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.Donate
- Grants Management
- Clinical Trial Management
- Financial Administration
- Staffing and Procurement
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.
Board of Directors
David Beenhouwer, MD, Chair
Infectious Disease Specialist, Department of Medicine
Professor of Medicine, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine
Carl Castro, PhD, Treasurer and Secretary
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.
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
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, 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 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.
Communications Manager, Northrop Grumman
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.