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Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence

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Staff of the VA Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence

If you would like to contact any of the staff below, please send an e-mail to

VA Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence-East Staff

Francesca Bagnato

Francesca Bagnato, MD, PhD is a general neurologist with special interest in neuroimmunological conditions and the Associate Director of Research for the VA MSCoE-East. She sees patients with neuroimmunological diseases at the Neuroimmunology Clinic of Vanderbilt University Medical Center as well as the Nashville VA HealthCare System. Dr. Bagnato earned a medical degree at the University of Rome La Sapienza in 1996. She accomplished a dual European and American Residency in Neurology, which she completed at the University of Rome La Sapienza and the University of Maryland in Baltimore, MD. She earned a PhD in neuroscience which she completed while performing her studies at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD in 2006. Dr. Bagnato joined Vanderbilt in October 2015 after serving as staff scientist at the NIH. She was recruited to establish the neuroimaging program of the neuroimmunology division, and is currently the Associate Vice Chair of Research at Vanderbilt. Dr. Bagnato has served the Research Advisory Committees of the Italian MS Society, the British MS Society and Department of Defense. She is a standing member of the Clinical Pilot Research Committee, TN/KY Healthcare Advisory Committee, and National Medical Advisory Committee of the National MS Society. She is an ad hoc member of several NIH Study Sections and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (Neuroimaging).

Bethany Ferguson

Bethany Ferguson, LCSW-C joined the MSCoE-East in September 2022 as the Spinal Cord Injury Coordinator/Social Worker. Ms. Ferguson trained as a graduate student with the VA Maryland HCS and has worked within the medical/surgical social work team since 2015.

Sarah Fredrich

Sarah Fredrich, MD works primarily as a clinician-educator through her dual appointment at the VA Maryland HCS, Baltimore, MD, and the University of Maryland Baltimore, providing care for individuals with inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system. Dr. Fredrich joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Neurology in August 2021. She earned her MD from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia, SC, after which she trained as a neurology resident at the University of Virginia. Following the completion of residency training, she sought neurologic subspecialty training at the University of Texas Southwestern. She completed an Autoimmune Neurology Fellowship in 2021, with a special focus on autoimmune encephalitis, paraneoplastic diseases, and demyelinating spectrum disorders including MS, neuromyelitis optica, myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein associate diseases, sarcoidosis, and rheumatologic overlay syndromes. She is additionally involved in national clinical trials investigating new mechanisms of action for MS medications. Her personal research interests include healthcare spending with allocation of resources and antibody mediated neurologic diseases. Dr. Fredrich holds board certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and is involved in the Maryland Center for MS Treatment and Research.

Dan Harrison

Daniel Harrison, MD is a MS specialist and Fellowship Director for the VA MSCoE-East. He is an Associate Professor of Neurology at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine and the Director of the University of Maryland Center for MS. Dr. Harrison directs an active research program focused on the development and validation of new techniques for imaging of the brain and spinal cord for application to MS research and clinical trials. His research program is currently focused on utilization of novel imaging techniques, including ultra-high-field, 7-tesla MRI for visualization of cortical pathology, neurodegeneration, and meningeal inflammation and adaptive optics OCT in MS. Dr. Harrison's research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National MS Society, The Department of Defense, and industry partners. Dr. Harrison is also an active investigator in the Maryland Center for MS clinical trials program.

Shan Jin

Shan Jin, PhD is a statistician and data manager for the VA MSCoE-East. Dr. Jin built and maintains a VA National MS Cohort with records from fiscal year 1997 to current. Dr. Jin supports numerous clinical and research projects related to MS data analysis. He received his Doctorate degree in Applied Mathematics and Master in Statistics from the University of Arizona.

Suma Shah, MD, is a fellowship trained MS Specialist and Assistant Professor of Neurology at Duke University School of Medicine who participates in the care of MS patients both at Duke Health and the Durham VA Hospital. She joined the faculty in 2018 after completing medical school at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, Neurology residency at Duke, and a fellowship in MS/Neuroimmunology at Duke. In addition to her clinical practice, she serves as the Co-Associate Director of Clinical Care, VA MSCoE-East, Regional Director of the Regional MS Center of Excellence for the Durham VA, and the Program Director of the Duke Adult Neurology Residency Program. Dr. Shah is actively involved in Duke Neurology's educational mission teaching and mentoring multiple learners and trainees. She has led curricular development for the Duke Adult Neurology residency program and has been honored with teaching awards including the Golden Apple Teaching Award (2015), E Wayne Massey Residency Teaching Award (2017), and the annual Duke Neurology Faculty Teaching Award (2021, 2022). Her research interests include the intersection of women's health and MS, MOG-antibody disease, and immune-related adverse effects of checkpoint inhibitor therapy.

Ken Walker

Kenith Walker serves as a Program Assistant with the VA MSCoE–East. He previously served as a Program Assistant with the Office of Research & Development for over 2 years at the VAMHCS. Mr. Walker acquired over 8 years as a Title 38 dual status Department of Defense federal employee with the Maryland Army National Guard (MD ANG) in Support Services. He previously served as the Certified Mail Handler and official Mail Instructor for the State of Maryland. Mr. Walker is a retired (20 years), Disabled Combat Veteran, United States Army, US Army Reserves, and the MD ANG. He is also a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc, for over 30 years.

image of Mitchell Wallin, MD, MPH 

Mitchell Wallin, MD, MPH is the Director for the VA MSCoE-East. Dr. Wallin received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. He completed his medicine internship at Northwestern University followed by residency in Neurology at the University of Minnesota. He subsequently pursued a Preventive Medicine residency and earned a Master’s of Public Health/International Health at Johns Hopkins University. While in Baltimore in 1996, Dr. Wallin was recruited by John Kurtzke to join the faculty at the VA Medical Center-Washington, DC and the Neurology Department at Georgetown University. Dr. Wallin holds academic appointments as Associate Professor of Neurology at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He received the 2010 Wolcott National Award for Clinical Leadership, the highest clinical prize within the VA system. His research interests include MS neuroepidemiology/global health, and neurological infections. Dr. Wallin is widely published, has several active research grants, and serves on many national committees.

image of Angela Young, MBA

Angela Young, MBA serves as the Administrative Officer for the VA MSCoE-East, Specialty Care Program Office, VA Central Office, where she manages MS program operations. Ms. Young has been on staff with MSCoE for over 16 years and has served in Veterans Affairs for over 30 years, including work in the VA National Cemetery Administration and now Veterans Health Administration. She works collaboratively with community partners, (internally and external to the VA) and national organizations, that advocate for and support Veterans with MS. Prior to her current position, she served as the Director, Education and Training for the VA MSCoE-East.

VA Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence-West Staff

image of Jodie K. Haselkorn, MD, MPH

Jodie Haselkorn, MD, MPH is Director of the VA MSCoE-West and an Epidemiologist in the VA Puget Sound HCS. Dr. Haselkorn is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and has more than 20 years of direct clinical experience within the Veterans Health Administration in the broad field of musculoskeletal and neurological rehabilitation medicine, specializing in the care of Veterans with MS. Dr. Haselkorn is a Professor in Rehabilitation Medicine, Adjunct Professor in Epidemiology, as well as an Affiliate Professor in Medical History and Ethics at the University of Washington. Dr. Haselkorn has been grant funded by national sources such as the VA, Natonal Institute of Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and has published numerous research articles on MS. In addition, Dr. Haselkorn is invested in translating research findings to the bedside and regularly develops and participates in interdisciplinary MS health care professional education at local, regional, and national levels. Dr. Haselkorn received her Medical Doctor degree from Louisiana State University Medical Center-New Orleans and completed her rehabilitation residency at the University of Washington-Seattle.

image of Jaimie Henry, MPA

Jaimie Henry, MPA is the National Education Coordinator for the VA MSCoE-West. She coordinates educational programs and products for health care professionals as well as Veterans and caregivers. Ms. Henry also acts as liaison with MSCoE Network sites and community and national organizations, internal and external to the VA, that advocate for Veterans with MS. She received her Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Western Oregon University and Master’s degree in Public Administration from Portland State University. She has served within the Veterans Health Administration since 2004.

Linda Hillman

Lynda Hillman, DNP, ARNP is the Clinical Nursing Director for the VA MSCoE-West and a MS Nurse Practitioner at the VA Puget Sound HCS-Seattle. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Washington-Seattle with a focus on process improvement in people with multiple chronic conditions as they transition from inpatient and rehab care to home. Dr. Hillman is Clinical Faculty, Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, University of Washington-Seattle. She has a special interest in integrative medicine and how physical and enrichment activities add to quality of life and health. Dr. Hillman’s publications on MS have been in medical textbooks, journals, and in presentations at educational meetings. Outside of work, her passions include alpine hiking and climbing, cragging, gardening, and handspinning.

Steve Leipertz

Steven Leipertz, PhD is the Associate Director of Informatics for the VA MSCoE-West. Dr. Leipertz manages the MS repository and supports numerous clinical and research projects related to data analysis. Dr. Leipertz has held previous positions within the University of Washington School of Fisheries, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Ichthyology Department at the American Museum of Natural History, NYU Graduate Business School, and Corbis. He received his Doctorate degree from the University of Washington.

image of Lani Pitofsky

Lani Pitofsky has been the Administrative Specialist for the VA MSCoE-West since 2013. She expertly supports all MSCoE functional cores. Her VA career began in 1998 as the Oncology Department’s Administrator at the VA Puget Sound HCS in Seattle. She supported the Directors of the Marrow Transplant Unit and Oncology Department and served as a member of the Cancer Program Committee. In 2007, she was promoted to a Supervisory Administrative Specialist position in Neurology where she provided support to the Director and staff and supervised the Medical Team and Medical Support Assistants. She is an expert in patient care coordination and enjoys helping Veterans navigate the VA System. After growing up in West Africa, Ms. Pitofsky studied Communications at Northwest University where she was the Music Director for the University’s radio station, and tutored French to multiple students. Ms. Pitofsky enjoys living in West Seattle with her husband, a retired slapstick comedian and Ringling Brothers clown, and their two cats. Her passions are cooking, reading, and enjoying her circus family.

image of Alicia Sloan, MPH, MSW, LICSW

Alicia Sloan, MPH, MSW, LICSW is a licensed independent clinical social worker with 20 years of experience working with individuals with MS and other chronic illnesses. She is a Specialty Care Senior Social Worker at VA Puget Sound HCS focusing on Veterans with MS and their care-partners/loved ones. She graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans with a Master of Public Health in 1997 and a Master of Social Work in 2001. She previously worked for the VA MSCoE-West (2002-2018) as a Research and Special Projects Coordinator. She has co-authored MS research and educational publications with VA MSCoE and continues to be affiliated as the VA MSCoE-West social worker and content expert for MS. She is a member of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Summit Program Committee. She is a social work consultant to the National MS Society (NMSS) and their MS Navigator Program. She is on the NMSS Greater Northwest Chapter’s Healthcare Provider Council. She is Secretary of the VA Puget Sound Social Work Service Line’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. In private practice, she is a facilitator of virtual support groups for people living with chronic illness for The Center for Chronic Illness and provides licensing supervision to Social Workers. She has a passion for helping Veterans – her father was a Korea-Era Veteran stationed on the Midway aircraft carrier.

Rebecca Spain

Rebecca Spain, MD, MSPH, FAAN is the Co-Director and Associate Director of Clinical Care for the VA MSCoE-West and an Associate Professor of Neurology at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). She received her Medical Doctorate degree from Case Western Reserve University in 2002. After her medical internship at Brown University, she completed her neurology residency at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. She continued at Jefferson for a two-year MS fellowship studying the effects of MS on the retina of the eye and obtained a Master of Science in Public Health. She joined the clinical faculty at the VA Portland HCS and OHSU in 2008. Her research focuses on studying and treating progressive forms of MS with a focus on wellness approaches.

Aaron Turner

Aaron Turner, PhD is the Co-Associate Director of Research for the VA MSCoE-West. He is also the Director of Rehabilitation Psychology at the VA Puget Sound HCS-Seattle and is a Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington. Dr. Turner maintains an active research program examining health behavior change and psychosocial determinants of quality of life among Veterans and individuals with disabilities. He received his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington.

lindsey Wooliscroft

Lindsey Wooliscroft, MD, MS is the Associate Director of Research for the VA MSCoE-West. Dr. Wooliscroft received her medical degree from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. She completed her medicine internship and neurology residency at Washington University in St. Louis before she was recruited to the VA Portland Health Care System and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) for an MS and Neuroimmunology fellowship. She is currently an Assistant Professor at OHSU. Her research interests include exercise and remyelination therapies in MS and she has been funded by the NIH, Medical Research Foundation, and Myelin Repair Foundation.

image of Vijayshree Yadav, MD, MCR

Vijayshree Yadav, MD, MCR, FANA, FAAN is the Assistant Director for Clinical Care for the VA MSCoE-West and Fellowship Director for the VA MSCoE-West physician fellowship in Portland, OR. She is a Professor of Neurology and Director of the MS Center at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). Dr. Yadav completed her Neurology residency in 2001 and thereafter completed her post-doctoral fellowship in Neuroimmunology and MS from the VA Portland HCS. She obtained her Masters in Clinical Research degree in 2008 and has been involved in clinical research conduct since 2001. She has been PI for a number of studies that have been funded by the National Institute of Health, VA, National MS Society, Private Foundations, and Pharmaceutical Companies. Dr. Yadav’s interest and research in Complementary and Alternative (CAM) therapies for MS has been recognized nationally and she is the lead author on a manuscript describing Clinical Practice Guidelines for neurologists developed under the guidance of the American Academy of Neurology Therapeutics and Technology Committee on the use of CAM therapies in MS.