VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Advanced Spinal Cord Injury Research - Office of Academic Affiliations
Attention A T users. To access the menus on this page please perform the following steps. 1. Please switch auto forms mode to off. 2. Hit enter to expand a main menu option (Health, Benefits, etc). 3. To enter and activate the submenu links, hit the down arrow. You will now be able to tab or arrow up or down through the submenu options to access/activate the submenu links.

Office of Academic Affiliations


Quick Links

Veterans Crisis Line Badge
My healthevet badge
EBenefits Badge

VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Advanced Spinal Cord Injury Research

VA Advanced Fellowships Programs (Select program and then "Submit" for more information)

Select an Advanced Fellowships Programs


History and Purpose

VA offers the largest system of spinal cord injured patient care in the world. This system includes a network of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Centers, SCI Support Clinics, and SCI Primary Care Teams. The majority of spinal cord impaired veterans in the United States (U.S.) seek care from the VA system. Because of a continuing shortage of physicians with expertise in Spinal Cord Injury Medicine (SCIM), the Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA) has collaborated extensively with the Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders Strategic Healthcare Group to support excellent SCIM training for the past two decades. In 1980, OAA established VA's Spinal Cord Medicine Fellowship Program for qualified physicians at five affiliated VA facilities. Over the years, this increased to nine post-residency fellowship sites.

In 1996, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) recognized SCIM as a subspecialty. Since 1996, ACGME has accredited 13 SCIM residency training programs in medical schools affiliated with VA medical centers. As a result of ACGME recognition, OAA expanded and changed its SCIM physician training in two ways. First, in Academic Year (AY) 2001, OAA offered SCIM subspecialty residency training positions to competitively selected facilities. Simultaneously, OAA phased out its existing SCIM Fellowship Program and started a two-year, post-residency VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Advanced SCIM. The purpose of the new fellowship program was to develop leaders with vision, knowledge, and commitment to SCIM care, research, and education in the 21st century.

To accomplish this, OAA established the new fellowship at eight competitively selected sites. These sites had to have an SCI Center and an affiliation with a medical school having an ACGME-accredited SCIM residency education program. Facilities that had applied for ACGME accreditation and were waiting for results could apply. OAA established these criteria because VA sites affiliated with ACGME-accredited SCIM residency training programs were more likely to offer a critical mass of highly skilled SCIM health care professionals for advanced training in SCIM programs. These sites were also likely to function most effectively in recruiting post-residency Fellows for advanced fellowship training. Such sites were more apt to provide unique opportunities for advanced fellowship training in areas of vital importance to VA, enhance SCIM goals, and provide opportunities to leverage SCIM expertise.

The program utilizes the "hub and spokes" administrative design concept whereby Boston is the hub site and is responsible for developing a national curriculum, strategies for recruitment of fellows, an evaluation plan, and local infrastructure. Boston is also one of the eight "spokes" in that it is a training site as are seven other VA Medical Centers. AY 2001 served as a planning year for competitively selected sites to develop all program aspects. Fellows began in AY 2002.

Program Overview

The VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Advanced SCIM provides two years of post-residency research, education, and clinical learning opportunities to eligible physicians. Fellows spend approximately 75 percent of their time in research and education and 25 percent in clinical care at selected VA sites. Mentors of national stature provide guidance to fellows in rich learning environments. Graduates are expected to be role models in leading, developing, conducting, and evaluating innovative research, education, and clinical care in Spinal Cord Injury Medicine.

Fellowship Requirements

Training: Qualified candidates will have completed an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) approved subspecialty training in SCIM. Candidates who have completed ACGME accredited residency training in another relevant core specialty (e.g., anesthesiology, emergency medicine, family practice, internal medicine, neurological surgery, neurology, orthopedic surgery, pediatrics, physical medicine and rehabilitation, plastic surgery, surgery, or urology) may also be considered if they demonstrate special interest in SCI.

SCI Experience and Interest: Candidates must demonstrate interest and/or have post-residency experience in SCI.

Licensure: Candidates must have an active, unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States.

Visa: Non-US citizens must have a current, unexpired visa.


  • Research methodology
  • Statistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Database use and information management
  • Quality improvement methods and practice
  • Orientation to VA Health Care System
  • Developing, financing and leading SCIM Health Care Systems
  • Legal and ethical issues
  • Advanced clinical training in SCIM
  • Use of technologically advanced therapies and treatments

Some sites offer opportunities for Graduate level studies during the fellowship.


Based on number of years of ACGME-accredited residency training and on salary rates indexed to the affiliated medical school.

Additional support for the educational activities of Advanced SCIM Fellows has been made available through contributions from the United Spinal Association.


To inquire about the fellowship application process and to learn more about the program, interested physicians should write to the site of their choice and send a cover letter and curriculum vitae to that site.

VA Advanced Fellowship Sites in Advanced Spinal Cord Injury Research

Administrative Hub Site

Boston/West Roxbury, MA
Director: Sunil Sabharwal, MD   
Network SCI Service Line Director: VISN 1
SCI Chief, VA Boston Health Care System.
VA Boston Health Care System
West Roxbury Campus (128)
1400 VFW Parkway
West Roxbury, MA 02132
Telephone 857-203-6574
Telephone 857-203-5128
Fax 857-203-5553

Research Focus: Please contact site for details.

Cleveland, OH
Director: Stephen Selkirk, MD, PhD   

Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center (128)
10701 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106

Telephone 216-791-3800 ext. 6076

Research Focus: Please contact site for details.

Dallas, TX
Director: Fides Pacheco, MD 
Administrative Officer: Khairunnisa Veerjee
VA North Texas Health Care System
Dallas VA Medical Center
Spinal Cord Injury Center (128)
4500 S. Lancaster Road
Dallas, TX 75216
Telephone 214-857-1757
Fax 214- 857-1759

Research Focus: Body weight supported treadmill training, Vocational Integration, SCI epidemiology and outcomes.

Miami, FL
Director: Alberto Martinez-Arizala, MD 
Administrative Officer: Arethia Chatmon
VA Medical Center (128)
1201 NW 16th Street
Miami, FL 33125
Telephone 305-575-3174
Fax 305-575-3161

Research Focus: Pain in Spinal Cord Injury

Milwaukee, WI
Director: Vaishnavi Muqeet, MD  
Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center (128)
5000 West National Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53295
Telephone 414-384-2000 ext 42453

Research Focus: Flexible

Palo Alto, CA
Director: Jenny Kiratli 
Co-Director: Vandana Punj, MD
VA Palo Alto Health Care System
3801 Miranda Avenue (128)
Palo Alto, CA 94304
Telephone 650-493-5000 ext. 63028
Fax 650-852-3455

Research Focus: Our global research focus encompasses “Clinical and Functional Outcomes after Spinal Cord Injury.” This includes funded research on musculoskeletal, metabolic, and cardiovascular responses to paralysis, including pilot programs using telehealth technology and customized care management approaches as well as exploration of novel diagnostic and prognostic assessment protocols.

Pittsburgh, PA
Director: Michael L Boninger, MD 
Administrative Officer: Dana Sinciline 
VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
7180 Highland Drive
Bldg-4 Rm 243e 151R-1
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Telephone 412-365-4850
Fax 412-954-5340


Research Focus: Please contact site for details.

Richmond, VA
Director: Lance L. Goetz, MD
Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center (128)
1201 Broad Rock Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23249
Telephone 804-675-5282
SCI Center 804-675-5455
Fax 804-675-5223


Research Focus: Exercise, obesity, metabolism, locomotor training, vocational outcomes

Seattle, WA
Director: Stephen P. Burns, MD 
Administrative Officer: Larry Searle
VA Puget Sound Health Care System (128)
1660 South Columbian Way
Seattle, WA 98108-1597
Telephone 206-764-2332
Fax 206-764-2799

Research Focus: respiratory complications; neurological assessment