Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Houston VA Physician to Serve on Physician Faculty Scholars National Advisory Committee

October 2, 2008

HOUSTON – Laura Petersen, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P., staff physician and principal investigator, Houston VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Center of Excellence at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, was one of five senior investigators from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Research and Development program selected to serve on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Physician Faculty Scholars national advisory committee. She and her colleagues on the national advisory committee will serve as mentors to VA and non-VA physician faculty scholars and participate in the general oversight and direction of the Physician Faculty Scholars program.

Petersen is an associate professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of the Section of Health Services Research in the Department of Medicine. She is a graduate of the VA Health Services Research & Development Career Development Award program as well as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation General Physician Faculty Scholar Award program. Three of her junior faculty mentees hold Career Development Awards from the VA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Petersen is the principal investigator on a total of $5.7 million in grants from the NIH, VA, the American Heart Association, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She directs the VA HSR&D Center of Excellence, one of 13 competitively funded by the VA. The Center houses 160 health services research faculty and staff and has an annual budget of $8.9 million.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Physician Faculty Scholars program is designed to strengthen the leadership and academic productivity of junior medical faculty who are dedicated to improving health and health care. Scholars receive funds to support a research project, at least 50 percent protected time for three years to do their research, active mentorship by nationally recognized leaders, and the opportunity to work with other scholars. Candidates are nominated by the deans of their universities and undergo a competitive selection process.

“This joint mentoring program will help ensure the availability of top quality investigators for the nation at large,” said Jeane Ann Grisso, M.D., senior program officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Physician Faculty Scholars program. “The VA Scholars’ focus on veteran health care issues will bring a new dimension to the Physician Faculty Scholars program.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves.

For over 60 years, the VA Research and Development program has been improving veterans’ lives through innovation and discovery that has led to advances in health care for veterans and all Americans. The VA Research program, unique in that it is the only research program focused wholly on conducting groundbreaking research to meet the full spectrum of veterans’ medical needs, is advantageously part of an integrated health care system with a state-of-the-art electronic health record. Through this dynamic combination, the VA Research program has become an acclaimed model for conducting superior bench-to-bedside research; is positioned to attract the best and brightest investigators, many of whom also work as VA clinicians; and is able to promote the quick translation of research findings into advancements in health care.

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