VA works hard to recruit the best and brightest in the medical field to provide proactive, personalized, patient-driven health care for our Veterans. And from time to time, others outside the VA community take note in the quality and excellence of delivering the best care for our Veterans.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former Times editorial writer Tina Rosenberg wrote in her January 30, 2015 opinion piece in The New York Times that VHA’s accomplishments in reducing hospital-acquired infections are leaving other major health care organizations “in the dust.”

Rosenberg noted in her op-ed that, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a 30.8 percent drop in infections with the resistant staph bacteria MRSA in non-VA hospitals since 2007, 2008, VHA has shown how much faster the rates could be lowered.

“The VA’s achievement is even more remarkable because its patients are older and sicker than patients in other hospitals” Rosenberg wrote. “They are twice as likely to come to the hospital already testing positive for MRSA.”

When a health care provider joins VA, they will have the opportunity to be part of team that specializes in the best practices in research and development to deliver that proactive, personalized, patient-driven health care for our Veterans. Recent accomplishments and honors in VA health care research and development include:

• Dr. Fink, a staff neurologist and an investigator with the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Ann Arbor VA, has pioneered methods to introduce genes into the body to treat chronic pain and other nervous-system diseases. His team led the first human clinical trial of gene therapy for pain. For his efforts, Dr. Fink earned VA’s 2014 Paul B. Magnuson Award.

• Yvette Tache, Ph.D., from the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, received VA’s 2014 Middleton Award for her contributions to the scientific understanding of central nervous system control of peripheral autonomic pathways that influence gastrointestinal function. Her research focuses on clinical disorders of stress-related autonomic dysfunction.

• Eileen G. Collins, Ph.D., R.N., received the Thomas L. Petty Distinguished Pulmonary Scholar Award from the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) at the group’s annual meeting in September 2014. Collins directs the Physical Performance Laboratory at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Ill. She is also a professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on improving the quality of life of patients with chronic illnesses through physical activity, using innovative approaches such as computerized biofeedback for extending exercise endurance.

• Stephen Waxman, M.D., Ph.D., was honored by the American Neurological Association with the Soriano Lectureship, which includes an honorarium, plaque, and support to attend the ANA annual meeting. Waxman, a pioneer in studying pain, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injury, delivered a talk titled, “Novel concepts in pain generation and treatment.”

• Leigh Hochberg, M.D., Ph.D., was also honored by the American Neurological Association with the Derek Denny-Brown Young Neurological Scholar Award, which recognizes “early- to mid-career neurologists and neuroscientists who have made outstanding basic and clinical scientific advances toward the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of neurological diseases.” Hochberg’s research focuses on learning how to decode signals from the part of the brain that controls movement, with the goal of enabling people with limited mobility to control external assistive devices using only their thoughts. His work has been integral to the BrainGate brain-computer interface project.

During your career at VA you will have opportunities to gain knowledge and work with VA researchers and health care leaders. No matter where your expertise and training falls, you can play an important role in creating innovations that advance health care for our Veterans and the nation.

To learn more about an exciting career at VA, visit Also, please check out the latest VA career videos to get an employee’s take on a career at VA.

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Published on Feb. 6, 2015

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