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VA Palo Alto Health Care System


SCI Staff

Doug Ota, MD, Chief of SCI Service Doug Ota, MD, Chief of SCI Service
Dr. Ota joined the SCI Center in 2000 and has served as Director of Outpatient Services since 2001. He received his medical training at the University of Utah, completed residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at Stanford University, and then a SCI Medicine Fellowship here at the VA Palo Alto. He is board certified in both PM&R and SCI Medicine and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University. Dr. Ota has developed a patient-based focus of clinical research, including participation in the implementation of a clinic to clinic telemedicine program using the Hub and Spokes model; validation of telehealth for assessment of secondary conditions; and currently, a multi-site vocational rehabilitation study using an evidence-based supported employment model.

Vandana Punj, MD, Medical Director, Inpatient Services Vandana Punj, MD, Medical Director, Inpatient Services
Dr. Punj has been practicing full-time in SCI Medicine since 1999 after completing a PM&R residency at Loma Linda University Medical Center. She completed a VA/Stanford SCI Medicine (SCIM) Fellowship in 2000 and was board certified in this field in 2001. Dr. Punj is actively involved in interacting with, supervising, and teaching the PM&R residents on the SCIM rotation at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, as well as being the primary preceptor for the SCIM Fellows since 2001. As the Medical Director for the Inpatient program at the Spinal Cord Injury Center she is involved in direct clinical care for patients as well as all aspects of program development. Her research interests include insulin resistance in the SCI population and prognostication of recovery using quantitative EMG in acute tetraplegia.

Gail Earley Gail Earley, Administrative Officer
Gail Earley was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and grew up as a "military brat" as a result of her father's 20-year active military career with the U.S. Navy. She has lived in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Maryland, Washington DC, Hawaii - and now California. Gail has a B.S. in Life Science from Pennsylvania State University and a certificate in Business Administration from De Anza College. Gail joined the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in 2008 and has been the Administrative Officer for the SCI Center since 2010. She is an active participant in the Stanford Medical Youth Science Summer Residential Program mentoring low-income and ethnically diverse high school students. In her free time, Gail enjoys travel, photography, music, and is an avid movie buff.

Jenny Kiratli B. Jenny Kiratli, PhD, Director, Clinical Research Program
Dr. Kiratli joined the SCI Center in 1991 and has developed a broad-based program of funded research addressing the needs of persons with SCI. She has received funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Department of Defense. Her focus includes musculoskeletal and metabolic responses to SCI, enhancing clinical outcomes, and preservation and restoration of upper extremity function. Her current projects relate to effectiveness of home-based exercise and facilitating outpatient wellness. Dr. Kiratli has a strong interest in mentoring junior investigators and fostering partnerships with clinicians interested in research. She is Associate Director of the ACGME SCI Medicine Fellowship and Program Director for the VA Advanced SCI Medicine Fellowship Program. She is also Clinical Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery (Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation) at Stanford School of Medicine. She serves on the Research Committees of the Academy of SCI Professionals and is a charter member of the VA Central IRB, which oversees human rights protections in multi-site VA research projects.

Graham Creasey, MD, Staff Physician Graham Creasey, MD, Staff Physician
Dr. Creasey, formerly the Chief of the Spinal Cord Injury Service at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, serves now as Staff Physician at VAPAHCS. He is also the Paralyzed Veterans of America Professor of Spinal Cord Injury Medicine at Stanford University. He attended the University of Edinburgh Medical School in Scotland and completed specialty and sub-specialty training and accreditation in Surgery and Spinal Injuries at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Along with his clinical role, he has been actively engaged in research, mainly on the restoration of bladder, bowel and sexual function using electrical stimulation. Dr. Creasey is also dedicated to training junior physicians and retaining outstanding young physicians in the VA Spinal Cord Injury System of Care.

Steve Linder, MD, Staff Physician Steve Linder, MD, Staff Physician
Dr. Linder is a VA staff physician responsible for direct care on a daily basis with as-needed subspecialty consultation for conditions resulting from either late effects of spinal cord injury or acute spinal cord injury that have been transferred to the SCI/polytrauma care setting. Dr. Linder has a strong interest in interventions leading to more enlightened approaches to opioid usage in managing non-cancer chronic pain in patients with SCI. He is specifically interested in discussions of hypogonadaism due to opioid-treated chronic pain therapy and opioid hyperalgesia-indications for opioid rotation.

Tim Pence Benjamin Tim Pence, DO, Staff Physician
Dr. Pence received his DO from Tuoro College of Osteopathic Medicine, completed residency training in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Stanford University School of Medicine, followed by SCI Medicine Fellowship training at Baylor University, Houston, Texas. He joined the VA Palo Alto Health Care System SCI/D Center in 2013 as a staff physician. His interests and expertise include acute rehabilitation, shoulder dysfunction, musculoskeletal ultrasound diagnostic technology, and residency teaching. He also has a history as a ring side doctor for amateur mixed martial arts, as well as continuing practice in martial arts and alternative medicine.

Roy Sasaki, MD, Staff Physician Roy Sasaki, MD, Staff Physician
Dr. Sasaki has been a staff physician on the SCI Service since 1993. He completed his medical training at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and then pursued residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Hawaii Integrated Medical Residency. He subsequently completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Stanford University Medical School. Dr. Sasaki became board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in 1998 and in Spinal Cord Injury Medicine in 1999. He is currently a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Academy of SCI Professionals.

Jennifer Gaoteote Jennifer Gaoteote, BSN, RN, Nurse Manager
Jennifer Gaoteote is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University where she attained her Bachelors of Science in Nursing. She joined the Spinal Cord Injury team in 2001 as a staff nurse and has worked diligently until present. She became the Nurse Manager in September of 2013 and has been working alongside her peers in working towards excellence.

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