Attention A T users. To access the menus on this page please perform the following steps. 1. Please switch auto forms mode to off. 2. Hit enter to expand a main menu option (Health, Benefits, etc). 3. To enter and activate the submenu links, hit the down arrow. You will now be able to tab or arrow up or down through the submenu options to access/activate the submenu links.

War Related Illness and Injury Study Center

Menu
Menu

Quick Links

Veterans Crisis Line Badge
My healthevet badge
EBenefits Badge
 

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.

< back to top

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.

< back to top

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.

< back to top

Adam Burn, MA
Adam S. Burn
  • Position: Research Health Science Specialist

Adam Burn is a proud veteran of the United States Air Force and serves as Study Coordinator and Project Manager at the WRIISC (Study: Breathing Meditation Intervention for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder). He possesses a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in clinical psychology from the Arizona School of Professional Psychology.

Adam has supported psychotherapeutic and neuropsychological assessment practices at Stanford University Medical Center, Mayo Clinic, and private practice and community settings. While engaged in graduate studies, Adam became intrigued by research into the neuroscientific bases of contemplative practices as empirically demonstrated avenues toward well-being for persons suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety, and burnout.

Adam is certified by Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) as a Compassion Cultivation Teacher. He maintains a particular interest in the cultural and holistic treatment implications underlying the use of complementary and alternative practices as support methodologies for veterans in need.

< back to top

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.

< back to top

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.

< back to top

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.

< back to top

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.

< back to top

Ronit Katz, MD, FACPM
Ronit Katz, MD
  • Position: Occupational Medicine, Camp Lejeune

Lt. Colonol Ronit Katz is physician with board certification in Preventive and Occupational and Environmental medicine. 

< back to top

Michelle Madore, PhD
Michelle Madore, PhD
  • Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Dr. Michelle Madore is a postdoctoral fellow with the CA WRIISC and Stanford University. She obtained her PhD in Psychology with a focus in Clinical Neuropsychology from the University of Cincinnati. She has completed two years of post-doctoral training (1 year in Clinical Neuropsychology at VA Northern CA in Martinez and 1 year in Clinical Neuropsychology research focused on Polytrauma at San Francisco VA Medical Center). Dr. Madore has served on numerous national committees and is currently serving as a member of the Society for Clinical Neuropsychology's Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee and the current Financial Officer for the Asian American Psychological Association's Division on Filipino Americans. Dr. Madore's current interests focus on understanding the effects of environmental and biological influences on brain function and cognition. She interested in using neuroimaging techniques to understand the anatomical substrates associated with emotion regulation and executive functioning to inform the development of techniques for cognitive rehabilitation. Additionally, Dr. Madore is interested in gaining a better understanding of how best to assess executive and emotional brain function as it relates to day-to-day activities.

< back to top

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.

< back to top

Windy McNerney, PhD
Windy McNerney, PhD
  • Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. McNerney is a post-doctoral fellow at the WRIISC and the Stanford School of Medicine. She received her PhD from the University of Notre Dame on the neural signaling of memory formation, and her BS from UC Davis. She then went on and completed a 3 year postdoc appointment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and also for the Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research.

At WRIISC, Dr. McNerney is focusing on neurotrophic and neurotransmitter signaling as it relates to brain function in diseases commonly associated with veterans, such as TBI, PTSD, and Alzheimer’s disease. She hopes to utilize her discoveries to develop effective therapeutics for patients.

< back to top

Stacy Moeder, MHA, MBA
Stacy Moeder, MHA, MBA
  • Position: Program 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.

< back to top

Mark Perlow, MD
Mark J. Perlow, MD
  • Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Mark Perlow received his Bachelor’s degree from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and an MD degree from Northwestern University in Chicago. Following an internship and a Neurology residency, he completed a Sleep Disorders Medicine Fellowship. He served as a Major in the US Army at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and a Staff Fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Perlow is Board Certified in Neurology and Sleep Medicine and practices both specialties. He has co-authored numerous publications on sleep and biological rhythms, neuroendocrinology, and neural transplantation. Dr. Perlow is interested in geriatric neurology, sleep disorders medicine, traumatic brain injury and other war-related neurological and psychiatric illnesses.

< back to top

Ravi Ponnusamy, PhD
Ravi Ponnusamy, PhD
  • Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Ponnusamy is a behavioral neuroscientist, and his research incorporates rodent behavior models, pharmacological and molecular techniques to investigate the neuronal circuitry and molecular cascades that underlie the learning and memory. Specifically, his research focuses on molecular mechanisms underlying the fear extinction, a preclinical model for behavior therapy for anxiety disorders, including PTSD. Using animal models of Gulf War Illness, he currently investigates the role of trophic factor signaling in pain processing.

< back to top

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

Dr. Michael Stanton is a licensed clinical health psychologist and the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Postdoctoral Fellow at WRIISC, VA Palo Alto Healthcare System and Stanford University. Dr. Stanton holds a doctorate and masters of arts in Clinical Psychology with a focus in Behavioral Medicine from Duke University. He completed his clinical internship with a focus in Behavioral Medicine at the VA Palo Alto (affiliate of Stanford University). He received his B.A. from Brown University. Dr. Stanton specializes in clinical health psychology integrating mind-body skills such as mindfulness and hypnosis with cognitive behavioral therapy to treat health problems including obesity, hypertension, chronic pain, insomnia and depression. His research and clinical work have focused on bariatric surgery and weight loss medicine. His work has been recognized at national and international scientific conferences, and he is a co-author of several studies which have been published in various academic journals, including Molecular Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine, and Harvard Review of Psychiatry.

< back to top

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.

< back to top

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.