Friday, March 29, 2013

Latest High-Level VA Departure: VA's Research Chief

( - The latest high-level departure from the embattled U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VA's research chief, Dr. Joel Kupersmith, was made public today.

Kupersmith, a medical doctor and longstanding head of the VA's Office of Research and Development (ORD), publicly announced his departure in an email this afternoon (below), which notes his signature accomplishments including a massive genomics repository.

Kupersmith's announcement marks the latest high level departure from VA.  Earlier this week, news broke of the imminent retirement of VA Chief of Staff John Gingrich, a Gulf War veteran.

Two weeks ago, VA came under heavy fire at a contentions Congressional investigative hearing filled with weighty accusations by an ex-employee whistleblower and others testifying of VA staff mismanagement, misdirection, obfuscation, and lying related to Gulf War Illness and other post-deployment research.  ( "Whistleblower Accuces Government of Neglecting Suicidal Veterans And Suppressing Science)

In response to those allegations, VA launched an internal investigation by the Office of Research Oversight, a statutorily authorized investigative unit.  91outcomes broke that news earlier this week.

While most of the recent allegations involved VA's Office of Public Health rather than the research office overseen by Kupersmith, a scathing June 19, 2012 report by the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Health (RAC) announced a finding of, "no confidence", in VA for the agency's failure to, “mount even a minimally effective program, while promoting the scientifically discredited view that 1991 Gulf War veterans have no special health problem as a result of their service.” 

VA has been under mounting national criticism, most notably for its failure to remediate a worsening claims backlog and other serious issues affecting hundreds of thousands of veterans.

-Anthony Hardie  

Text of the Email:

From: Kupersmith, Joel (SES EQV) []
Sent: Friday, March 29, 2013 12:09 PM

Dear Colleagues,
After two terms, I will be stepping down in May from my position as the Chief Research and Development Officer (CRADO) in the Veterans Health Administration.   It has been my distinct privilege to lead VA research these past eight years, and with the help of so many wonderful people within and outside of the VA, the program has thrived. VA Research has grown substantially with numerous breakthrough research projects, the introduction of many administrative improvements, and the development of   new methods of conducting research and health care delivery. With the partnership of many colleagues in the academic, medical, and research community, the VA Research program today is at new levels of collaboration with NIH, DoD, and other federal, academic, and industry partners. We’ve made many great strides together; from a component of  our research program winning  the prestigious Baldrige Award in 2010 to one of our signature accomplishments—the Million Veteran Program—now on its way to becoming the largest genomic repository.
I am honored to have served VA and to have enjoyed the longest tenure of a VA CRADO.  It has been a great run and I have many people to thank.   One of the most enjoyable aspects has been visiting our medical centers nationwide and witnessing first-hand the life-changing improvements that are being conducted under VA Research. I commend all of you for your dedication and high caliber work to improve the lives of Veterans.
I look forward to new opportunities and challenges.

Joel Kupersmith, M.D.
Chief Research and Development Officer
Veterans Health Administration

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