Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research


Fifth Annual Research Day Poster Contest

The 5th Annual VA Research Day Poster Contest was held in the Truman VA auditorium on September 2nd. Twenty-four research posters were on display, with twenty-three entries in the People’s Choice category and twenty posters entered in the Young Investigator category. Winners of this year’s awards are:

Gupta Suneel, People’s Choice Award – $750 Account with Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research
Nicole Bernskoetter, Young Investigator Award – $750 Account with Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research
Michael Fink, Runner Up, Young Investigator Award – $500 Account with Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research

Special Thank You to:
The more than 130 people who voted
Dr. Tim Hoffman and Tammy Rold
Our Judges: Brenda McCoy, Joe Montgomery, Mary Boese, Rene Nichols,
Tim Morris and Debbie Stewart
Travis Weger, VA Medical Media
Everyone who entered and their VA/MU mentors

Automated radiosynthesis, Prostate cancer, Heart failure and Diabetes

The Fourth Annual VA Research Day Poster Contest saw a new generation of VA research scientists tackling some of the biggest questions in health care for America’s veterans and win funds to help with their work.  May 6, twenty-three young, up-and-coming VA investigators participated in the poster contest.  Among the research topics addressed: Bombesin Research: The prostate cancer Connection; Suppression of cardio-protective molecules by diabetic marker miR-29: A mechanism for the high rate of heart failure in diabetes; and decreased adipocyte size and lipid of high aerobic capacity rats is associated with prpotection from steatosis following a 3-day high fat diet.  Each of these specific research protocol may hold a piece of the answer  to today’s persistent health care questions.

This year saw a tie for First Place in the Young Investigator category in which the investigator must give a brief presentation of her/his poster to a panel of volunteer, lay-persons, who will then score the presentation.  Nicholas Arnold working with Lakshmi Pulakat, PhD., and E. Matthew Morris, working with John Thyfault, PhD., were selected by their respective panel of judges as the best in presentations of their research work.  Second Place in the Young Investigator cetagory went to Nicole Bernskoetter, working with Timothy Hoffman, PhD.  Nicole was also the winner of the People’s Choice Award.  Yes, Nicole won in two categories!   Winners each receive an investigator account provided by the Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research to be used by them to further their research by attending a conference, buying supplies or books, or joining a professional organization of their choice. Awards were presented by Sharon Feltman, MPA, LPN, Executive Director of the Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research and by  Adam Whaley-Connell, O.D., ACOS-R and member of the Foundation Board of Directors.  Congratulations to this year’s VA Investigators!!

Matthew Morris's First Place Young Investigator winning poster,

Matthew Morris’s First Place Young Investigator winning poster,

Nicholas Arnold, First Place Winner with ACOS-R, Dr. Whaley-Connell

Nicholas Arnold, First Place Winner with ACOS-R, Dr. Whaley-Connell

Nicole Bernskoetter, People's Choice Winner

Nicole Bernskoetter, People’s Choice Winner

Nicole, very pleased, won in two categories, the first time that has happened

Nicole, very pleased, won in two categories, the first time that has happened

4th Annual VA Research Day Poster Contest

WIN a $750 Investigator Account

The Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research Presents –

VA Research Day Poster Contest

MAY 6, 2014


COMPETITION           PRIZES                      FOOD 

Categories:        A) Best Poster Presentation – Young Investigator

                                      1st Place – $750, 2nd Place – $500

B)  People’s Choice Award – Best Poster – $750

Prizes:   An Investigator Account with the Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research will be awarded in each category – can be used for education, travel, supplies, publications, memberships that support a VA-R&D-approved research protocol at the Harry S Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital (Truman VA).

Eligibility:    Entrants must hold a paid or a WOC appointment at the Truman VA and must be an investigator with an active VA R&D Committee approved protocol OR be a research staff member associated with an Truman VA investigator.  Young investigators are defined as students, residents, fellows, post-docs, or Truman VA staff within three years of completion of one of these terminal programs.  The People’s Choice Award judging is open to all poster entries!!  Only one entry per individual will be accepted.  A completed ‘Intent to Submit’ form with poster abstract must be submitted to: Sharon.Feltman@va.gov and Mary.Boese@va.gov or to Room E002, Truman VA by COB, April 18, 2014.  

Posters:    Posters should be no larger than 4 feet by 8 feet and address a research issue or area relevant to veterans’ health.

Display Deadline:   Entries must be on display in Truman VA 2nd Floor Auditorium, by 11:00 AM

Judging:    Entrants in theYoung Investigator category will be required to make an oral presentation of their poster to a judging panel comprised of laypersons and others at the VA Research Week event at the Truman VA on May 6 between 12 and 2:30 PM.  Judging will be based on the poster and on the entrants’ ability to communicate the relevance and importance of the scientific findings and the significance to veterans’ health of these findings to a lay audience.  All entries will be displayed in the Truman VA auditorium on May 6, 2014 for judging from 11 AM – 2:30 PM by Truman VA staff, visitors and participants for the People’s Choice Award.  Judging will be based on the content and visual appeal of the posters.  Winners will be announced on May 6, 2014 during the VA Research Week event at the Truman VA.




May 6, 2014

Questions?  Call Sharon at 573-814-6555 or Mary at 573-814-6550


Ladies Auxiliary VFW Gives $25,000 to MoFMR for VA Cancer Research


Rebecca L. Strauss, 2012-13 President, Department of Missouri, Ladies Auxiliary, VFW, says, “Watch what we can do for our Veterans”, by presenting a check for $25,931.79 to the Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit that works to support research and education at the Harry S Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in Columbia Missouri. 

“The check represents a year of fund-raising by the ladies who worked very hard and are proud to be able to contribute in support of continued lung and prostate cancer research here at Truman VA,” said Ms. Strauss.

The check was presented to Sharon Feltman, Executive Director of the Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research in a ceremony in the Pershing Garden at Truman VA on Friday, August 16.  “On behalf of the VA investigators we represent and especially on behalf of the veterans who will benefit from continued cancer research here at Truman VA, thank you to all the members of the Ladies Auxiliary VFW,” said Ms. Feltman.

Present were, front row from left, Dr. Shadi Haddadin, Oncology and Hematology, Truman VA and Principal Investigator for the NCI Oncology Trials at Truman VA; Rebecca L. Strauss, President, Ladies Auxiliary VFW; Sharon Feltman, Executive Director, Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research (MFMR); back row from right, Wynn Volkert, PhD., Chairman, Board of Directors, MFMR; Adam Whaley-Connell, D.O., Associate Chief of Staff, Research, Truman VA; Lana Zerrer, M.D., Chief of Staff, Truman VA; Robert Ritter, Associate Hospital Director; and Rob Crawford, Administrative Officer, Research.

Henrietta and John: Informed Consent, Property Rights and Commercialization of Human Tissue

Who owns the rights and perhaps future commercial value of a person’s human tissues? We’ve all heard of Henrietta Lacks who, in 1951, signed an “operation permit” allowing a surgical procedure placing radium to treat an aggressive form of cervical cancer. During the procedure, a small sample of the tumor was removed and sent to a local tissue culture research lab. The tiny cancerous cells grew into the first immortal cell line: HeLa, which continues to grow to this day.

In 1976, John Moore’s doctor recommended removal of his spleen to treat a case of hairy cell leukemia. Moore signed a standard surgical release with no mention of research during informed consent discussions. Seven years later, Moore was asked to sign a consent granting the university “any and all rights to any cell-line or any other potential product which might be developed from the blood and/or bone marrow obtained from him”. The following year, the university and Moore’s doctor were granted a patent for the Mo cell-line with an estimated value of $2 million. Moore filed suit and the trial court dismissed the complaint. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the decision. The California Supreme Court later refused to accept that a person retains the ownership interest in his tissue.

There are two general categories of human biological materials: repository specimens and research samples. Repository specimens are human biological materials that are kept following removal for routine treatment or diagnosis of disease. Research samples are human biological materials that are acquired for research uses. Both can be identified or unidentified. In a recent report, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), recommends that the office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) interpret the US Code of Federal Regulations at 45 CFR part 46 as:

a) Research conducted with unidentified samples is not human subjects research and not regulated by the Common Rule

b) Research conducted with unlinked samples is research on human subjects and is regulated by the Common Rule, but is eligible for exemption from IRB review pursuant to 45 CFR 46.101(b)(4)

c) Research conducted with coded or identified samples is research on human subjects and regulated by the Common Rule, and is not eligible for exemption from IRB review unless the samples are publicly available as defined by 45 CFR 46.101 (b) (4)

The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Medical Ethics, Opinion 2.08, states:

a) Informed consent must be obtained from patients for the use of organs or tissues in clinical research

b) Potential commercial applications must be disclosed to the patient before profit is realized on products developed from biological materials

c) Human tissue and its products may not be used for commercial purposes without the informed consent of the patient who provided the cellular material

d) Profits may be shared with patients in accordance with lawful contractual agreements

e) Diagnostic and therapeutic alternatives offered to patients by their physicians should conform to standards of good medical practice and not be influenced by commercial potential of the patient’s tissue

Unsettled issues surround informed consent and property rights in human tissue research, and there remain on-going discussions about donor’s rights to control the future use of their tissue samples.

Ibata, Brent A., PhD, JD, MPH, RAC, CCRC. Informed Consent, Property Rights, and Commercialization of Human Tissues, The Monitor, ACRP, (2013).


Binge-drinking rats, Hospital-acquired infections and Mice with PTSD

These are the subjects of the winning posters in the 3rd Annual VA Research Day Poster Contest sponsored by the Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research.  In the first category, Young Investigator, panels of judges listened while young investigators explained their research in laymen terms, then scored each presenter.

Dr. Wynn Volkert, Chair of the MFMR Awards first place to Dr. Koppula

First Place and a $750 Investigator Account with the MFMR was awarded to Purushotham Reddy Koppula for his poster, “Role of NarM, a novel PPIase in the anaerobic growth of biofilm forming pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa“.  Dr. Koppula works with Dr. Lakshmi Pulakat at Truman VA Medical Center.

Dr. Volkert pressents Omar Taranissi with the Second place honor

Second Place in the Young Investigator category was awarded to Omar Taranissi for his poster, “Nights with Hyperarousal and Nightmares: A Model of Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in C57BL/6J Mice”.  Mr. Taranissi, who works with Dr. Mahesh Thakkar at Truman VA, was also honored by State Senator Schaefer at the State Capitol during the Annual Undergraduate Research Day.  See the story at  http://undergradresearch.missouri.edu/forums-conferences/capitol/slideshow.php

The 2013 People’s Choice awared went to Rishi Sharma for his poster, “Sleep Disruption Following Single Episode of Binge Ethanol Drinking involves Altered Sleep Homeostasis”.  Dr. Sharma also works with Dr. Mahesh Thakkar at Truman VA Medical Center.

Dr. Wynn Volkert presents People’s Choice Award to Dr. Rishi Sharma. Graduate Student Samuel Dumomtier also pictured

“This is the third year for the Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research to sponsor the VA Research Day Poster Contest, and each year brings such diverse and interesting topics,” said Dr. Volkert, Chair of the Foundation.  “We’re proud of the VA’s Young Investigators and the work they do.”

Nicholas Arnold, Second Place Poster, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual Meeting

Mr. Nicholas Arnold, an undergraduate student who work as WOC  in the VA laborratry of Dr. Lakshmi Pulakat, presented research at the Undergraduate Poster Competition in the 2013 Experimental Biology Annual Meeting  that was held in Boston this week.

Nicholas Arnold Receives Award

Nick competed in the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) section of the EB  and received a second place  (runner-up) for his presentation and a perfect score from his judges. He is the only undergraduate student from Missouri who is listed in the “2013 Undergraduate Poster Competition Winners and Honorable Mentions list of the ASBMB (http://www.asbmb.org/News.aspx?id=47347).   “We thank the VA and the Research Department for their continued support of our research and for providing us with this excellent research facility,” says Dr. Pulakat.

Lakshmi Pulakat, Ph.D., M. Phil. is a VA Investigator and Professor of Medicine and Nutrition and Exercise Physiology and Professor of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of Missouri, Columbia.


How Does the Missouri Foundation for Medical Research Support VA Investigators?

What is Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research?

The MoFVMR is a congressionally authorized 501-(c)-3 not-for-profit corporation, chartered in Missouri in 1991.  There are 85 such corporations across the country, each works specifically with a VA hospital to support VA-approved research and education projects.

What is the purpose of the Foundation?

The Non-Profits were created so the VA Research program could accept private research and education funds such as funding for clinical trials or industry-sponsored basic science research.  When there is outside funding of a project and there is an intellectual property consideration, a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) is required.  These projects must be administered by the Foundation.

Is there oversight of the Foundation?

MoFVMR has a Board of Directors that meets the 2nd Tuesday of each month in Room B312.  Board meetings are open to the public.  Our Board members are:

Wynn Volkert, PhD., Chair
William Roland, M.D., ACOS-E, Truman VA, Vice-Chair
Acting Director, Truman VA Hospital
Lana Zerrer, M.D. Chief of Staff, Truman VA
Adam Whaley-Connell, D.O., ACOS-R, Truman VA
Carl Block, PhD.
John Dean, MS
Shadi Haddadin, M.D.
Michael Misfeldt, PhD.
Duane Gill, Health System Specialist, Truman VA
Stan Gerling, Senior Vice-Pres, Commercial Banking, Boone County Bank
Don Laird

MoFVMR has an annual audit by the Non-Profit Program Office of the VHA, submits an annual report that goes to Congress, and has an outside independent audit at least every 3 years.  We file a non-profit tax return each year. 

MoFVMR works in cooperation with the HSTMVH Office of Research Admin.  We only accept research and/or education funding for VA R&D Committee-approved or VA Education committee-approved projects.  Our procedures coordinate with those of the VA R&D Committee or Education committee approval process. 

How does the Foundation benefit VA Investigators?

The Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research accepts and administers funds for VA-approved research and education at Harry S Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital.  Benefits to you, the Investigator, include:

  • ·         Low administrative rate, currently 25%
  • ·         No administrative overhead on supply money transfers from MU
  • ·         Investigator Development Accounts (IDA’s)of up to 4% of the grant amount managed by the Foundation
  • ·         Management of grant funds from any source including NHI, DOD, NSF, private foundations and industry sponsors
  • ·         Negotiates with industry sponsors on Intellectual Property Rights (CRADA’s), assists with budgeting, does reporting
  • ·         Can hire part-time or temporary staff for your project directly
  • ·         User-friendly purchasing, travel reimbursements
  • ·         Quarterly account reconciliation
  • ·         Allow Investigators to maintain control of any residual funds
  • ·         Invests about one-third of indirect fees charged into small grants, bridge funding, bio-statistical services, and other support for VA researchers

 How can I utilize the Foundation to administer my next grant?

MoFVMR manages funds when there is no CRADA needed or when a CRADA is required.  If there are Intellectual Property Rights to be negotiated with a private industry sponsor and VA staff, including WOC’s, space or other VA resources are to be used for the study, a CRADA is required.  The MoFVMR Executive Director is responsible for negotiating the CRADA.  The steps to follow for utilizing the MoFVMR to administer your grant funds are:

1.  When the proposal is given to the Research Secretary, a copy should be given to the MoFVMR Executive Director

 2.    If AO Review determines that a CRADA is required, contact MoFVMR staff immediately and forward any written notice to MoFVMR staff.  This will facilitate the CRADA negotiation process.  (Check the website, www.mofmr.org to see the list of industry sponsors with a Master CRADA as this may expedite the process) 

 3.    When IRB approval or Animal approval, if applicable, MFMR receives a copy

 4.     When subcommittee approvals are received, copies are also sent to MoFVMR


5.    When VA R&D Committee approval is received, a copy is sent to MoFVMR


6.    When all VA-required approvals are in place, notify MoFVMR staff of any final approvals/signatures needed from sponsor and the projected payment schedule

 7.    MoFVMR will communicate with the sponsor, accept your funds and contact you when funds are received


8.    MoFVMR staff will meet with the Investigator/Educator to set up a temporarily restricted MoFVMR account

 9.    MoFVMR will negotiate salary agreements, if needed, with MU and/or the VA, pay invoices, provide accounting for purchases, travel, and other expenditures


10.  MoFVMR will provide quarterly account reports on our website, or stop by our office


11.  When all contracts with the sponsor are fulfilled, MoFVMR will hold any residual funds you are allowed to keep and establish an unrestricted account for you

Residual funds may be used to support VA research as the Investigator/Educator chooses.  For example, travel reimbursements, publication fees, staffing of projects, bridge funding, pilot studies, for as long as the I/E has a VA R&D-approved protocol or is seeking additional funding for a VA R&D-approved protocol.

MoFVMR required forms are available on our web site, www.mofmr.org .  Each MoFVMR Investigator/Educator has access to the password-protected section for reviewing their account information, downloading forms and up-dating their research biography.

MoFVMR also seeks and accepts contributions of funds and can assist with establishing an endowment for specific research support, small grants and other VA-research and VA-education related endeavors.  All contributions to the Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research are tax-deductible.

Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research has a website www.mofmr.org to assist you and potential sponsors.  If you are not yet listed as a VA Investigator and wish to be, contact the director, Sharon.Feltman@va.gov for information or to answer any questions you may have.

Congratulations Lakshmi Pulakat, PhD, Recipient of 2013 Excellence in Education Award from MU


Lakshmi Pulakat, PhD., M. Phil., Professor of Medicine, Nutrition & Exercise Physiology and Professor of Medical Pharmacology & Physiology has been chosen to be one of the recipients of 2013 Excellence in Education Award from UM-Columbia. Dr. Pulakat  has trained several undergraduate students from different UM-departments who are now admitted to various medical colleges in the US as well as Post-doctoral fellows who have taken up higher level positions at other academic institutions to continue their biomedical research.  “One of my Post-doctoral Fellows, Dr. Gul, was a winner of the VA Research Day (2011) poster contest and a recipient of an MFMR grant award,” says Pulakat.  Dr. Pulakat is able to provide her mentees with such excellent training due to the high quality research facility at Harry S. Truman Memorial VA Hospital. Dr. Pulakat says, “I wish to sincerely thank the Truman VA staff and administration  and the Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research for the continuous support of my efforts to provide high quality biomedical research training to the new generation of young researchers.”

Dr. Pulakat has been with Truman VA and MU for 3 years.  She continues to be a supporter of the Missouri Foundation for Veterans’ Medical Research.  Congratulations, Lakshmi! 









Celebrating Women in VA Research: Olga V. Glinskii, M.D. & Rebecca Johnson, PhD., R.N., F.A.A.N.

National Women’s History Month 2013:  Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination – Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Olga V. Glinskii, M.D.

VA Investigator Olga V. Glinskii, M.D., says, “Physicians take an oath.  This is what drives me – helping people.  This is my purpose.”   Dr. Glinskii received her M.D. from the State Medical Institute, Chernovtzy, Ukraine in 1982, did a residency at City of Kiev Hospital #9 in Kiev, Ukraine, served as staff Physician at Hospital #10 and in the Hospital for Scientists in Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences in Kiev from 1983 through 1994. Dr. Glinskii came to the US in 1994 with her husband, also a Physician and Scientist, and their two children, who were ages 11 and 9 at the time.  Her husband was invited here to do research at the Cancer Research Center. 

“Our children and their education were our first priority”, says Glinskii, so she chose not to pursue her Physician career in the US, which required being away from her family during four years of the residency.  Instead, she worked her way up again, choosing to become a Scientist. She began as a Research Lab Technician with the Department of Biochemistry at MU and Truman VA, then as a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology at MU and Truman VA, and is now a Research Assistant Professor at MU and a VA Investigator. Studying age-related and gender-related aspects of microvascular physiology, her research focuses on the mechanisms underlying estrogen-dependent remodeling of meningeal and brain microvessels. Another line of investigation focuses on microvascular pathophysiology of hematogenous cancer metastasis. She has multiple publications in peer reviewed journals since 2001.

The Glinskii’s children are now 29 and 26.  Their son, Vladimir, graduated from Harvard and will graduate with his M.D. from Yale in May.  Their daughter, Olga, is getting her PhD. in Cultural Anthropology. 

Dr. Glinskii’s philosophy:  “We believe that doing something you love is the only way to go to work every day. I loved being a Physician in Ukraine, but through research I discovered something in myself.  I love doing research.  As a Physician, I think like a Physician. Research is another way to fulfill my purpose – to help people.”

 Rebecca A. Johnson, PhD., R.N., F.A.A.N.

To combine a love for animals with caring for human well-being may seem to stretch the bounds of career opportunities, but not for Rebecca A. Johnson, PhD., R.N., F.A.A.N.  Building on this combination, Dr. Johnson has found her bliss as a Nurse, a Professor in MU’s School of Nursing and MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine; as founder and Director of the MU Center for Human Animal Interaction; as a VA Research Scientist, and a published author and researcher with multiple awards and honors.

Dr. Johnson has researched and published on elderly issues and minority elderly populations since 1995.  She became interested in human/animal interactions (HAI) through her clinical work as a nurse and discovering that the elderly who were eager to return home to care for a pet were more motivated to comply with doctors’ orders and had a speedier recovery.

Because many older adults are veterans, her interest in HAI and the relationship to improvements in health and well-being among elderly populations soon grew to include younger veterans, also.  “It’s a quality of life issue for veterans,” says Johnson, “receiving unconditional affection and being needed by the animal can instill a sense of well-being in those veterans who are struggling to overcome PTSD or TBI.”

At this writing, Dr. Johnson just received word that a new grant for Therapeutic Horsemanship with Veterans by the Horses and Humans Foundation has been funded.  Dr. Johnson will be inducted into the National Academies of Practice – Veterinary Medicine, March, 2013.  With this position, she says, “I will serve in an advisory capacity in policy matters on key interventions.  My goal is to gain acceptance of collaboration between the veterinary and the human medical communities.”

Dr. Johnson also serves as President of the International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO).  She lives in Columbia with her husband and their two dogs.