Committee Members and Staff - Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses
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Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses

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Committee Members and Staff

Lawrence Steinman, M.D., Chairman
Dr. Lawrence Steinman attended public schools in Culver City California. He then attended Dartmouth College, receiving a BA in physics, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1968. He then attended Harvard Medical School graduating in 1973. Steinman did an internship and residency in neurology at Stanford University Hospital. From 1974 to 1977 he was a post-doctoral fellow with Professor Michael Sela in the Department of Chemical Immunology at the Weizmann Institute and received an NIH post-doctoral Fellowship. He is Board Certified in Neurology and Psychiatry. He is Senior Attending Physician at Stanford and is the Zimmerman Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology. From 2002 to 2011 he served as the Chairman of the Interdepartmental Immunology Program. He received numerous teaching awards during this time, particularly for his course on the Brain and the Immune System. Steinman served in 2014 and 2015 on the IOM-NAS panel on Considerations for Designing an Epidemiologic Study for Multiple Sclerosis and Other Neurologic Disorders in Pre and Post 9/11 Gulf War Veterans. Steinman has received numerous honors: From 1988 to 2002 he received two Senator Jacob Javits Awards from NINDS. In 1994 he won the Fredrich Sasse Prize from the Free University of Berlin. In 2004 he won the Dystel Prize from the National MS Society. In 2008 he received an Honorary Doctorate from Hasselt University. In 2009 he was elected to the Institute of Medicine, now called the National Academy of Medicine. In 2011 he won the Charcot Prize for Lifetime Achievement in MS research from the International Federation of MS Societies. In 2015 he received the Cerami Prize in Translational Medicine. In 2017 he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science. In 2015 he became the first neuroimmunologist elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Steinman served on the Board of Directors at Centocor from 1989 until its sale to Johnson and Johnson. Steinman co-founded several biotech companies including Neurocrine Biosciences, Atreca, Tolerion, and Katexco Pharma.

James N. Baraniuk, M.D.
Dr. Baraniuk is a board-certified physician and Professor of Rheumatology, Immunology, and Allergy and the Director, Bioassay Core, Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at Georgetown University. He is a National and International leader of Gulf War illness, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia with emphasis on pain and neuropathological dysfunction as displayed, in part, by over 170 peer-reviewed manuscripts, solid federal funding, and expert panels he serves, including the high-level distinct panel of Gulf War Illness, Desert Storm after 25 years, co-hosted by the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence Brookings. Dr. Baraniuk has established large clinical research databases and biorepositories using multiple big data approaches. Together, his laboratory and collaborative team are using these tools to dissect clinical phenotypes and pathophysiological mechanisms of chronic fatigue syndrome in Veterans with Gulf War illness distinct from control subjects.

Brent L. Casey
Mr. Casey served as a combat medic with the 82nd Airborne Division in the Persian Gulf in 1990-1991. As a Gulf War Veteran, he has spent many years contributing personal experience, diverse perspectives, and expertise to several organizations. Mr. Casey has participated as an invited speaker for several venues, served as a Consumer Reviewer with the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, and sits, or has sat, on the board of directors for Dogs Helping Heroes, the National Gulf War Resource Center, National Desert Storm War Memorial, and Student Veterans of America, Chapter 227 at Sullivan University. Mr. Casey graduated summa cum laude from Sullivan University with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Business Management and is continuing his education as a graduate student pursuing a doctoral degree in Strategic Management at Sullivan University.

Gaard Richard, COL (Ret.)
Colonel Richard Gaard is a veteran of 35 years in the Army Reserve and a graduate of the Command & General Staff College.  Colonel Gaard’s most recent assignment was serving as Deputy Legislative Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. During this time, Colonel Gaard had many experiences working with various Congressional staffs on veteran issues. Upon retirement from the Pentagon, the Chairman challenged Colonel Gaard to keep advocating for the rights of our veterans back home.  He has been doing just that with many activities! Throughout Colonel Gaard’s military career, he has had various assignments in Japan, Belgium, and Germany besides stateside.  He was chosen one of seven American officers to coordinate the 29 Country Multi-National Peace-Making Exercise at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany.  Colonel Gaard continues to serve West Point Academy as the State Liaison Officer Director of the Iowa Field Force. Colonel Gaard has been an educator/coach for many years with B.A. in Business from Wartburg College, MA from University of Northern Iowa, Educational Administration from Truman State University and MBA studies from University of Melbourne, Australia. As Chairman of the Park and Recreation Board in his hometown, he has recently been working with veterans and city officials to establish a memorial for veterans in northeast Iowa. It is truly an honor to serve on this committee to keep working on protecting and helping our veterans.

Drew A. Helmer, M.D., MS
Dr. Helmer obtained his medical degree at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and his Masters of Science in Health Policy and Management at the Columbia University School of Public Health. Dr. Helmer is an expert in deployment-related health concerns, the impact of combat deployment on the health and well-being of military service members. Dr. Helmer serves as Deputy Director of the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety (IQuESt) at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, TX. Previously, he was the Director of the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) at the VA-New Jersey Health Care System and Associate Professor of Medicine at Rutgers University-New Jersey Medical School. In addition to caring for Veterans and educating providers about post-deployment health, Dr. Helmer studies healthcare utilization and outcomes important to deployed Veterans including chronic pain, exposure concerns, depression and suicidal ideation, mild traumatic brain injury, and sexual health concerns. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed articles and a book for a lay audience on these topics.

Carey Nat Pope, Ph.D.
Dr. Pope has a Ph.D. in Pharmacology/Toxicology, is Regents Professor and Sitlington Endowed Chair in Toxicology, and is Director of the Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program at Oklahoma State University–Stillwater. He has served as past President for the International Neurotoxicology Association, the South Central Chapter of the Society of Toxicology, and the Neurotoxicology Section of the Society of Toxicology. Dr. Pope is a current member of a number of scientific societies and is an associate editor or board member for nine toxicology and pharmacology journals. Dr. Pope’s research interests focus on the effects of xenobiotics, in particular organophosphorus chemicals, on neurological function using biochemical, neurobehavioral, and analytical chemistry approaches. These efforts have led to over 230 published peer-reviewed abstracts, manuscripts, and book chapters in addition to invited speaker requests and participation on advisory panels both nationally and internationally.

Ms. Barbara A. Ward, BSN, MPA 
Ms. Ward is the former Director of the Center for Minority Veterans, Department of Veterans Affairs and current CEO of Ward and Associates, LLC. She is also an air force nurse who served during the Vietnam Era.  Upon her retirement from federal service in 2018, her 47 year professional career included numerous senior executive level positions in the health care industry, state and federal government.  She has worked as an Assistant Hospital Administrator, Vice President of Medical Services, Regional Director of Field Case Management and held several Director positions in state and federal government.  As the former Director of the Center for Minority Veterans, she served as an advisor to the VA Secretary on the needs of minority veterans and was the designated federal officer for the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans.  Additionally, Ms. Ward developed successful programs that specifically targeted outreach to over 5 million minority veterans nationwide to increase utilization of VA benefits.  Prior to this position, Ms. Ward served as the Deputy Secretary for Women and Minority Veterans for the State of California.  Barbara is an adjunct faculty member at Golden Gate University, San Francisco, California.   Barbara obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Tallahassee, Florida and her Master degree in Public Administration, Health Services Management, from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, California.

Jane M. Wasvick, RN, BSN, MSA
Ms. Wasvick spent 45 years in healthcare occupying varying roles in a multi-site healthcare system then became Director of Patient Care in a resort community. Subsequently, she held the position of Vice President of Patient Care and Quality in a Critical Access Hospital. As a surveyor for the Joint Commission, Jane led VA team projects geared toward improving surveying efforts at the VA. She is currently retired, but maintains her RN, MSA license in Minnesota.

William “Bill” A. Watts 
Mr. Watts is a Gulf War Combat Veteran who deployed with the 4th Battalion, 5thAir Defense Artillery, 1st Cavalry Division, during the 1990-1991 Gulf War and liberation of Kuwait. He holds many distinguished awards including the Florida Senate Veterans Champion Award and was honored by Congress with the Veterans Commendation Award.  He continues to serve his Gulf War community locally and Nationally through his leadership volunteer roles on the local Senate Veterans Committee, Director of Operations for Fishing with America’s Finest, a non-profit group which provides Piscatorial (Fishing) Therapy for Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other disabilities, evidence-based research trials to support Gulf War Veterans with illnesses, and Gulf War Veteran-subject matter expert reviewer for the DoD Gulf War illness research program (GWIRP). Mr. Watts was appointed by the Mayor and Council to serve on the Doral Military Advisory Committee and is recognized by Miami-Dade County and the City of Doral Florida, where he currently lives, for his work with Veterans. He is a current member of the National Veterans Affairs (VA) Research Advisory Committee for Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses (RACGWVI) under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

James N. Woody, M.D., Ph.D. 
Dr. James Woody is currently a General Partner at Latterell Venture Partners, a biotechnology venture capital firm in the San Francisco area. He brings more than 25 years of pharmaceutical research and management experience to LVP. Dr. Woody is also currently chairman of Viracta Therapeutics, a company focusing on unique therapies for virally induced cancers. He was founding CEO of Oncomed Pharmaceuticals. He was formerly President and General Manager of Roche Bioscience (former Syntex) in Palo Alto, California, where he had responsibility for all bioscience research and development, ranging from genetics and genomics to clinical development of numerous new pharmaceuticals. Previously, he served as Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President of Research and Development for Centocor, where he was responsible for the discovery and early clinical development of antibody and peptide-based therapeutic products. While at Centocor, Dr. Woody, along with colleagues, developed Remicade, the first of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor biologics, that benefited patients with rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and psoriasis. He also helped develop ReoPro, a novel platelet blocking drug used in conjunction with angioplasty. Prior to Centocor, Woody served as Commanding Officer and Director, U.S. Naval Medical Research and Development Command in Bethesda Maryland. In that role, he was responsible for a wide range of medical research and development activities ranging from transplantation research to infectious diseases. He was responsible for the surveillance, detection, and therapy for all Biologic Warfare Agents and Infectious Diseases in the first Gulf War, and he was awarded the U.S. Navy Legion of Merit for his service. In previous years, as a Navy Medical Officer, Woody served as Commanding Officer of the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit-No. 3 (NAMRU), the U.S. Navy’s biocontainment level 4 facility in Cairo, Egypt, doing infectious disease surveillance over the eastern Mediterranean area, including serving as the World Health Organization HIV Reference Center and training facility for the area. During his Navy career, James Woody and his colleagues in the U.S. Navy, as part of their radiation injury and transplantation research, started the “National Marrow Donor Program”, which has been successful in assisting over 80,000 patients in need of matched marrow transplant donors. Dr. Woody previously served as Chairman of the Board of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital (Stanford). He chairs the LPCH Quality, Service, and Safety Committee. James Woody holds an M.D. from Loma Linda University, trained in Pediatric Immunology at Duke University and Children’s Hospital in Boston (Harvard), and holds a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of London, England. He was Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology at Georgetown University School of Medicine 1982–1996. Dr. Woody has authored or co-authored over 140 publications.

Committe Staff Members

Marsha Turner, MS
(Managing Director and Alternate Designated Federal Officer)
Marsha Turner, RAC-GWVI Acting Managing Director and Alternate Designated Federal Officer, has extensive experience in clinical and coordinated research initiatives with career focus on chronic unexplained medical conditions and stress-related disorders. Ms. Turner is currently working with the Gulf War Research Resource at the Cooperative Studies and Epidemiology Center (CSPEC) in Durham, North Carolina and has coordinated research initiatives within the VA since 2011.  She has a strong interest in improving quality of life for families living with chronic health conditions.

Dan Sloper, M.A.
(Technical Writer/Editor)
Dan Sloper is the Technical Writer and Editor for the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses. In this role, Mr. Sloper prepares, writes and edits documents for the RAC staff and Committee members. He received a Master of Arts in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Saint Cloud State University, Saint Cloud, MN. Part of his experience includes biomedical cancer researcher at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis, MN. He also served in the United States Marine Corps from 1986—1991 working as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Specialist. He is excited to be apart of the RAC team and helping to improve the lives of fellow Veterans and their families.

Stan Corpus, B.A. (Program Coordinator)
Stan Corpus is the Program Coordinator for the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses. In this role, Mr. Corpus provides planning, coordinating, logistics, and administrative support for RAC staff, and Committee members. He received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership from Brandman/Chapman University, Orange CA and a graduate of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy Ft. Bliss, Texas. Mr. Corpus is no stranger to coordinating, having served as an Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Army, and was responsible for coordinating successful major deployments during his time in the military.