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War Related Illness and Injury Study Center

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DC WRIISC's Staff

Our staff consists of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, psychologists, research scientists, epidemiologists, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners, and environmental health scientists who have many years of experience seeing veterans with post-deployment health concerns. Below is a description of the clinical and research backgrounds of our current DC WRIISC staff members:

 

Matthew J. Reinhard, PsyD
  • Position: WRIISC Director

Dr. Reinhard is the Director of DC WRIISC. He has been with the WRIISC-DC since 2008 as a clinical neuropsychologist and has seen many Veterans with a variety of post-deployment health concerns. He obtained his BA from Long Island University, his MA and PsyD from Pepperdine University (APA), and interned at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center (APA). He completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in neuropsychology at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He has recently published neuropsychology research the areas of: PTSD, HIV/AIDS, Brain Reserve Theory, personality theory, and toxic exposure. He has also worked as a clinical psychologist in the PTSD treatment program at the Washington DC VAMC. His current area of research interest is in the neuropsychology of PTSD. He has an academic appointment at the Assistant Professor rank from Georgetown University Medical School Department of Psychiatry.

Contact Dr. Reinhard at: 202-745-8249.

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Nate Allen, BS
  • Position: Grant Manager

Mr. Allen, BS, is a Research Grant Manager at DC WRIISC and graduate of Trinity College, CT. He is currently a research coordinator and primary investigator for WRIISC studies including inhibitory reflex control via eye movements, integrative and alternative medicine for Gulf War Veterans, and the intersection of health and mobile technologies. He hopes WRIISC’s interdisciplinary work with multi-symptom illnesses, TBI, and PTSD will contribute to positive health outcomes for future Veterans.

Contact Mr. Allen at: 202-745-8000, ext. 55474.

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Jeremy Chester, BS
  • Position: Data Manager

Mr. Chester, BS, is a Data Manager at DC WRIISC. He has a BS in Biochemistry from Binghamton University. He has worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2016, and he previously served in the United States Marine Corps Reserves for six years, including a one-year active duty deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has conducted research on a variety of topics, including the genetic basis of thyrotoxicosis, the media’s portrayal of Chronic Multi-Symptom Illness, treatments for Gulf War Illness, and the history of translational research in Gulf War Illness. He has published research on thyroid hormone receptor disease. He is currently involved in several research studies with the WRIISC, including treatments for Insomnia in Gulf War Veterans, identifying biomarkers, the course of illness, and targeted treatment approaches for Gulf War Illness, and clinical outcomes of Mefloquine use. He is involved in clinical operations at the WRIISC, including database queries and management and a value stream analysis of clinical operations. He also is involved in WRIISC educational operations, including development of an educational module on depleted uranium exposure and a remote health coaching project.

Contact Mr. Chester at: 202-745-8000, ext. 55769

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Timothy Chun, BS
  • Position: Health Science Specialist

Mr. Chun, BS is a research assistant at the DC WRIISC. He received his bachelor’s degree in Community Health at the University of Maryland, College Park. He has a background in electroencephalogram (EEG) research and will continue this research at WRIISC. Mr. Chun looks forward to expanding his experience in research and to assist the WRIISC team to achieve their goals.

Contact Mr. Chun at 202-745-8000, ext. 55818.

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Michelle E. Costanzo, PhD
  • Position: Research Neuroscientist

Dr. Costanzo is a Research Neuroscientist with the DC WRIISC and a Research Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). She has a BS in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior from the University of California, Davis and a PhD in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, with a focus on stress resilience and human performance from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). She was trained in the acquisition and analysis of electroencephalography at the UMD as well as in functional Magnetic Research Imaging at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Georgetown University Medical Center. She has published several articles utilizing psychophysiology and neuroimaging to examine cognitive and emotive processes in military service members, elite athletes and physicians. In addition to her scientific training, her administrative work at the National Science Foundation and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and responsibilities as a study manager for NIH, USUHS, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center clinical trials, has afforded her considerable experience with Federal government program management, regulatory compliance and science policy. Her current research focus is on PTSD and mTBI uilizing fear conditioning, combat-related virtual reality, affective stroop, and telemedicine to reveal insight into the etiology of persistent symptoms in order to inform the next generation of rehabilitation and treatment for Veterans.

Contact Dr. Costanzo at: 202-745-8000, ext. 56973.

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Lucas E. Crock, MA
  • Position: Health Science Specialist

Mr. Crock is a Health Science Specialist with the DC WRIISC. He has a BS in Psychology from King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, PA, and a MA in Psychological Science from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. His background includes conducting research on a variety of topics such as group therapy treatments, moderators for intervention efficacy, and treatments for Gulf War Illness. He is currently involved in multiple studies with the WRIISC examining the efficacy of alternative treatments for Gulf War Illness, telehealth interventions, and treatments for Insomnia in Veterans.

Contact Mr. Crock at: 202-745-8000, ext. 57553.

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Sharon DeMocker, MD
  • Position: Medical Director

Dr. DeMocker is the WRIISC-DC Medical Director. Dr. DeMocker previously headed an Integrative Medical clinic near Asheville, NC for over a decade, which she founded following her training with Dr. Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona, the first postdoctoral Integrative Medicine training center in the country. She completed her residency in Family Medicine through UVA in Lynchburg, with a focus on healthy lifestyle choices to prevent disease, which included her first clinical training with Dr. Weil. During medical school at the Medical University of South Carolina, she was involved in research on the physical and psychological aftermath of trauma. Dr. DeMocker has a strong interest in optimizing health through diet and lifestyle changes, as well as evidence-based, non-pharmaceutical treatments for treating chronic conditions, such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation and bodywork, including physical therapy, myofascial release and Therapeutic Touch. Dr. DeMocker is leading the WRIISC clinical team in expanding access to post-deployment health evaluation services for Veterans with deployment-related health and exposure concerns, and developing and expanding resources to assist VA providers in bringing the highest quality care to our nation’s Veterans.

Contact Dr. DeMocker at: 202-745-8000, ext. 56234.

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Arghavan Hamedi, MA
  • Position: Health Science Specialist

Ms. Hamedi, MA, is a Health Science Specialist at the D.C. WRIISC. She has a B.A. in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and an M.A. in Psychological Science from the Catholic University of America. Her research background in cognitive psychology includes examining a variety of topics such as emotion regulation, rumination, and brief mindfulness-based interventions. She was also an advanced cognitive brain trainer and eye-tracking coder. Her clinical research background involves military suicide prevention with active duty service members and investigating the role of attentional biases on suicide ideation. Ms. Hamedi is excited to work with the WRIISC team to help them meet their research goals and provide excellent patient care.

Contact Ms. Hamedi at: 202-745-8000, ext. 56824.

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Walt Jachimowicz, MSN, RN, CNL
  • Position:Nurse Educator

Mr. Jachimowicz is a registered nurse who serves as the nurse educator for the DC WRIISC. He obtained his BSN from Madonna University and his MSN from the University of Detroit Mercy. He has worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System since 1998 and has served in the United States Marine Corps as an active duty reserve officer. Mr. Jachimowicz has many years of experience working as a Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) where he plays an integral role in the clinical management of patients along many spectrums of care and in many clinical settings to include virtual settings. He takes a nursing leadership role in developing clinical strategies designed to improve patient health outcomes. Mr. Jachimowicz has a strong interest in chronic illness management at all ages and strategies for health promotion and disease prevention. He believes the best way to obtain sustainable patient outcomes is through evidence-based practice, patient centered care, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Contact Mr. Jachimowicz at: 202-745-8000, ext. 52636.

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Mian Li, MD, PhD
  • Position: Neurologist

Dr. Li is a DC WRIISC neurologist who provides clinical care to Veterans seen at the DC WRIISC. His duties include evaluating Veterans with post-deployment health concerns and providing education on war-related illnesses to medical students, residents, and clinical fellows who rotate through the WRIISC. He has been a senior staff fellow at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and has experience in evaluating diseases caused by environmental neuro-toxins. He is currently a clinical Associate Professor of Neurology at the George Washington University. Dr. Li completed his neurology residency at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and has a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. His research interests include autonomic disorders, brain injuries, and neuro-toxic disorders. Dr. Li is currently the Principal Investigator for two VA Merit studies looking at the autonomic and motor neuron functions of Veterans.

Contact Dr. Li at: 202-745-8000, ext. 56520.

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Nicholas Lezama, MD, MPH
  • Position: Camp Lejeune Family Member Program Clinical Reviewer

Dr. Nicholas Lezama serves as a Camp Lejeune Family Member Program clinical reviewer and WRIISC staff physician. He has a broad background in emergency, aerospace, and preventive medicine. Dr. Lezama is a retired Air Force flight surgeon with 27 years of military service, and he deployed three times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has served in clinical, command, administrative, and academic positions in the DoD and VA. His expertise and areas of interest include military health, environmental exposures, disaster medicine, aerospace medicine, and aeromedical evacuation. Dr. Lezama received his medical degree from the Boston University School of Medicine and a Master of Public Health degree from the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Antoinette Lomax
  • Position: WRIISC Administrative Officer

Ms. Lomax has been the DC WRIISC Administrative Officer since 2001. She is a longstanding employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs and has considerable experience in organizing clinical programs, overseeing administrative staff and personnel issues, troubleshooting day to day operational issues, and ensuring that budgets and fiscal programs are conducted in accordance with VA regulations. Ms. Lomax also has worked extensively with Veterans to ensure that Veteran feedback is incorporated into strengthening the DC WRIISC program.

Contact Ms. Lomax at: 202-745-8249.

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Keri Maloney, NBC-HWC, MA
  • Position: Health Coach

Ms. Maloney is a board-certified Health & Wellness Coach. She supports Veterans to make positive lifestyle changes, so they can heal and thrive after military service. Ms. Maloney earned a Master of Arts in Health & Wellness Coaching at Maryland University of Integrative Health. She is a U.S. Army and State Department Veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ms. Maloney served as a legislative assistant in the U.S. Senate and worked on military and Veteran issues. She is a yoga teacher. Ms. Maloney is certified in Mindful Resilience for trauma recovery and leads a weekly meditation class for Veterans on site.

Contact Ms. Maloney at: 202-745-8000, ext. 56310.

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Chmaika Mills, PhD
  • Position: Neuropsychology Fellow

Dr. Chmaika Mills is currently completing a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in clinical and research neuropsychology at the War Related Illness and Injury Student Center (WRIISC) at the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She graduated from the University of Maryland College Park in College Park, MD with a BS in psychology. She earned her MS in Clinical and Counseling Health Psychology from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Philadelphia, PA and her PhD in clinical psychology, with a specialization in adult neuropsychology, from Howard University in Washington, DC. Dr. Mills completed her pre-doctoral internship, with an emphasis in neuropsychology, at the Washington DC VA Medical Center in Washington, DC. Her clinical experiences include neuropsychology and psychotherapy in military and community populations with complex psychiatric and medical histories. Her research interests include traumatic brain injuries, neurocognitive functioning and evaluation, performance/symptom validity tests, mood disorders, and health-related behaviors.

Contact Dr. Mills at: 202-745-8000, ext. 55644.

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Michelle Kennedy Prisco, MSN, ANP-C
  • Position: Environmental Exposure Specialist

Ms. Prisco is an adult nurse practitioner who serves as the environmental exposure specialist DC WRIISC. She obtained her BBA from the University of Notre Dame and her MSN from Yale University. She has worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs since 1994 and was an Army Nurse Corps Officer in the United States Army Reserve. She has published a number of articles in the areas of post-deployment health and infectious disease. Ms. Prisco currently is the lead research investigator working on a VA grant exploring Veterans’ knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions regarding deployment environmental exposures. Ms. Prisco was the Principal Investigator for a VA Merit Grant that explored how complementary and alternative medicine affected combat Veterans with PTSD-related sleep difficulties. She also was a co-investigator for a VA funded study that looked at developing an Environmental Exposure Assessment Tool for combat Veterans returning from Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Ms. Prisco’s research interests include public policy issues, environmental exposure concerns, web-based educational programming, and complementary and alternative medicine. She also is the DC WRIISC webmaster.

Contact Ms. Prisco at: 202-745-8000, ext. 56235.

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Rachel Stewart, PhD, LICSW
  • Positions:
    • Social Worker
    • Statistical Support

Dr. Rachel Stewart is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in the District of Columbia. After receiving her BA degree from the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Stewart went on to receive her MSW and PhD from the National Catholic School of Social Service at Catholic University. Dr. Stewart worked for many years in the private sector specializing in serious mental illness in the hospital, residential, and outpatient settings. Since coming to the VA, Dr. Stewart has served primarily in the Emergency Department where she was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Fast Track program. Dr. Stewart is honored to continue learning from her colleagues and the Veteran community at the Washington, DC WRIISC.

Contact Dr. Stewart at 202-745-8000, ext. 54647.

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WenGuo Yao, BS, MS
  • Position: Clinical Coordinator

Mr. Yao holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in computer science. He plays a key role in coordinating clinical referrals participating in the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center’s National Referral Program.

Contact Mr. Yao at: 202-745-8000, ext. 57554.

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Alex Zajdel, BA
  • Position: Research Assistant

Mr. Zajdel, BA, is a Research Assistant at the DC WRIISC. He graduated from Queens University of Charlotte with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He is a research assistant for the GW-CAM study that is exploring the effects of iRest Yoga Nidra and Auricular Acupuncture in Veterans experiencing fatigue, pain, and cognitive issues. Mr. Zajdel is excited to work with Veterans as he expands his understanding and experience in the field of research and integrated health and wellness, while supporting WRIISC to meet their goals of providing excellent patient care.

Contact Mr. Zajdel at: 202-745-8000, ext. 55768.

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