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Board

The Veterans Research Alliance Board of Directors is comprised of a group of dedicated men and women with a shared vision of sponsoring research to better the lives of U.S. Veterans. Everybody on the Board has either served in the US Armed Services, or has worked or volunteered in organizations dedicated to veterans’ services.

Todd E. Leigh
VRA President

Philip L. Jelsma
Boardmember

Phil Jelsma practices in corporate, securities, and corporate financing as well as corporate, limited liability company and partnership income tax planning, with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Jelsma also has experience in real estate transactions, syndications, nonprofit corporations and international tax planning. His mergers and acquisitions experience includes representation of buyers and sellers in consolidations, stock and asset purchases, management buyouts, and related transactions. He also advises regarding entity formation, the issuance of stock and other ownership interests, recapitalizations and reorganizations, officer and director issues, corporate governance, stock option and appreciation rights plans, and contract preparation.

Les Linkogle
Boardmember

Les Linkogle served with the 101st Airborne of the US Army. Involved in military combat in Vietnam, he was awarded two Bronze Star medals . Thereafter he was involved with the American National Security Council. While earning his college degree, he embarked on a successful banking career from which he retired in the early 90’s. Mr. Linkogle also built and sold several successful businesses and remains active in politics, which included running for Mayor for the City of Orange. In 1998 he founded Briar Rose Winery known today as making award winning World class Wines, with price tags as high as $1,400 a bottle. Mr. Linkogle served on the Board of Directors of the Wine Institute before he accepted the nomination to serve on the Board of the Veterans Research Corporations Board.

Dr. Mark Murphy
Boardmember

Dr. Murphy is a staff orthopedic surgeon at the VA Medical Center San Diego and a Principal Investigator funded with a VA Merit grant to conduct biomedical research. He also serves as the director of the Core for Micro imaging for the Veterans Medical Research Foundation and is a board member for the Veterans Research Corporation. He is an Associate Clinical professor of Orthopedic Surgery at UCSD School of Medicine actively involved in medical student and orthopedic resident education.

He was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, the second of four children to Dr. Robert Murphy and Doris Murphy (Stevenson), both WW II veterans. Dr. Murphy graduated from Granite Hills High school in El Cajon in 1967 and the University of San Diego in 1971with a BS in Biology. Dr. Murphy received his PhD in Human Anatomy from the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in 1976 and his M.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas in 1980. Dr. Murphy joined the United States Navy as a Medical Corps officer in 1981 and retired from the Navy in October 2002 at the rank of Captain. He did his surgical internship at Naval Medical Center San Diego from 1982‐83. Following internship he spent four (4) years in the Navy fleet as a submarine and diving medical officer from 1983‐87. While still on active duty, Dr. Murphy completed his orthopedic residency at the University of Washington School of Medicine from 1987‐1991.

Following orthopedic training he served as the chief of orthopedic surgery at Naval Hospital Rota Spain from 1991‐93 and as staff orthopedic surgeon and chief of orthopedic surgery at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton from 1993‐2002. Dr. Murphy is married to the former Annette Jones from Spring Valley CA and they have five children. He began his second career at the VA Medical Center San Diego in 2003.

Dr. Jacqueline Parthemore
Boardmember

Dr. Parthemore was Chief of Staff of the VA San Diego Healthcare System for 25 years. She has been recognized for her work in administration, research and teaching. She was the recipient of the 2002 American Hospital Association Award for Excellence and the 2005 National Library of Medicine Local Legend Award in recognition of her accomplishments as a woman in medicine. She has presented her research in bone and mineral topics at numerous scientific conferences, including the Endocrine Society, Bone and Mineral Society and American Federation of Clinical Research. She has published more than 70 scientific articles.

Dr. Parthemore began her affiliation with the VA San Diego Healthcare System and the University of California San Diego in 1972. As a new faculty member she attended on the Medicine inpatient service and in the clinics, taught house staff and students, and collaborated in research, particularly related to the hormones calcitonin and PTH. She also attended at University Hospital in the early years of her career. In the summer of 1974, she received a prestigious four year VA Research Career Development Award.

Dr. Parthemore became Chief of Staff at VA San Diego in 1984. She was the first woman selected for this leadership position. While serving as chief of staff, Dr. Parthemore also continued to serve as a Medicine and Endocrine attending on the inpatient service and in the clinics. In 1984, she was also named Associate Dean for Veterans Affairs and Professor of Medicine at UCSD School of Medicine.

She attended Wellesley College (BA, 1962) and Cornell University Medical College (MD, 1966). She completed her internship and residency in Internal Medicine at The New York Hospital/Cornell in 1969. She was an NIH fellow at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation before joining the VA.

Gary Rossio
Boardmember

Gary Rossio is a Health Systems Consultant who has served on active duty in the US Air Force and in the VA Healthcare System and completed a 38 year federal career in 2009. From 1996 until his retirement he served as the CEO of the VA San Diego Healthcare System and had a prior stint as COO there from 1989-1994. Mr. Rossio has been a veteran’s advocate and helped lead the growth in community awareness of veterans’ needs and for a positive response to veterans’ needs from the VA and other community partners. The large growth in the past decade of veterans in this area needed an expansion of VA sites and services. Mr. Rossio helped by leading his staff to outreach and add facilities in the north county and south bay as well as Imperial County. A OneVA concept has evolved and the strengthening of community support has been enhanced through the development of ties with other county, federal, non-profit and inter-faith networks. In early 2009, the Altarum Institute of Ann Arbor, Michigani established the Veterans Community Action Team Project and brought Mr. Rossio aboard to help work with community leaders to develop a more integrated delivery approach to benefits delivery. In early 2010, the San Diego Veterans Coalition evolved and Mr. Rossio is Co-Chair continuing his advocacy work on a team of dedicated veterans helping other veterans and their families. Gary Rossio is a founding member for the Veterans Research Corporation.

Gary Rossio is a native of Detroit, Michigan and is a graduate of Michigan State University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He and his wife Beverly Rossio, PhD have four children and are involved in numerous faith based, performing arts, and athletic endeavors in the area.

Roger G. Spragg, M.D.
Boardmember

Roger G. Spragg, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego; and volunteer staff, San Diego Veterans Affairs Health Care System· Dr. Spragg served as Professor of Medicine and Vice Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and as Chief of the Medicine Service at the San Diego Veterans Affairs Healthcare System from 1991 to 2006.

Previously, from 1976 – 1991, he was Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at the UCSD Medical Center. Dr. Spragg has been a Visiting Scientist at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute in Vienna, Austria, a member of the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine, and a member of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at UCSD.

Dr. Spragg served as Interim Chair for the Department of Medicine at UCSD from 2000 through 2002. As a UCSD faculty member for over 35, years he has received num erous honors and awards. These honors include an American Thoracic Society Fellowship Award, a National Research Service Award, and the Department of Medicine Chief Residents Teaching Award. Dr. Spragg is a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians and has served on the American Board of Internal Medicine Pulmonary Subspecialty Board and on the Advisory Council of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. As well, he has received recognition as an Established Investigator of the American Lung Association of California. Dr. Spragg is an expert in acute lung injury. His research interests focus primarily on the pathology of the pulmonary surfactant system of the mature lung.

Since 1997, Dr. Spragg has served as a Research Scientist with the Veterans Medical Research Foundation. He has made extensive research contributions to the field of pulmonary medicine and has authored over 150 contributions to the scientific literature.

Jeff Wilber
Boardmember

Jeff Wilber was born and raised in a suburb of Cleveland, OH. Out of high school Jeff enlisted in the U.S. Navy and received training as an Electronics Warfare Technician before being assigned to the USS O’Brien and later the USS Barby. Towards the end of his second enlistment Jeff began taking college classes and later graduated from San Diego State University with a Finance degree. For the last 12 years Jeff has worked in the Banking industry including the last 10 years with Regents Bank.

Jeff is married to Chelsea and they have two children, Abby who is 8 and George who is 6. In his spare time, Jeff enjoys exercise in all forms, reading and spending time with his family.

Joel Brilliant
Boardmember

Joel is currently a Senior Project Manager in the Construction and Operations department of San Diego Gas & Electric Company. He has been with Sempra Energy, the combined utilities of SDG&E and Southern California Gas Company since their merger in 1998 in various leadership and project management positions in Human Resources, Regulatory Affairs, Finance, Meter Reading Operations departments.

Prior to joining Sempra, he was the Corporate Vice President of Global Marketing for an international surplus wholesaler headquartered in Michigan. Previously he was a manager with both General Dynamics Convair and GD International in manufacturing, new business, and HR projects as well as new O&M projects in various countries. Joel retired from the US Navy as a Captain with a Naval Special Warfare career.

He is the past president and/or board member of a number of professional or advisory boards, including the Department of Labor’s National Employer Advisory Council, the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission Advisory Board, SD Society of Human Resource Management, and Home Start (child abuse prevention agency).

Joel has a BS Mathematics from the University of North Carolina and an MBA from USIU and National University. He has been an adjunct professor at USIU, UCSD, SDSU, and NU.

Steve Lewandowski
Executive Director

Steve, A former naval officer has been a business owner/insurance executive in Del Mar for the past 2 decades; However his special passion is working with those who have served our country. Steve has received 6 certificates of special congressional recognition for his work on behalf of our veterans. For 10 years he has been an ambassador for the SEAL Family Foundation and has been instrumental in raising money for such veterans organizations as Honor Flight, The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, The VFW and American Legion where he currently serves as Commander of Encinitas Post 416 and is the Director of PR/Communications for American Legion District 22.