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War Related Illness and Injury Study Center

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NJ WRIISC's Staff

Sandhya Bandi, M.S
Sandhya Bandi, M.S
  • Position: Program Analyst
  • Team: Data Management and Clinical Services

Ms. Sandhya Bandi has been with the NJ WRIISC since April 2017. She is a Program Analyst and works with the Data and Administrative Core to develop and maintain WRIISC databases across Clinical, Research, and Education Cores. She also works with staff to help and build NJ WRIISC Sharepoint sites and manages the WRIISC Website. Prior to coming to WRIISC, she has worked as an Information Systems Associate at MDRC (Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation) where she was the Systems lead in the IT department and helped build websites, customize various data collection applications using different technologies and propose solutions to make systems more automized. Sandhya received her Masters in Computer Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University in May 2005 and Bachelors in Engineering from Osmania University, India.

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Paulette Brower, LPC, NBCC, MBA
Paulette Brower, LPC, NBCC, MBA
  • Position: Program Analyst
  • Team: Education Services

Paulette Brower, LPC, NBCC, MBA is a Program Analyst with the NJ WRIISC. Ms. Brower joined the WRIISC in March 2019 and supports its Education Mission by managing educational resources and efforts for Veterans and their Providers. Ms. Brower brings over 20 years of higher education experience to the WRIISC. Prior to joining the WRIISC, she directed Academic Advisement Centers, taught as an adjunct faculty, and worked in Counseling and Disaster Mental Health Relief Services. Ms. Brower earned her BA in Botany from Drew University, her MS in Counseling from Seton Hall University, and both her MA in Social Sciences and MBA in Finance from William Paterson University.

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Carrie J. Carlson, DO, FAAFP, IFMCP
Carrie J. Carlson, DO, FAAFP, IFMCP
  • Position: Physician
  • Team: Clinical Services

Dr. Carrie Carlson is a board-certified family medicine physician for over 20 years and has additional certification in functional medicine since 2016.

Before her recent transfer to the NJ WRIISC Team, she worked for the Sioux Falls, South Dakota VA Healthcare System where she was the Whole Health Clinical Director. In that capacity, she ran the Whole Health Wellness Clinic, Integrative Health Clinic, was the Pain Team Clinic Physician, and has also functioned as a primary care provider working with PACT teams within the VA. Prior to working for the VA, she worked in the private sector for a large multi-specialty clinic.

She is a Fellow with the American Academy of Family Medicine, and is on faculty at the University of South Dakota (USD), Sanford School of Medicine. Her work with the USD Medical School includes Pillar 2 (3rd year) Mini-Block Preceptor Director in the Family Medicine Department and teaches Integrative Medicine as well.

Currently, she is finishing a two-year Integrative Medicine Fellowship program, and in her free time, she enjoys her family, trail running, and her horse.

Dr. Carlson will function as a WRIISC Clinical Lead for our vCMI patients. She will also be involved in the WRIISC-Wellness Solutions Group Comprehensive Health Coaching Pilot Program for CMI patients.

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Helena Chandler, PhD
Helena Chandler, PhD
  • Position: Director

Dr. Helena K. Chandler is the Director of NJ WRIISC. She is responsible for overseeing all Center operations and maintaining a high level of quality in clinical, research, and education activities at the NJ WRIISC.

Dr. Chandler joined the WRIISC in 2002 after completing her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at Virginia Tech. She received federal funding for her Postdoctoral Fellowship and gained specialized training in applications of Behavioral Medicine to Veterans with complex and medically unexplained symptoms. Dr. Chandler has collaborated with colleagues at the three WRIISC sites, in the Mental Health & Behavioral Science (MH&BS) division of the East Orange VAMC, and at the UMNDJ-New Jersey Medical School on nine additional federally-funded research projects. These include on multisite studies and clinical trials of new interventions for Veterans.

Dr. Chandler has a particular research interest in three interconnected areas of research: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS), and Healthcare Utilization. The NJ WRIISC continues to be a wonderful environment for Dr. Chandler to connect with Veterans who are both seeking help for themselves and interested in participating in research that will help others.

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Michael J. Falvo, PhD, RCEP
Michael J. Falvo, PhD
  • Positions:
                Co-Director, Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits Center of Excellence
                Principal Investigator, Cardiorespiratory Physiology Laboratory
  • Teams: Research and Clinical Services

Michael J. Falvo, PhD, is the Co-Director of the VA Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits Center of Excellence (AHBPCE) at the NJ WRIISC and Associate Professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. His program of research investigates mechanisms of dyspnea and exercise intolerance in the context of environmental and occupational exposures, and this work is currently supported by the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense. Through the AHBPCE, Dr. Falvo’s laboratory also provides advanced clinical cardiopulmonary services to Veterans through our national outpatient referral program.

Dr. Falvo is a registered clinical exercise physiologist and has completed his degrees in exercise science and kinesiology from The College of New Jersey (BS, 2004), University of Memphis (MS, 2006), and Washington University in Saint Louis (PhD, 2010). He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the WRIISC (2010 - 2012) and joined the WRIISC faculty in 2012.

Research Publications

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Steven Greer, MS, EP-C
Steven Greer, MS, EP-C
  • Positions:
                Cardiorespiratory Physiology Laboratory
                Exercise Physiologist
  • Teams: Research and Clinical Services.

Mr. Steven Greer started his career with the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2014 and joined the WRIISC in 2017. He is an Army veteran and is an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Certified Exercise Physiologist (EP-C). Mr. Greer earned his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and his Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology both from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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Deborah Jewell, BA
Deborah Jewell, BA
  • Position: Program Manager
  • Team: Administration

Ms. Deborah Jewell is the Program Manager at the NJ WRIISC. Ms. Jewell earned her BA degree at New York University majoring in organization communications. She has many years of experience in client services and risk management. Prior to coming to NJ WRIISC, Ms. Jewell worked for a mental illness organization for five years assisting psychologists with daily administrative issues relating to patients.

Currently, Ms. Jewell provides administrative support to the NJ WRIISC Director and supervises all aspects of recruitment of Clinical patients. Since joining the NJ WRIISC in August 2004, the number of Veterans evaluated at the NJ WRIISC has increased substantially. Ms. Jewell has been recognized for providing Veterans with the care, treatment and excellent service that they deserve. She spends an extensive amount of time with Veterans on the phone and in person before and during the visit. Veterans who have come to the center from all over the country have commented that the thought and preparation Ms. Jewell puts into making their visits possible is most helpful to them. She looks forward to continue providing Veterans with a pleasant atmosphere during their visit at the NJ WRIISC.

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Laura Lesnewich, PhD
Laura Lesnewich, PhD
  • Position: Clinical Psychologist
  • Team: Research Services

Dr. Laura Lesnewich joined the WRIISC in September 2021 as an Advanced Fellow in War Related Illnesses under Dr. Lisa McAndrew at the Behavioral Health Research Laboratory (BHRL). Dr. Lesnewich is a clinical psychologist by training and aims to build a career in clinical research. As a post-doctoral fellow at the WRIISC, Dr. Lesnewich is working closely with Dr. McAndrew and the BHRL team on projects related to Veteran-provider concordance in the healthcare setting and dissemination/implementation of evidence-based practices for Gulf War Illness throughout VA. She also works as a treatment provider on an ongoing clinical trial of Problem-Solving Treatment for Veterans with comorbid chronic pain and suicidal ideation (PST for Hope). Dr. Lesnewich earned her PhD in clinical psychology at Rutgers University-New Brunswick (2021) and completed her predoctoral internship at the Coatesville VAMC in Pennsylvania. Her background and primary interests lie in the areas of addiction psychology, Veteran mental healthcare, behavioral medicine, and cognitive behavioral therapies.

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Lisa M. McAndrew, PhD
Lisa M. McAndrew, PhD
  • Positions: Director of Research and Fellowship Director; Acting Director of Risk Communication and Education
  • Teams: Research and Clinical Services

Dr. Lisa M. McAndrew is a Research Scientist, Director of Research and Fellowship Director at the Veterans Affairs New Jersey Healthcare System, War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) and an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology at the University at Albany. The goal of her translational and patient-centered research is to improve the functioning of veterans with complex post-deployment health concerns, particularly medically unexplained symptoms (e.g., Gulf War Illness, chronic pain) including to: (1) understand the impact of deployment on physical symptoms and functioning, (2) determine veterans’ beliefs about medically unexplained symptoms and functioning (3) use veterans’ beliefs to develop behavioral interventions veterans want to receive (4) discover how to implement these interventions in the VA healthcare system. She has over 50 peer-reviewed publications and has been awarded over $7 million dollars to conduct her research from the VA and National Institutes of Health. Her research has been translated and disseminated through-out the VA Healthcare System. She is regularly invited to provide national trainings for providers of veterans with complex post-deployment health concerns and asked to consult on research and care for Gulf War Illness.

Melissa McSwain, MS
Melissa McSwain, MS
  • Position: Research Coordinator
  • Team: Research Services

Melissa joined the WRIISC in December 2016 and currently provides support to the staff as the Research Coordinator. She is a former Naval officer with ten years of operational experience in aviation and intelligence and has served with both the U.S. Central Command out of Bahrain and the Pacific Command out of Pearl Harbor, HI. Prior to joining the WRIISC, she was with Habitat for Humanity; most recently as the Program Director for an affiliate near Seattle, WA. She holds a graduate degree in aeronautical science and will be responsible for administrative functions of the labs and ensuring the progress of the research studies.

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Richard Monaghan, BS
Richard Monaghan, BS
  • Position: Administrative Officer
  • Team: Administration

Mr. Richard Monaghan is the Administrative Officer for the NJ WRIISC. Mr. Monaghan earned his BS from Fairleigh Dickinson University in economics & finance. He has been with the Department of Veterans Affairs for more than 28 years. Seven years were spent in the hospital’s Fiscal Service, and 3 years as a budget analyst for the Research Service before coming to the WRIISC shortly after its inception. Mr. Monaghan is in charge of all administrative functions for the WRIISC and its affiliated research, including all accounting, budgeting, purchasing, contracting, and personnel actions.

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Omowunmi Osinubi, MD, MSc, MBA, FRCA, ABIHM, IFM-CP
Omowunmi Osinubi, MD, MSc, MBA, FRCA, ABIHM, IFM-CP, BCN
  • Position: Director for Clinical Services
  • Team: Clinical Services

Dr. Omowunmi ("Wunmi") Osinubi, MD, MSc, MBA, FRCA, ABIHM, IFM-CP, BCN, is the Director for Clinical Services at the NJ WRIISC. In this position she leads the NJ WRIISC Clinical team in providing excellence in post-deployment health evaluation services to our Nations’ Veterans with deployment-related health and exposure concerns and assists VA clinicians in delivering the highest quality care to this unique group of Veterans.

Dr. Osinubi is a board certified Occupational and Environmental Medicine physician with additional certifications in Integrative Health and Functional Medicine. Prior to joining the WRIISC, she was on Faculty at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now Rutgers University) – School of Public Health and was the Associate Director of the residency program in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. At the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), she directed the Information Toxicology Project funded by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. There, she led the team that wrote the medical toxicology and health effects sections for approximately 1,400 hazardous substances fact sheets, which are part of the New Jersey Right to Know program for hazardous chemicals in the workplace.

Dr. Osinubi has worked with the WRIISC since 2008 and has established herself as a national expert in the exposure concerns of deployed Veterans. Dr. Osinubi provides consultations to Veterans and/or their health care providers on matters relating to complex medical health conditions and exposures of concern during military service. She takes a leading role in educating both the VA provider community and Veterans on exposures from various deployments and the potential for health effects. She was part of the WRIISC team that trained clinicians on deployment-related exposures at conferences across the Nation. Dr. Osinubi also co-developed and provided clinical leadership to the Airborne Hazards Center of Excellence within the WRIISC to comprehensively examine Veterans with cardiopulmonary symptoms and exposure concerns related to poor air quality and potentially toxic respiratory contaminants during their military deployments.

Dr. Osinubi’s past professional experience enhance her current WRIISC leadership role and more importantly, allow our clinical team to develop innovative services that will help to improve the clinical care of Veterans with post-deployment health and exposure concerns.

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Lydia Patrick-Deluca, MSN, RN, APN, NC-BC
Lydia Patrick-Deluca, MSN, RN, APN, NC-BC
  • Position: Nurse Practitioner
  • Team: Clinical Services

Ms. Lydia Patrick-DeLuca earned a BSN and a Master of Science in Nursing from Rutgers College of Nursing where she was also inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society for nurses. She is board certified as an adult nurse practitioner, school nurse/teacher of health and as an Integrative Nurse Coach. She also has expertise in Therapeutic Acupressure and is skilled in Functional Medicine.

Her clinical work experience is diverse, CCU, medical floor, operating room multiple services from traumas to electives. She served as head of the Gyn Oncology & Infertility Service at St. Louis University Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri. She also worked at a private Reproductive Endocrinology practice as a patient educator and IVF coordinator. Ms. Patrick–DeLuca also has experience working as a school nurse/teacher of health in the public schools of Montclair, New Jersey, home health, where she worked as a skilled visiting nurse, nurse preceptor then went into administration for a nonprofit agency in Essex County, New Jersey and at an Integrative Endocrinology practice. She wrote “Behind the OR Doors” in conjunction with the St. Louis University Nursing School, a film to promote peri-operative nursing which aired nationally.

As the team lead, Ms. Patrick-DeLuca brings to the WRIISC her clinical skills and diverse experience to assist in the diagnosing of complex medically unexplained symptoms and post deployment health problems. She is an integral team member and is involved in clinical, coordination, research, as well as education to support the WRIISC mission.

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Lisa Pickett, LCSW
Lydia Patrick-Deluca, MSN, RN, APN
  • Position: Social Work Coordinator
  • Team: Clinical Services

Lisa Pickett, LCSW is the Social Work Coordinator at the NJ WRIISC. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Family Studies from University of Maryland, College Park and Master of Science in Social Work with a clinical concentration and specialization in aging from the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work. She is a licensed clinical social worker in both the State of NY and NJ. She is also certified in gerontology, leadership development and social work supervision.

Ms. Pickett has been working in the VA since 2001 and has experience working with veterans of all eras in addressing their psychosocial concerns. She has a vast array of expertise working in both inpatient and outpatient settings with veterans in the areas of post deployment health specific to complex, chronic medically unexplained symptoms, substance abuse, geriatrics and palliative care. At the WRIISC she oversees the day to day operation of the social work program. She is an integral team member and is involved in clinical, coordination, research, as well as education to support the WRIISC mission.

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Michelle W. Robertson, MD, MPH
Michelle W. Robertson, MD, MPH
  • Position: Staff Physician
  • Team: Clinical Services

Michelle W. Robertson, MD, MPH is an Occupational and Environmental Medicine physician at the NJ WRIISC. Dr. Robertson provides in-person and telephonic consultations to Veterans and affiliated health care providers regarding medically unexplained symptoms and exposures of concern during military service. Dr. Robertson’s other area of interest includes employing the biopsychosocial approach to health to improve quality of life and prevention of chronic disease.

Dr. Robertson is currently on Faculty at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine and previously served as the Associate Director of the residency training program in Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the Rutgers-University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). At the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), she provided care to injured workers and performed surveillance evaluations. In addition, Dr. Robertson evaluated and treated first-responders in the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program.

Dr. Robertson is board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine in Family Practice. In addition, she has completed additional training in Occupational and Environmental Medicine at UMDNJ- Robert Wood Johnson Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine and she is board eligible in Occupational Medicine. She received a Master's degree in Environmental and Occupational Health from the Rutgers-UMDNJ School of Public Health. She is also board certified in Occupational Medicine.

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Christina Rumage-Miller, MSPH
Christina Rumage-Miller, MSPH
  • Position: Education Specialist
  • Team: Education Services

Ms. Christina Rumage-Miller is an Education Specialist at NJ WRIISC. She is Editor of the WRIISC Advantage Newsletter, published three times annually, and is responsible for overseeing/managing WRIISC website content, developing written materials for Veterans and Veteran providers, and assisting with multiple other Center happenings as needed.

Ms. Rumage-Miller joined the NJ WRIISC in November 2001 and was employed as a Patient Services Assistant for approximately three years before becoming an Education Specialist. Her main job responsibilities in this role were to coordinate and provide support for the intake, screening, scheduling, and patient care for each Veteran referred to the WRIISC. Her experience in this position provided her with a strong foundation in understanding Veterans’ healthcare and educational needs and helped prepare her for her current position at the WRIISC.

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Bishoy Samy, MS
Bishoy Samy, MS
  • Position: Biomedical Engineer
  • Team: Research Services

Mr. Bishoy Samy, MS is a biomedical engineer at NJ WRIISC. Mr. Samy joined the WRIISC in 2014 after working for a cardiovascular device company. He earned his BS in Biomedical Engineering in 2012 and MS in Biomedical Engineering in 2013 from the Newark College of Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology where he received several merit-based scholarships. His responsibilities in the lab include performing analysis of various physiological signals collected, developing and testing mathematical algorithms for signal acquisition and processing used in research studies, designing electronics and equipment to meet research needs, and overseeing all research equipment.

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Susan L. Santos, PhD, MS
Susan L. Santos, PhD, MS
  • Position: Senior Consultant
  • Team: Risk Communication/Education Services

Dr. Susan L. Santos is a Senior Consultant for all risk communication/education related activities at the NJ WRIISC. Dr. Santos has over 35 years of risk and health communications experience. She conducts research, develops provider and Veteran education using a variety of formats and develops a range of educational materials on complex health, safety and environmental risk information and deployment related health risks such as exposure concerns and chronic multi symptom/medically unexplained illnesses in Veterans. She also provides education and training to VA staff and providers on risk communication and how to communicate health related information to various stakeholders.

Dr. Santos received her PhD from Northeastern University, where she concentrated in Risk Communication. She received her MS degree in Civil Engineering and Public Health from Tufts University and a BS degree in Chemistry and Sociology from Boston College. Dr. Santos is internationally recognized in the field of risk communication. She has given hundreds of seminars and speeches on the topic of risk and crisis communication and has published in the areas of risk communication, exposure assessment and risk assessment. Dr. Santos served as board member of the National Academy of Medicine as well as a committee member on several committees.

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Edward C Shadiack III, DO, MPH, CPH
Edward C Shadiack III, DO, MPH, CPH
  • Position: Physician
  • Team: Clinical Services

Dr. Shadiack received his Bachelor’s of Science from Rutgers University and a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – School of Osteopathic Medicine, where he continued on for his Family Medicine residency. Dr. Shadiack completed fellowships in War Related Illness at the WRIISC, Osteopathic Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine at the University of North Texas - Health Science Center (UNTHSC), and Mitochondrial Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He obtained his Masters of Public Health at UNTHSC. Dr. Shadiack is board certified in Family Medicine, Osteopathic Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine, Pain Medicine, and Obesity Medicine; he is also Certified in Public Health.

Anays Sotolongo, MD
Anays Sotolongo, MD
  • Position:Co-Director of the Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits Center of Excellence
                   Physician
  • Team: Clinical Services

Dr. Sotolongo is Pulmonary/Critical Care/Sleep physician at the NJ WRIISC. Dr. Sotolongo provides in-person and telephonic consultations to Veterans and affiliated health care providers regarding medically unexplained respiratory symptoms of concern during military service. Dr. Sotolongo’s other area of interest includes airway inflammation in inhalation injury.

Dr. Sotolongo is currently on Faculty at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care and serves as the Medical Director of the Comprehensive Sleep Disorders Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick at the Rutgers-University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). She also works at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), as a pulmonary consultant, where she evaluates and treats first-responders in the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program.

Dr. Sotolongo is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine.

Research Publications

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