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Minneapolis VA Health Care System Research Service

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Leadership Team

Steven Fu

Steven Fu, MD, MSCE

Associate Chief of Staff for Research; Director, CCDOR

612-467-2800 |

Dr. Fu is interested in smoking cessation and tobacco-related health disparities. His research is focused on identifying best practices for improving the delivery and utilization of tobacco dependence treatments among diverse and disadvantaged populations. Dr. Fu is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota and Director of the VA Center for Care Delivery and Outcomes Research (CCDOR). He is a graduate of Jefferson Medical College (MD) and the University of Pennsylvania (BS, MSCE).

Joshua Nixon

Joshua P. Nixon, PhD

Deputy Associate Chief of Staff for Research

612-467-2804 |

Dr. Nixon has a longstanding research interest in neural mechanisms driving behavior and how environmental triggers influence these brain systems. His work focuses on pre-clinical models. He has a broad background in behavioral neuroscience, with specific experience and training in circadian biology, obesity and ingestive behavior, neuroprotection, and neurodegenerative disease. He serves as Chair of the facility Subcommittee on Research Safety, and leads the Research Information Protection & Security working group. Dr. Nixon is an Assistant Professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Surgery, an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Food Science and Nutrition, and a graduate of Michigan State University (BS, PhD).

10 year VA service pin

Matthew Rassette, DVM

Veterinary Medical Officer; Chair, Research & Development Committee

612-467-4585 |

Dr. Rassette is one of two Veterinary Medical Officers for the MVAHCS Research program, and also serves on the Subcommittee on Research Safety, the Institutional Biosafety Committee, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, and was appointed as Chair of the Research and Development Committee in 2019. He is a Certified Professional IACUC Administrator (CPIA) and was admitted as a Diplomate into the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine. Dr. Rassette is a graduate of Georgetown University (BS) and the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine (DVM).

Andrew Mass

Andrew Mass, MBA

Administrative Officer

612-467-2814 |

Mr. Mass served as the Budget Analyst for the Minneapolis VA Research program since returning from deployment in late 2010. He began serving as Administrative Officer in the summer of 2020. He loves working with numbers and creating tools that give investigators a more empowered look at their studies. Mr. Mass completed his undergraduate work at Michigan State University and earned his MBA at Purdue University.

15 year VA service pin

Julie Toth, RN, CCRC, CIP

Director, Human Research Protection Program

612-467-5655 |

Ms. Toth served as the Administrator of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System IRB beginning in 2011, recently expanding the scope of her work to direct the MVAHCS Human Research Protection Program. She worked many years as a research study coordinator/research nurse, most recently in heart failure research at MVAHCS. She brings the researcher perspective to her work guiding investigators through the regulatory process, and enjoys discussing new projects, as well as challenges in existing projects, with the investigative teams.

Aimee Hamel

Aimee Hamel, RN

Research Nurse Manager

612-467-5806 |

Ms. Hamel is the Nurse Manager for the Minneapolis VA Research Program. She began her work at the Minneapolis VA in 2014, as a research nurse working with heart failure, COPD, and lung cancer populations. She expanded into her current role in 2022, bringing her nursing and research experience to assisting investigative teams, particularly Study Coordinators and Nurses. She received her BA from Hamline University and her Masters of Nursing from the University of Minnesota, where she is currently in the Nursing PhD Program. Her research interests include advanced heart failure, qualitative and mixed methods. She appreciates that her role as Research Nurse Manager allows her to advocate for Veteran participants and provides opportunities to support clinical researchers in implementing their studies.

Lisa Smith

Lisa Ann Smith, BSN

Research Nurse Informaticist

612-467-1173 |

Ms. Smith joined the Minneapolis VA in 2019 as a study coordinator and began her nurse informaticist role in the fall of 2022. After obtaining her BS in Microbiology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, she began her 13-year career as a research scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Minnesota. She worked on a variety of organisms including microbes, plants, animals, and insects. She completed her AD in Nursing and later a BSN at The University of St. Catherine’s, after which she worked in the private sector for 12 years. During this time, she served in many roles including critical care float and cardiac catheterization lab RN. She maintained her connection to research by focusing her efforts on creating and publishing a model to predict C. difficile infection and implementing practice standards for ECG monitoring. Her current focus is to support research staff in obtaining research funding, providing data preparatory to research, enhancing participant screening practices, and curating data for research and analysis.