging of AD allows the in vivo quantification of beta-amyloid plaques (one of the hallmarks of the disease) through a PET brain scan.

Together with his close collaborator Dr. Gil Rabinovici, Dr. Furst published the first west coast publication using PiB in 2007 demonstrating the usefulness of the compound in distinguishing AD from Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD) another common neurodegenerative diseases. His work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals and has received praise from the American Academy of Neurology and multiple awards from the Alzheimer’s Association. Dr. Furst has recently joined the editorial board of the medical journal Neurology and recently co-edited a book on neuroimaging of Alzheimer’s disease. He also serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Currently his research interest has expanded into Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) for studying Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). He is exploring the feasibility of DTI as a tool for improving early diagnosis and long-term outcomes of Veterans with TBI.

Dr. Furst is also a Tai Chi instructor and teaches Tai Chi to Veterans and VA employees as a VA volunteer.

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Nathan Hantke, PhD
Nathan Hantke, PhD
  • Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Nathan Hantke is currently a joint postdoctoral fellow with the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System and Stanford University School of Medicine, where he conducts clinical neuropsychological evaluations and performs research examining the neuropsychology of aging. Dr. Hantke received his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Marquette University, where he studied risk factors for future cognitive decline via neuroimaging. He completed his clinical internship at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

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Linda Isaac, PhD
Linda Isaac, PhD
  • Position: Clinical Neuroscience Research

Dr. Linda Isaac is a cognitive psychologist who specializes in clinical neuroscience research. She is currently a researcher at WRIISC and the Department Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, School of Medicine. Dr. Isaac conducted her thesis work at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience where she studied face processing strategies in a rare genetic disorder (Williams Syndrome). Dr. Isaac also completed a pre-doctoral research fellowship in anxiety and psychophysiology at Stanford University. She has international research and teaching experience from her appointment at Radboud University in the Netherlands where she taught several research methodology courses and used EEG to study cognition and emotion. Dr. Isaac is interested in using neuroimaging techniques to study prefrontal (dys)function, in particular, neural substrates associated with emotional processing and the interaction of emotion and executive function in neuropsychiatric illness (depression, PTSD). She is particularly interested in characterizing brain alterations that lead to emotion dysregulation in these populations using a combination of neuroimaging methods (fMRI & EEG).

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Michelle Madore, PhD
Michelle Madore, PhD
  • Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Bio will be available soon.

Louise Mahoney, MS, RYT
Louise Mahoney, MS, RYT
  • Position: Deputy Director of Education and Risk Communication
    Program Director, WRIISC Yoga Wellness & Yoga Telehealth Programs

Ms. Mahoney develops and directs educational and risk communication projects for the CA WRIISC, and developed the WRIISC Yoga Wellness program at the VA in Palo Alto. She is a co-investigator on a VA-DoD funded study to explore yoga and a group education program as treatment for chronic pain in Veterans from Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield (ODS/S) and has a deep interest in contributing towards the evidence base for yoga as treatment in medical settings.

Ms. Mahoney is certified in yoga and Level I iRest and directs the WRIISC Yoga Wellness program that provides yoga classes to Veterans at the Palo Alto VA and its associated Community Clinics collaborating with the VA Palo Alto Clinical Video Telehealth program.

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Stacy Moeder, MHA, MBA
Stacy Moeder, MHA, MBA
  • Position: Administrative Officer

Ms. Moeder started with the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1994 as an Administrative Fellow at the VA Medical Center in Long Beach, California. In 1995, she transferred to the VA Health Care System in Palo Alto, California as an Employee Relations Specialist. In 2000, Stacy became the Administrative Officer for Surgical Service and in 2003, she moved to Research Service. In 2007, she became the Administrative Officer for the new WRIISC. In her personal time, Stacy enjoys spending time with her two young daughters and husband.

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Tong Sheng, PhD
 Tong Sheng, PhD
  • Position: Neuroscience Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Sheng is a postdoctoral fellow at the WRIISC. He received his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Southern California and his BS in Bioengineering from UC Berkeley. Dr. Sheng is a cognitive neuroscientist who studies neural networks that support affective and social processes.

At the WRIISC, Dr. Sheng uses functional and structural functional neuroimaging to investigate how variations in fundamental neural networks’ properties predict physical and mental symptoms in Veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI, and other war-related illnesses.

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Michael Stanton, PhD
Michael Stanton, PhD
  • Position: Complementary and Alternative Medicine(CAM) Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Michael Stanton is a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Post-doctoral Fellow at the WRIISC, VA Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University School of Medicine. He obtained his PhD in Clinical Psychology with a focus in Behavioral Medicine from Duke University and completed his clinical internship in Behavioral Medicine at the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System.

Dr. Stanton’s clinical interests include behavioral medicine and complementary medicine (e.g., yoga, mindfulness) interventions for obesity, addiction, and chronic pain. His research interests include gene by environment interactions in the development of compulsive eating and complementary medicine-based treatments for obesity and diabetes, such as yoga and mindful eating. He has authored many papers on addictive behaviors, genetics, and physiological pathways of stress and coping.

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Dana Waltzman, PhD
Dana Waltzman, PhD
  • Position: Neuroscience Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Waltzman has an interest in examining the pathophysiology of normal aging, traumatic brain injury, posttraumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and other neurodegenerative disorders in order to help inform possible interventions and identify early predictors of cognitive decline by elucidating the pattern of cognitive and neural change.

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Jerome Yesavage, MD
Jerome Yesavage, MD
  • Position: Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health

Dr. Yesavage is the Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health and Chief of Psychiatry, VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) and the Executive Director of the VAPAHCS WRIISC. His research focuses on Alzheimer's Disease (senile dementia), Age-Associated Cognitive Decline (normal changes in cognitive function seen in older adults), depression in aging, sleep disorders in aging and lifespan changes in complex tasks such as aircraft pilot performance. He has authored numerous papers covering topics in Geriatric psychiatry including Alzheimer's disease, cognitive assessments, and aviation safety.