Polytrauma Fellowship Seminar Series

Previous VA Polytrauma Talks 2023

May 2023

Afik Faerman, PhD, is a clinical neuropsychology postdoctoral scholar and an incoming NIMH T32 fellow at Stanford University. He completed his clinical training at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Baylor College of Medicine and earned his PhD in clinical psychology with emphasis in neuropsychology from Palo Alto University. His research centers on the modulation of consciousness and its clinical utilities. His work has been acknowledged and supported by the American Psychological Association (APA), the Sleep Research Society (SRS), the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (SCEH), the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH), and more. He is the past chair of the Student Committee at the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC).

Participatory Post-traumatic Confusional State: Current Framework and Future Research

Afik Faerman, PhD

Stanford University

Tuesday, May 09, 2023, 12pm PST


March 2023

Leon Leader Charge, MA is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Rosebud S.D. and a part of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Pine Ridge, S.D. Leon holds a Bachelor of Science Addiction Counseling and Prevention from the University of South Dakota, with an emphasis in treatment and prevention continuum and a Master of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Educational Administration & Leadership, and Addiction Counseling and Prevention from the University of South Dakota Graduate school. Leon has experience in psychological first aid, co-occurring mental health disorders, 12 core functions of a substance abuse counselor, evidence based best practice theories and public health models, facilitation/consultation, national policy formation, advocacy at the state and national level, and recently completed a research project funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) in his tribal community that focused on the intersection of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) and Native American culture. 

Katie Edwards, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska­Lincoln where she directs the Interpersonal Violence Research Laboratory. Using community-based participatory action research, Dr. Edwards seeks to answer two questions: (1) How do we prevent sexual and related forms of violence? and 2) How do we most effectively support survivors in the aftermath of violent victimization? Dr. Edwards' work focuses on minoritized populations, specifically Native American/Indigenous youth and families as well as LGBTQ2S+ youth. To date, she has published more than 200 peer reviewed journal articles and accrued over 20 million dollars in funding for her research.

January 2023

Paul Perrin, PhD, is a Professor of Data Science and Psychology at the University of Virginia. He is jointly appointed as a Research Psychologist and Co-Director of the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center TBI Model Systems Program at the Central Virginia Veterans Affairs Health Care System. He is also an Incoming Editor of the journal Rehabilitation Psychology. His research area focuses on social justice in disability and health.

In this talk he will discuss racial/ethnic disparities exist in most outcomes after traumatic brain injury (TBI). This talk will describe methods for identifying and explaining some of the sources of TBI outcome disparities. It will also cover approaches for leveraging the strengths of individuals with TBI from medically underserved minority communities to maximize rehabilitation outcomes. Finally, it will describe evidence-based TBI caregiver interventions that incorporate family values.

Previous VA Polytrauma Talks 2022

October 2022

Julie Onton, PhD, is a Project Scientist at the Institute for Neural Computation at UC San Diego. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Tufts Graduate School of Biomedical Science. From there she moved to UC San Diego as a postdoctoral fellow. She worked for many years pioneering the use of independent component analysis (ICA) for high density EEG recordings. During this time, she revealed source-level theta activity during working memory and temporal source gamma activity related to the valence of emotional imagery.

In 2009, she began working at the Naval Health Research Center to focus on EEG and MRI applications to study PTSD and TBI pathology and treatments. She is now back at UC San Diego as a Project Scientist now focusing on new ways to visualize and score sleep EEG in a less invasive and cost-effective way that can be applied to the mental health setting.

September 2022

Joyce S. Chung, PhD, MPH, is an integral part of the leadership team for the Polytrauma System of Care at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. Her primary roles are as Site Director for the VA Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Program Analyst/ Researcher, and for the Polytrauma System of Care and Rehabilitation Services.

Dr. Chung's training has been University of California (UC), Berkeley and Yale University. Dr. Chung has worked previously at UC Berkeley and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

Currently, Dr. Chung’s research focus has been on the effect of traumatic brain injury in women. She has also interests in disparities in traumatic brain injury outcomes, virtual reality interventions, and homelessness. She also enjoys volunteering her skills to stand up low-cost/homeless community clinics in downtown San Jose.


May 2022

Afik Faerman, MS, a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology with an emphasis in neuropsychology at Palo Alto University. He is currently a predoctoral intern at Baylor College of Medicine and TIRR Memorial Hermann. His previous clinical training was completed at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He will be starting his postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University in September 2022.

Afik’s research centers on identifying key neurocognitive mechanisms in clinical change, focusing on sleep, pain, and hypnosis.

March 2022

The March 2022, VA Polytrauma Fellowship Seminar featured Dr. Megan Moore, Associate Professor in Direct Practice in the School of Social Work and Core Faculty at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington. Dr. Moore's talk was titled "Disparities in Traumatic Brain Injury Care.

The talk focused on developing strategies to reduce disparities in traumatic brain injury (TBI) care and outcomes from a life course and social justice perspective.

The underlying causes of disparities in TBI care are complex, but include genetics, access and quality of care, language barriers, health behaviors, environmental factors (e.g., exposure to toxins, poor air quality) community resources and limitations (e.g., including poverty, lack of access to healthy foods, violence, and lack of social support). 

February 2022

The February 2022, VA Polytrauma Fellowship Seminar featured Dr. John P. Coetzee, Postdoctoral Scholar in Psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Dr. Coetzee's talk was titled "Brain Aging and Traumatic Brain Injury."

The talk focused on people with a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) as they are at increased risk for developing dementia and tend to develop dementia at earlier ages than the general population. While the source of this increased vulnerability is not well understood, there is evidence that it may involve accelerated aging processes in the brain.Dr. Coetzee reviewed the evidence for a connection between heightened dementia risk in TBI, and accelerated aging in the brains of TBI patients, and will consider whether these processes can be measured effectively by applying brain age algorithms to structural MRI scans, a procedure which may eventually allow us to identify individuals at heightened risk in order to target them for early interventions.

Previous VA Polytrauma Talks 2021

December 2021

The December 2021, VA Polytrauma Fellowship Seminar featured Dr.  Dawn Neumann, PhD from the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital. 

Dr. Neuman's talk was titled "Negative Attributions and Anger after Brain Injury: Risk Factors, Assessment, and Early Efficacy of a New Intervention." 

The presentation reviewed a series of studies examining negative attributions after traumatic brain injury (TBI), including relationships with anger and aggression after TBI; negative attribution bias (e.g., severity of attributions is disproportionate to situation); risk factors for negative attributions after TBI; and assessment tools for evaluating negative attributions after TBI.  Dr. Neumann then presented fresults rom a study that explored the early efficacy of an intervention that teaches participants with TBI perspective-taking skills to reduce negative attributions, and the effect of this intervention on anger and aggression.

November 2021

The November 2021, VA Polytrauma Fellowship Seminar featured Dr.  Marc A Silva, PhD from the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital. 

Dr. Silva's talk excellent talk covered:

1. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

2. The characteristics of OSA

3. Frontline and alternative OSA treatments

4. The health benefits OSA treatment

5. Define persistent airway pressure (PAP) adherence and identify rates of nonadherence in veterans with TBI

6. Demonstrate awareness of interventions designed to improve OSA treatment adherence

October 2021

The October 2021, VA Polytrauma Fellowship Seminar featured Flora Hammond, MD from the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Dr. Hammond talk was titled  "Evidence-based Management of Brain Injury Irritability and Aggression" a copy of her slides are available to download. Her excellent talk covered identifying:

  1. Factors believed to contribute to irritability and aggression after TBI
  2. Pharmacologic interventions that may reduce irritability and aggression following TBI
  3. Non-pharmacologic interventions that may reduce irritability and aggression following TBI

September 2021

The September 2021 Polytrauma Seminar featured Dr. Kirsten Cherian and Dr. John Coetzee with a  talk titled "Safety Profile Study of Ibogaine for Treating Chronic TBI Symptoms."

They presented on a study that they are currently conducting: An observational pre-post study evaluating safety of a naturally occurring psychoactive compound of the tabernanthe iboga plant.

The focus of the study is on individuals with a history of TBI, particularly Special Operations Veterans who have had multiple blast exposures.

Many Special Operations Veterans experience a plethora of health and psychiatric difficulties following their service. Many of them have not received benefit from the treatments available to them.

Ibogaine has shown promise in facilitating significant improvement in multiple symptoms including cognitive, psychological, and physical. They are working to identify a safety profile for this substance, that is currently Schedule 1 in the US, through psychological and neuropsychological testing, and functional imaging.