Navy Honor Flight Los Angeles 2018
Navy Honor Flight Los Angeles 2018 — 73rd Anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima


Established in 2018, the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Research and Education Foundation (GLAVREF) results from a merger between two long-standing nonprofit corporations that served Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Health System (VAGLAHS). GLAVREF builds partnerships that strengthen the power of scientific discovery and education to improve the lives of Veterans.

Our organization believes that excellence in administration and capacity building will contribute to a more robust, responsive, and agile research operation at VAGLAHS. All research studies and educational programs supported by VA NPCs benefit the VA’s research mission, including patients and their families.

Services Include:
  • Grants Management
  • Clinical Trial Management
  • Financial Administration
  • Staffing and Procurement
  • Programs
Marine Corps Trials, Cpl. Kathryn Fischer 2020


Our Veterans have given a selfless gift through their service to our country, and they deserve the best health opportunities available. For more than 90 years, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has managed or sponsored research that has led to health care breakthroughs and improved the lives of Veterans and the public. It has been instrumental in medical advancements such as therapies for tuberculosis following World War II, the implantable cardiac pacemaker, the first successful liver transplants, and the first powered ankle-foot prosthesis.  ​

In 1988, Congress authorized the Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers to establish nonprofit research and education foundations that allowed VA investigators to access non-VA-funded research opportunities. Each VA NPC is an independent, state-chartered organization exempt from Federal taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code. Approximately 81 NPCs operate in service to VA across the United States.

Old Soldier’s Home, Circa 1910 – the site of current VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center

Board of Directors

Jennifer Martin

Jennifer L. Martin, PhD, Chair

Associate Director for Clinical and Health Services Research, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System

Dr. Jennifer L. Martin received her PhD from the University of California, San Diego, as part of the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. She completed her clinical psychology residency at Brown University, and a post-doctoral research fellowship at UCLA. Dr. Martin now serves as the Associate Director for Clinical and Health Services Research at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System’s Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC). She is Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is a national leader in sleep research, with a specific focus on insomnia disorder and sleep in geriatric populations and in women Veterans. Dr. Martin currently serves as the Secretary-Treasurer for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the AASM Foundation.

Carl Castro

Carl Castro, PhD, Vice Chair

Professor and Director of the Military and Veteran Programs,
Susan Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, USC

Carl Castro PhD is Professor and Director of the Military and Veteran Programs at the Suzanne
Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California. Dr. Castro is one of the
leading military health theorists in the world today. He received his PhD from the University of Colorado.
He began his military career as an infantryman, completing two tours in Iraq. Current research efforts
include understanding and ameliorating the effects of military trauma and stress on service member
and their families, unit readiness, prevention of suicides and sexual assaults, and evaluating the process
of transition into the military, as well as from military service back to civilian life.

David Beenhouwer

David Beenhouwer, MD, Treasurer and Secretary

Infectious Disease Specialist, Department of Medicine
Professor of Medicine, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine

Dr. Beenhouwer is an Infectious Disease Specialist in the Department of Medicine at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. He is a Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and has an actively funded research program in basic, epidemiological and clinical research in infectious diseases. Dr. Beenhouwer received his medical degree from Yale University and, after his residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, completed a clinical and research fellowship in infectious diseases at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. 
Linda Godleski

Linda Godleski, MD

Associate Chief of Staff for Education

Linda Godleski MD, is the Associate Chief of Staff for Education at VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. Dr. Godleski is the past ASOC-E for the VA Connecticut Healthcare System (VACHS) with Yale as its primary affiliate.  Dr. Godleski also serves in the role of VHA Director of the National Telemental Health Center, where she worked with DEA to develop telemedicine prescribing authorities and served as a consultant to the Department of Defense, the Office of Rural Health, and the Alaskan Federal Healthcare Access Network. She received the VA ‘s highest recognition for educators, the VA Worthen Award for Career Achievement in Academic Excellence. Dr. Godleski is a Professor at Yale School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry. She received her BS degree from Yale, and her MD from the University of Virginia where she also completed her psychiatry residency.


Robert Merchant, JD, LLM

Interim Medical Center Director, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System

Robert Merchant is the Interim Medical Center Director at VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. From July 2020 to April 2023, Mr. Merchant served as the Executive Director (SES) for Ambulatory Care, where he oversaw the delivery of health care to Veterans at ten sites in Kern, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. Mr. Merchant also led the VAGLAHS Veteran Experience Office. Mr. Merchant previously served as the Chief of Strategic and Facility Planning, where he oversaw the development of the West LA Master Plan. He has also served as Special Assistant to the VA Secretary, Executive Assistant to the VA Chief of Staff, and Special Advisor to the VA Deputy Secretary. He has held senior positions at the Department of State in both Baghdad, Iraq and Washington, DC. Mr. Merchant holds a Master of Laws from The George Washington University Law School a Juris Doctor from Penn State University’s Dickinson School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Russian from Juniata College. He served in the United States Navy Reserve for twelve (12) years and is an Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran. His military awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Michael Ong MD, PhD

Associate Chief of Staff for Research

Michael Ong MD, PhD is the Associate Chief of Staff for Research. Dr. Ong is a Professor in Residence of Medicine & Health Policy and Management at UCLA. He is Chief of the Hospitalist Division at the VAGLAHS. Dr. Ong is a practicing general internist. His research interests focus on improving the delivery of appropriate and efficient health care by general internal medicine physicians. His research has applied this focus in several areas of general medicine, including hospital-based care, mental health, and tobacco control. He co-directs the Stakeholder-Partnered Implementation Research and Innovation Translation (SPIRIT) Learning Health System (LHS) Center of Excellence in LHS Researcher Training funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute. He co-leads the BreatheWell and ResearchWell Pods for the Semel Healthy Campus Initiative Center at UCLA and is Vice-Chair of the Academic Medicine College at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Ong is currently Chair of the State of California Tobacco Education and Research Oversight Committee.


Matthew Rettig, MD

Chief, Hematology - Oncology
Professor of Medicine and Urology, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine

Matthew Rettig MD is the Chief of Hematology-Oncology at VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. He is a Professor of
Medicine and Urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, where he serves as the Medical Director of the Prostate
Cancer Program. Dr. Rettig is also the national Co-Director of the VA Precision Oncology Program Cancer of the Prostate (POPCaP).
Dr. Rettig received his medical degree from Duke University and completed internal medicine residency at the University of
Washington, before going on to a hematology-oncology fellowship at UCLA. His clinical and research interests are focused on
genitourinary cancers. He has bench, translational and clinical research programs that span diagnostics, prognostics, therapeutics
and drug development.

Marcia M. Russell

Marcia M. Russell, MD, FACS

Staff Surgeon in Colon and Rectal Surgery
Associate Professor of Surgery,
Vice Chair for Quality and Patient Safety,
Department of Surgery, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine 

Marcia Russell MD, FACS is a Staff Surgeon in Colon and Rectal Surgery at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and Associate Professor of Surgery in the Section of Colon and Rectal Surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Russell received her MD from New York Medical College and completed her General Surgery Residency at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center followed by Colon and Rectal Surgery specialty training at the Lahey Clinic in Boston.  As a member of the core development team of the Coalition for Quality in Geriatric Surgery (CQGS) a collaboration with the ACS; she served as the co-chair of the CQGS Standards Subcommittee. She currently serves as the Vice Chair for the ACS Committee on Geriatric Surgery Verification.

Steven R. Simon

Steven Simon, MD, MPH

Chief of Staff

Steven R. Simon MD, MPH was appointed as Chief of Staff, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, in 2020. Previously, he served as Associate Chief of Staff and Chief of Geriatrics and Extended Care at VA Boston Healthcare System. Dr. Simon is a nationally recognized health services researcher and medical educator. His research focuses on interventions to improve the quality and safety of health care, with special emphasis on the use of educational programs and healthcare information technology to improve the delivery and receipt of care for common medical conditions. He has served as principal investigator on numerous investigator-initiated research grants from the VA Health Services Research and Development Service and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.


Brad Smith

Communications Manager

Brad Smith is an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Navy and a communications specialist with three decades of experience as a journalist and media relations/public affairs manager, in both the public and private sectors. This includes working as reporter and editor at daily newspapers in Los Angeles and Sacramento, as a media relations specialist for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and as a public relations director at the University of California, Los Angeles, and as a corporate communications manager at Northrop Grumman’s Space Park campus in Redondo Beach. A native Angeleno, he is a graduate of California State University Northridge.


Stephanie L. Taylor, PhD, MPH

Director, National Complementary and Integrative Health Evaluation Center
Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine and Department
of Health Policy & Management, UCLA

Stephanie Taylor PhD, MPH is a health services researcher, epidemiologist and sociomedical scientist with over 30 years’ research experience in effectiveness and implementation research at VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, University of California Los Angeles, RAND, and Columbia University. At the VA, she is a Research Career Scientist awardee and directs the VA’s national Complementary and Integrative Health Evaluation Center, which conducts large-scale research studies on the effectiveness and implementation of novel non-pharmacologic “Whole Health” therapies such as meditation, acupuncture, and yoga. For her teams’ research in this area, she was awarded the VA’s national HSR&D Health System Impact Award in 2019. Dr. Taylor also is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine and Department of Health Policy & Management at UCLA. She has served as PI of large pragmatic clinical trials, cost effectiveness studies, national surveys of use and effectiveness, large-scale implementation studies, and studies of educational materials for providers and patients. The topics of her research include psychedelic therapy, socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in health/healthcare, complementary and integrative health, patient safety, and geographic/contextual correlates of health/healthcare. She has authored over 150 peer-reviewed papers and reports and received over $13 million in research funding. She serves on several national review panels and prominent strategic taskforces, including as Chair of NIH/National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s Special Emphasis Review Panels, Chair of VA Health Services Research & Development Center Scientific Merit Review Panels, Member of the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs’ Chronic Pain Management Research Program Programmatic Panel, PCORI, and Member of LA Care’s Technical Advisory Committee. She has served as Associate Editor and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine and served as Editor for Medical Care journal special supplements. She serves on several UCLA and VA post-doctoral programs. She received her Ph.D. in Sociomedical Sciences and her M.P.H. in Epidemiology from Columbia University.

Dean Yamaguchi, MD, PhD

(Ret) Research Director, GRECC
(Ret) Associate Chief of Staff for Research

Dean Yamaguchi MD, PhD held positions as Research Director of the Geriatrics Research, Education, and Clinical Center at the VA prior to becoming Associate Chief of Staff, Research & Development at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. Dr. Yamaguchi received his MD and PhD from Tulane University. Dr. Yamaguchi’s clinical training was done in Obstetrics/Gynecology at the Charity Hospital of Louisiana, Internal Medicine at Tulane University Affiliated Hospitals. Subspecialty in Nephrology at the VA/UCLA Combined Nephrology Fellowship Program with Board Certifications in Internal Medicine and Nephrology. Now retired from the VA and an Emeritus Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He continues to serve the VA as a reviewer for the Career Development program.

Support Our Mission

Greater Los Angeles Veterans Education and Research Foundation: Building partnerships to advance research and education for the health of our Nation’s Veterans. Supporting Veterans health research and education allows our nonprofit to support innovative discoveries in biomedical, clinical, social, and basic research at Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles. Your tax-deductible donation will help ensure that doctors and scientists have the resources they need to succeed, to advance Veterans health. Donate today! GLAVREF is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and your gift is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.Tax ID #83-2316783. If your donation ($5,000 and above) is being made to a specific researcher or research program, GLAVREF will contact you to provide a Donor Statement Regarding Conflicts of Interest.



Post Office Box 25027
Los Angeles, CA


Click map to enlarge

GLAVREF is housed on the grounds of the VA Greater Los Angeles
Healthcare System at 11301 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90073.