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NJ WRIISC's Staff

Drew A. Helmer, MD, MS
Drew A. Helmer, MD, MS
  • Position: Director

Dr. Drew Helmer, NJ WRIISC Director, is an expert in deployment health who brings unique qualifications and experience to the NJ WRIISC. Before joining the WRIISC in January 2012, Dr. Helmer worked at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, TX. He was the Lead Clinician for Post-Deployment Health in Houston and for the South Central Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN 16), Associate Director of Research for PrimeCare, and Assistant Director of the Neurorehabilitation: Neurons to Networks VA Rehabilitation Research and Development traumatic brain injury research Center of Excellence.

Prior to moving to Houston, Dr. Helmer was the Medical Director at the NJ WRIISC. During this time, he developed the basic structure for a national referral evaluation for Veterans with multi-symptom illness and was engaged in research and education efforts. During his tenure in NJ, he also successfully completed a VA Health Services Research and Development Research Career Development Award.

Throughout his career Dr. Helmer has conducted research focused on several issues important to Veterans including chronic pain, exposure concerns, depression and suicidal ideation, mTBI, and sexual health concerns. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, received his MD and MS degrees from Columbia University in New York, NY, and completed his residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX.

Dr. Helmer’s extensive post deployment clinical experience, research work, leadership abilities and vision will ensure the NJ WRIISC’s continued success in providing top-notch services directed towards improving the lives of combat Veterans.

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Amanda Acosta-Harris, BA
Amanda Acosta-Harris, BA
  • Position: Outreach Coordinator

Amanda Acosta-Harris is the Outreach Coordinator at the NJ WRIISC. She earned her BA in Psychology in 2008 and is currently attending Rutgers University for her Masters in Social Work. Mrs. Harris is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, Association of VA Social Workers, National Military Family Association, The Silver Star Families of America, and Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor Society at Rutgers University. Mrs. Harris has previous work experience in administration, office management, and recruitment. She brought her expertise in office management and recruitment to the WRIISC, where she increased the number of Veterans participating in research studies dramatically. Mrs. Harris worked as a Research Assistant for 3 years and has become the Outreach Coordinator for NJ WRIISC research.

Mrs. Acosta-Harris is married to a current combat Veteran in the Army. Mrs. Harris has a profound passion for working with Veterans and their families, providing advocacy, empowerment, and support to allow Veterans to have a better quality of life. Upon graduation from Rutgers University, Mrs. Harris plans on continuing her work with Veterans in the clinical sector, providing counseling and support to Veterans and their families.

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Nyasanu A. Barbee, PhD
Nyasanu A. Barbee, PhD
  • Position: Staff Psychologist
  • Team: Clinical Services

Dr. Nyasanu A. Barbee is a staff psychologist for Clinical Services for the NJ WRIISC. He joined the team in January 2012. His primary role on the team is in providing direct clinical services and leading the NJ WRIISC mental health team. Dr. Barbee received his BA from Hunter College City University of New York in 2002 where he received a NIMH Career Opportunities in Research Education grant. He then completed his MS degree (2005) and his PhD (2008) in Clinical Psychology from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he received an Advanced Opportunities Fellowship. During his graduate education, Dr. Barbee completed research projects on the topics of racial factors contributing to differences in inpatient outcomes as well as rare developmental pathologies in adults such as separation anxiety. In 2008 Dr. Barbee completed his internship at the North Chicago VA Medical Center and then went on to complete a post-doctoral fellowship in Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System (CAVHS) in North Little Rock, AR. Dr. Barbee remained at CAVHS upon completion of his fellowship and worked in a Post-Deployment Primary Care Clinic for newly returning Veterans. Dr. Barbee has a special clinical interest and is experienced in the treatment of PTSD. He is also specialty trained in using CBT approaches for treating depression and insomnia. Dr. Barbee’s diverse background in evidence based psychotherapies for treating various disorders such as PTSD, along with his experience in the area of post-deployment behavioral health, makes his expertise a valuable asset to the Veterans seen at the WRIISC.

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Sheila L. Butler, MD, MPH
Sheila Butler, MD, MPH
  • Position: Staff Physician
  • Teams: Research and Clinical Services

Dr. Sheila L. Butler is an Occupational and Environmental Medicine Staff physician at the NJ WRIISC. Dr. Butler provides in-person and phone consultations to Veterans and associated health care providers regarding medically unexplained symptoms, complexes, and exposures of concern. Dr. Butler’s areas of focus include: the relationship between combat exposures, health issues, and disease processes in Gulf War Veterans, cancer prevention and control, quality of life measures (including pain management), and hematological neoplasms associated with occupational/toxic exposures.

Dr. Butler is board certified by the American Board of Pathology with specialization in Hematology, Anatomic Pathology, and Clinical Pathology. Areas of expertise include hematological, other oncologic diseases, and disorders resulting from exposures to aromatic hydrocarbons and related substances. She is board eligible in Preventive Medicine and Public Health as well as Occupational Medicine.

A recipient of the American Cancer Society’s Physicians’ Training Award, Dr. Butler completed additional training in Preventive Medicine and Public Health. She received a Masters degree in Public Health from the Mailman School of Public Health and obtained further training in Occupational and Environmental Medicine at UMDNJ- Robert Wood Johnson Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine.

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Helena Chandler, PhD
Helena Chandler, PhD
  • Positions:
    • Acting Associate Director of Clinical Services
    • Associate Director of Data Management
  • Teams: Data Management and Clinical Services

Dr. Helena K. Chandler is the NJ WRIISC Associate Director of Data Management. She is responsible for maintaining a high level of quality for the NJ WRIISC’s clinical, research, and education databases. Dr. Chandler ensures that Veteran information is stored and organized in a safe and secure manner.

Dr. Chandler joined the WRIISC in 2002 after completing her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at Virginia Tech. She received federal funding for her Postdoctoral Fellowship and gained specialized training in applications of Behavioral Medicine to Veterans with complex and medically unexplained symptoms. Dr. Chandler has collaborated with colleagues at the three WRIISC sites, in the Mental Health & Behavioral Science (MH&BS) division of the East Orange VAMC, and at the UMNDJ-New Jersey Medical School on nine additional federally-funded research projects. These include on multisite studies and clinical trials of new interventions for Veterans.

Dr. Chandler has a particular research interest in three interconnected areas of research: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS), and Healthcare Utilization. The NJ WRIISC continues to be a wonderful environment for Dr. Chandler to connect with Veterans who are both seeking help for themselves and interested in participating in research that will help others.

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Florence B. Chua, MS
Florence B. Chua, MS
  • Position: Biomedical Engineer
  • Teams: Education and Risk Communication Services

Ms. Florence B. Chua is a Biomedical Engineer. She earned her BS in Engineering Science in 2000 and MS in Biomedical Engineering in 2003 from the Newark College of Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology where she received several merit-based scholarships. During her undergraduate curriculum, she assisted in studying the effects of spinal cord injury on the proliferation, motility, and morphology of sperm. As part of her graduate degree, she upgraded a haploscope system which presented stimuli on an oscilloscope to display instead on a computer monitor, allowing for a wider range of stimulus types. She has completed team development of software and hardware instrumentation for neurobehavioral research studies for the Stress and Motivated Institute of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Ms. Chua joined the NJ WRIISC in 2005. She collaborates with other WRIISC locations on the National WRIISC website. She is responsible for the design, layout, and procurement of the WRIISC Advantage (the National WRIISC Newsletter) and other media as well as managing educational efforts for Veterans and providers. Her professional interests include: algorithm development, automation, and design.

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Michael J. Falvo, PhD, RCEP
Michael J. Falvo, PhD
  • Positions:
    • Principal Investigator, Cardiorespiratory Physiology Laboratory
    • Exercise Physiologist
  • Teams: Research and Clinical Services

Michael J. Falvo, PhD, RCEP is a Research Physiologist at the NJ WRIISC (East Orange, NJ) as well as an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology & Physiology and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Rutgers University Biomedical and Health Sciences (Newark, NJ). Dr. Falvo received his BS (Exercise Science) from The College of New Jersey in 2004 and his MS (Exercise and Sport Science) from the University of Memphis in 2006. He completed his PhD (Kinesiology) at Washington University in Saint Louis in 2010 and a postdoctoral fellowship (Integrative Physiology) at the VA New Jersey Health Care System from 2010 – 2012. Dr. Falvo’s research investigates how human cardiorespiratory, cardiovascular and autonomic systems adapt and respond to physical and environmental stress. He is the Principal Investigator on several funded projects to study the effects of environmental exposures on cardiorespiratory, autonomic and metabolic function in deployed military. Consistent across these projects is the use of exercise challenge to enhance the detection of biological abnormalities at all levels, from cellular to whole body. Dr. Falvo is an active member of the American Physiological Society, American Thoracic Society, and American College of Sports Medicine. Aside from his research work, Dr. Falvo also has clinical responsibilities as an ACSM Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist, and supervises pulmonary function and cardiopulmonary exercise testing at the NJ WRIISC.

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Malusha Fobler, CCRP
Malusha Fobler, CCRP
  • Position: Health Science Specialist
  • Teams: Research, Clinical, and Data Management Services

Ms. Malusha Fobler joined the NJ WRIISC in 2009 as a Health Science Specialist. She manages the Regulatory body of all research studies. A few of her responsibilities include: monitoring and auditing study data, preparing IRB documents, archiving and ensuring the security of all IRB records, initiating new procedures to improve data quality and regulatory adherence to VA policy, training new staff, principal investigators, and study teams, and addressing investigators' concerns.

Since 2007, Ms. Fobler has been a Senior Management and Research Assistant at the Pain and Fatigue Study Center, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey where she helps prepare National Institute of Health grant budgets, determines subject eligibility, acquires and manages subject data, while maintaining a research database of all studies.

Ms. Fobler received her BA in Economics from Bombay University, India in 1993 then her BBA from Monroe College, NY in 2000. She has certification in several clinical research disciplines.

Previously, Ms. Fobler worked as a Clinical Research Associate and Unit Archivist for Charterhouse Clinical Research Unit, London, UK in 2001. Then, from 2002 to 2003, Ms. Fobler became a Quality Control data Reviewer for Purdue Pharmaceutical where she audited all pre-clinical and clinical pharmaceutical research to comply with Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) and institutional standards.

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Stephanie R. Grier, MSN, RN
Stephanie R. Grier, MSN, RN
  • Position: Nurse Health Educator
  • Teams: Education and Clinical Services

Ms. Grier joins the Education and Clinical Teams serving as a nurse health educator responsible for one-on-one Veteran heath education and other Veteran and provider education efforts. Ms. Grier will also assist in chart reviews, responding to q-queries and drafting of Veteran “Good News Stories” among other responsibilities. Ms. Grier is a Registered Professional Nurse with over 18 years of emergency department, homecare, case management, tele-health and psychiatric nursing experience. She worked at the James J. Peters Bronx Veterans Affairs Medical Center where she performed direct clinical care for a cadre of Home Based Primary Care patients and functioned as an assessment nurse for OEF/OIF veterans in the Care Giver Program. She has also acted as a research nurse consultant to the Geriatric Research and Education Care Center on a Project that addressed hospital readmissions and transitioning patients across service lines and into the home setting; Additionally, Ms. Grier provided trainings on topics such as health literacy and cultural competency to Allied Health Professionals within the Geriatric Research Care Center (GRECC).

Ms. Grier earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at Wagner College. She received her Masters of Science in Nursing Education at Mercy College where she was a National Dean’s List Rhodes Scholar Award nominee and in 2011 Ms. Grier was amongst the first graduating class of Masters prepared Clinical Nurse Leader’s (CNL) at Hunter College.

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Marybeth Heffernan, MSN, RN, APN-C
Marybeth Heffernan, MSN, RN, APN-C
  • Position: Staff Nurse Practitioner
  • Team: Clinical Services

Ms. Heffernan is a Nurse Practitioner at the WRIISC and joined the center in 2004. She joined the WRIISC after receiving her second Masters degree in Nursing, as an Adult Care Nurse Practitioner from Seton Hall University in 2003. Ms. Heffernan has over 25 years of experience in diverse nursing roles, including medical, surgical, school, and rehabilitation nursing. She received her MSN in Rehabilitation Nursing from Boston University in 1986. She worked for many years as a Rehabilitation Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Rehabilitation Institute at Morristown Memorial, working with patients and families who were dealing with strokes, spinal cord injuries, and other life changing problems. She is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

At the WRIISC, Ms. Heffernan sees Veterans for extensive history and physical exams and works with the WRIISC team to address Veterans' health concerns subsequent to return from war. She has given talks on a number of aspects of dealing with medically unexplained health problems. She has a particular interest in the effects of sleep problems on symptoms and in strategies to improve the health of people with chronic health problems.

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Deborah Jewell, BA
Deborah Jewell, BA
  • Position: Program Specialist/Administrator
  • Team: Administration

Ms. Deborah Jewell, is the Program Specialist at the NJ WRIISC. Ms. Jewell earned her BA degree at New York University majoring in organization communications. She has many years of experience in client services and risk management. Prior to coming to NJ WRIISC, Ms. Jewell worked for a mental illness organization for five years assisting psychologists with daily administrative issues relating to patients.

Currently, Ms. Jewell provides administrative support to the NJ WRIISC Director and supervises all aspects of recruitment of Clinical patients. Since joining the NJ WRIISC in August 2004, the number of Veterans evaluated at the NJ WRIISC has increased substantially. Ms. Jewell has been recognized for providing Veterans with the care, treatment and excellent service that they deserve. She spends an extensive amount of time with Veterans on the phone and in person before and during the visit. Veterans who have come to the center from all over the country have commented that the thought and preparation Ms. Jewell puts into making their visits possible is most helpful to them. She looks forward to continue providing Veterans with a pleasant atmosphere during their visit at the NJ WRIISC.

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Jacquelyn Klein, MS, RCEP
Jacquelyn Klein, MS, RCEP
  • Position: Clinical Exercise Physiologist
  • Teams: Research and Clinical Services

Ms. Jacquelyn Klein is a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP) recognized by the American College of Sports Medicine. Ms. Klein specializes in exercise testing and prescription, and exercise counseling drawing from specific experiences in the cardiopulmonary and diabetes fields. She is also a strong advocate of health education and promotion among all populations. Ms. Klein attained a Bachelors degree in Exercise Science from Rutgers University in 2010 and a Masters degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology from Northeastern University in 2012.

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Lisa M. McAndrew, PhD
Lisa M. McAndrew, PhD
  • Positions:
    • Clinical Health Psychologist
    • Health Scientist
  • Teams: Research and Clinical Services

Dr. Lisa M. McAndrew joined the WRIISC in 2008. The overarching goal of her research is to improve the self-management of chronic conditions. Specifically, her work seeks to understand patients’ views of their health and to use this information to develop patient centered behavioral interventions.

Dr. McAndrew is the PI on VA funded randomized clinical trial to examine if Problem-Solving Therapy improves the disability of Gulf War Veterans with Gulf War Illness. This multi-site study will examine the efficacy of a cognitive rehabilitation treatment, Problem-Solving Therapy, for Gulf War Veterans. Dr. McAndrew is also the PI on two major longitudinal studies of Veterans conducted at the Veterans Affairs. The first follows 1,200 Veterans with post-deployment health concerns seen at VA clinics in New Jersey, California or Washington DC. Veterans are surveyed every six months to determine predictors in health function and treatment seeking. Dr. McAndrew is also co-leading a prospective study of 790 Iraqi and Afghanistan soldiers surveyed pre-deployment to one year post-deployment. She was awarded funding to extend this study to five years post deployment. These studies include collaborators from all over the United States and have lead to a number of manuscripts published in high tiered journals. Dr. McAndrew is also conducting pilot studies examining the efficacy of Behavioral Activation for Veterans with post-deployment health concerns and a daily diary study examining the relationship of daily activities and symptoms of Veterans with post-deployment health concerns.

Dr. McAndrew has completed research that sought to understand patients’ views of diabetes self-management using qualitative, survey methods and clinical trial design. She received a pilot grant to fund this work from the NIH supported Center for the Study of Health Beliefs and Behaviors. This funding has led to significant program of research on the efficacy of self-monitoring of blood glucose for patients with type 2 diabetes.

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Richard Monaghan, BS
Richard Monaghan, BS
  • Position: Administrative Officer
  • Team: Administration

Mr. Richard Monaghan is the Administrative Officer for the NJ WRIISC. Mr. Monaghan earned his degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in economics & finance. He has been with the Department of Veterans Affairs for more than 19 years. Seven years were spent in the hospital’s Fiscal Service, and 3 years as a budget analyst for the Research Service before coming to the WRIISC shortly after its inception. Mr. Monaghan is in charge of all administrative functions for the WRIISC and its affiliated research, including all accounting, budgeting, purchasing, contracting, and personnel actions.

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Omowunmi Osinubi, MD, MSc, MBA, FRCA
Omowunmi Osinubi, MD, MSc, MBA, FRCA
  • Position: Staff Physician
  • Team: Clinical Services

Dr. Omowunmi ("Wunmi") Osinubi is an Occupational and Environmental Medical Consultant to the NJ WRIISC and joined the center in 2008. Dr Osinubi provides in-person and telephonic consultations to Veterans and/or their health care providers on matters relating to complex medical health conditions and exposures of concern during military service. She is part of the WRIISC team that trains clinicians on deployment related exposures at conferences across the Nation.

Previously, Dr. Osinubi was on Faculty at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and was Associate Director of the residency program in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. At the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), she directed the Information Toxicology Project funded by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. There, she led the team that wrote the medical toxicology and health effects sections for approximately 1,400 hazardous substances fact sheets, which are part of the New Jersey Right to Know program for hazardous chemicals in the workplace.

Dr. Osinubi is board certified in Anesthesiology and Occupational and Environmental Medicine. She received her MBA degree with a focus on Medical Management from the University of Massachusetts in conjunction with the American College of Physician Executives. She is course director for the Principles of Occupational Health course, Masters in Public Health program, UMDNJ- School of Public Health where she is an Associate Professor (adjunct) in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health.

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Lydia Patrick-Deluca, MSN, RN, APN
Lydia Patrick-Deluca, MSN, RN, APN
  • Position: Nurse Practitioner
  • Team: Clinical Services

Ms. Lydia Patrick-DeLuca earned a BSN and a Master of Science in Nursing from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey College of Nursing, Newark, New Jersey where she was also inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society for nurses. She is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American College of Nurse Practitioners. She is certified as an adult nurse practitioner, IGM Therapeutic Acupressure and as a school nurse.

Her clinical work experience is diverse, including open heart step down unit and telemetry, operating room multiple services from traumas to electives. She served as head of the Gyn Oncology & Infertility Service at St. Louis University Hospital, Firmin Deslodge, St. Louis, Missouri. She also worked at a private Reproductive Endocrinology practice as a patient educator and IVF coordinator. Ms. Patrick–DeLuca also has experience working as a school nurse/teacher of health in the public schools of Montclair, New Jersey and in home health, where she worked as a skilled visiting nurse, nurse preceptor then went into administration for a nonprofit agency in Essex County, New Jersey. She wrote “Behind The OR Doors” in conjunction with the St. Louis University Nursing School, a film to promote peri-operative nursing which aired nationally.

Ms. Patrick-DeLuca brings to the WRIISC her clinical skills and diverse experience to assist in the diagnosing of complex medically unexplained symptoms and post deployment health problems. More recently, she also leads patient health education efforts as part of WRIISC comprehensive evaluations.

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Kathleen Ray, PhD, MSW, LCSW
Kathleen Ray, PhD, MSW, LCSW
  • Position: Social Worker
  • Team: Clinical Services

Dr. Kathleen Ray joined the WRIISC staff in 2013. Dr. Ray earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Binghamton University, a Masters in Science of Social Work from Columbia and in 2012 earned her PhD in Social Work from Rutgers University. Dr. Ray has over 20 years’ experience working in diverse roles including mental health, education and research. She has been in private clinical practice since 2001 and works as a lecturer at The School of Social Work at Rutgers University. At the WRIISC, Dr. Ray is part of the multidisciplinary clinical team where she conducts assessments, develops treatment plans, and implements follow up. Dr. Ray’s research interests include outcomes measurements and reintegration issues over the lifespan.

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Michelle W. Robertson, MD, MPH
Michelle W. Robertson, MD, MPH
  • Position: Staff Physician
  • Team: Clinical Services

Michelle W. Robertson, MD, MPH is an Occupational and Environmental Medicine physician at the NJ WRIISC. Dr. Robertson provides in-person and telephonic consultations to Veterans and affiliated health care providers regarding medically unexplained symptoms and exposures of concern during military service. Dr. Robertson’s other area of interest includes employing the biopsychosocial approach to health to improve quality of life and prevention of chronic disease.

Dr. Robertson is currently on Faculty at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine and previously served as the Associate Director of the residency training program in Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the Rutgers-University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). At the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), she provided care to injured workers and performed surveillance evaluations. In addition, Dr. Robertson evaluated and treated first-responders in the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program.

Dr. Robertson is board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine in Family Practice. In addition, she has completed additional training in Occupational and Environmental Medicine at UMDNJ- Robert Wood Johnson Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine and she is board eligible in Occupational Medicine. She received a Master's degree in Environmental and Occupational Health from the Rutgers-UMDNJ School of Public Health.

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Christina Rumage, MSPH
Christina Rumage, MSPH
  • Position: Education Specialist
  • Team: Education and Risk Communication

Ms. Christina Rumage is an Education Specialist at NJ WRIISC. She is responsible for providing Veterans with up-to-date information about deployment health concerns. In addition, she develops written materials for Veterans and Veteran providers (including factsheets and the WRIISC Advantage newsletter which she coordinates). Christina provides logistical support for all of NJ WRIISC's educational activities.

Ms. Rumage joined the NJ WRIISC in November 2001 and was employed as a Patient Services Assistant for approximately three years before becoming an Education Specialist. Her main job responsibilities in this role were to coordinate and provide support for the intake, screening, scheduling, and patient care for each Veteran referred to the WRIISC. Her experience in this position provided her with a strong foundation in understanding Veterans’ healthcare and educational needs and helped prepare her for her current position at the WRIISC.

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Susan L. Santos, PhD, MS
Susan L. Santos, PhD, MS
  • Position: Associate Director
  • Team: Education and Risk Communication

Dr. Susan L. Santos is the Associate Director of Risk Communication and Education for the NJ WRIISC and an Assistant Professor in the Health Education and Behavioral Sciences Division of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Public Health. Dr. Santos has over 25 years of risk and health communications experience. She conducts research, provides education and develops materials on complex health, safety and environmental risk information including the communication of deployment related risks such as exposure concerns and medically unexplained illnesses in Veterans.

Dr. Santos received her PhD from Northeastern University, where she concentrated in Risk Communication. She received her MS degree in Civil Engineering and Public Health from Tufts University and a BS degree in Chemistry and Sociology from Boston College.

Dr. Santos has given hundreds of seminars and speeches on the topic of risk communication and has published in the areas of risk communication. Dr. Santos is a National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine Committee member on several committees and is also a Board Member for the Institute of Medicine Board on Population and Public Health.

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Jorge Serrador, PhD
Jorge Serrador, PhD
  • Position: Associate Director
  • Team: Research

Dr. Jorge M. Serrador is the Associate Director of Research at the NJ WRIISC. He has expertise in integrative physiology, with particular interests in brain blood flow and balance function and how these are affected by blast exposure, gulf war illness, spaceflight, aging and pathological conditions such as stroke. Currently, his work in integrative physiology focuses on examining the role different systems play in affecting cerebral blood flow.

Dr. Serrador received his BA (Psychology) and BSc (Physiology) in 1993 then his MSc (Kinesiology) in 1997 from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. In 2000, he completed his PhD (Kinesiology) at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada. He has been cited over 350 times and his work published in Stroke in 2000 is one of the top 50 most cited articles in the journal. His post-doctoral fellowship was completed in 2003 at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Serrador is considered an international expert in Doppler measurements of cerebral blood flow. His work has been funded by NASA and the NIH to study the effects of balance function on cerebral blood flow regulation. In joining the WRIISC, he brings his considerable experience to bear on the problems of blast exposure and mild traumatic brain injury in returning Veterans.

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Anays Sotolongo, MD
Anays Sotolongo, MD
  • Position: Physician
  • Team: Clinical Service

Dr. Sotolongo is Pulmonary/Critical Care/Sleep physician at the NJ WRIISC. Dr. Sotolongo provides in-person and telephonic consultations to Veterans and affiliated health care providers regarding medically unexplained respiratory symptoms of concern during military service. Dr. Sotolongo’s other area of interest includes airway inflammation in inhalation injury.

Dr. Sotolongo is currently on Faculty at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care and serves as the Medical Director of the Comprehensive Sleep Disorders Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick at the Rutgers-University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). She also works at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), as a pulmonary consultant, where she evaluates and treats first-responders in the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program.

Dr. Sotolongo is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine.

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Rita Torres, MSW, LCSW
Rita Torres, MSW, LCSW
  • Position: Social Worker
  • Team: Clinical Services

A NJ State Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Mrs. Rita Ramaglia Torres earned her MSW in Social Work from Monmouth University in W. Long Branch, NJ after graduating Summa Cum Laude with her BSW in Social Work. Mrs. Torres is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, Monmouth University Honor Society, and the National Social Work Honor Society. Her experience also includes previous college studies in the nursing field.

Mrs. Torres combines professional versatility, networking expertise and a genuine caring advocacy for the integrity and quality of life of our Veterans. She has worked as a medical social worker using her assessment and counseling skills including the ability to empower and support her clients in determining creative approaches to dealing with situational crisis. A multidisciplinary team player with years of life experience with diverse populations, Mrs. Torres also worked two years successfully marketing programs and recruiting volunteer members for the Monmouth Council of Girl Scouts. She has spoken publicly on topics including: Elderly Patients-Navigating the Healthcare System, Accessing Community Resources and Veteran Post- Deployment Transition. Mrs. Torres is also a psychotherapist on the staff at Halcyon Eldercare, a geriatric care management company based in Monmouth County.

Mrs. Torres has been married to a combat Veteran for the past 40 years and together, they have two grown children.

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Chin-Lin Tseng, DrPH
Chin-Lin Tseng, DrPH
  • Position: Principal Investigator, Health Research Scientist (Health Services Research), Biostatistician
  • Team: Research

Dr. Chin-Lin Tseng has been with the NJ WRIISC and the Health Sciences Research Group at the East Orange VA Medical Center since 2002. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers University.

Dr. Tseng received dual Doctor of Public Health degrees in Biostatistics and Sociomedical Sciences, School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, in 2001. She received undergraduate (general Public Health) and Master degrees (Health Policy and Management) from National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan.

Dr. Tseng is the PI of a VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) funded grant that evaluates ambulatory care and preventable hospitalizations among patients with diabetic kidney disease. Previously, she was the PI in two VA HSR&D grants on evaluation of lower extremity amputations. Dr. Tseng is also an active co-investigator in numerous projects. Dr. Tseng serves as a methodologist in projects of her own and other colleagues or collaborators, and has led the study design and data analyses of many research projects.

Dr. Tseng’s research focuses on evaluation of Veteran’s health outcomes and utilization, and factors associated with them. The results of the research are to advance understanding of health care needs in Veterans and provide information for health care policy making and patient care programs redesign. Her areas of interest are: quantitative data analysis, complex chronic disease (e.g., diabetes, chronic kidney disease), health outcomes, health disparities, mental health, chronic fatigue syndrome, medically unexplained illnesses, lower extremity amputations, glycemic control, risk adjustment, and electronic health records (administrative data base) analysis.