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  • We're on a mission...

    The Center for Health Disparities Research at the Medical University of South Carolina is focused on eliminating racial/ethnic, socioeconomic and rural/urban disparities in health.

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    through excellence in all phases of our work and continually improving our programs and practices based on new knowledge.

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HEROIC (COIN) Steering Committee

The Charleston VA Health Equity and Rural Outreach Innovation Center (HEROIC) is one of 19 VA Health Services Research and Development Service (HSR&D) Centers of Innovation (COIN). Work is based at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Charleston, SC, and complemented by efforts at the MUSC Center for Health Disparities Research (CHDR).

HEROIC Steering Committee

Michael J. Fine, MD, MSc – Chair
Dr. Fine is the Director of the VA Health Services Research and Development Service (HSR&D) Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP) and a Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. As an HSR&D COIN director and recognized VA expert in the field of equity, Dr. Fine provides strong leadership to the committee. His professional career has focused on improving the quality and equity of health and health care for patients with common medical conditions. He is particularly interested in research to detect, understand and eliminate disparities among vulnerable patient populations, including racial and ethnic minorities.

Joseph Francis, MD, MPH – Vice Chair
Dr. Francis is the Director of Clinical Analytics and Reporting for the VA Office of Informatics and Analytics. As a core HEROIC operational partner with programmatic responsibility for implementation of center outputs, Dr. Francis provides expertise in the area of operations and dissemination. Dr. Francis is particularly interested in development of performance measurement tools and novel metrics of value to Veterans and their families across the entire VA system. Specifically, he is interested in system-wide “report cards” for documenting and tracing improvements in racial/ethnic, gender and geographic health disparities over time.

Mary C. Fraggos, RN, MS, CNAA, BC
Ms. Fraggos is the Associate Director of Nursing and Patient Care Services at the VAMC in Charleston. She has overall responsibility for planning and organizing integrated nursing and patient care programs for the medical center and clinic. As a member of facility leadership and clinical operations, she provides expertise in hospital operations. She also provides a nursing perspective regarding needs and priorities for research and operations. Lastly, as a Veteran herself, retiring from the US Air Force Reserves as a Lt. Colonel, Ms. Fraggos receives care at the Charleston VAMC and provides input from the perspective of a VA consumer.

Hayden Barry Bosworth, PhD
Dr. Bosworth is the Associate Director of the VA HSR&D Durham Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Professor in Medicine and Psychiatry in the Duke University School of Medicine, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Administration in the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a COIN Associate Director and health services researcher, Dr. Bosworth provides expertise in patient and organization level factors to improve health outcomes. His research interests include self-management and treatment adherence in chronic care, translation of research to improve access to quality care and elimination of health care disparities.

Greer Sullivan, MD
Dr. Sullivan is the Director of the VA HSR&D Center for Mental Healthcare and Outcomes Research (CeMHOR) and Professor in the Division of Health Services Research, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. As a VA Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers (MIRECC) Director and recognized expert in health services research, Dr. Sullivan provides expertise in center operations and research regarding vulnerable populations with serious mental illness. Dr. Sullivan has experience in implementation research, improving access to evidence-based health care, and innovative approaches to engage both academics and community leaders.

Said Ibrahim, MD, MPH
Dr. Ibrahim is the Co-Director of the VA HSR&D Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP) and a Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Ibrahim’s work focuses on quantitative and qualitative research on the impact of race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and culture on health care access, utilization and outcomes. As a COIN Co-Director and health services researcher, Dr. Ibrahim provides expertise in detecting disparities in care, first- through third-generation studies in disparities, and promotion of cultural diversity in medicine to improve minority health.

Earl Newsome III, MA
Mr. Newsome is the Deputy Director of the VA Center for Minority Veterans. He has worked closely with members of HEROIC on several projects in the past, including development of the HEROIC strategic plan. As a key operations partner, Mr. Newsome provides expertise regarding the importance of various projects to the care of minority Veterans and identifying areas of emerging research. In addition, Mr. Newsome assists with dissemination of research results and development of metrics for measuring racial/ethnic disparities through engaging the Minority Veterans Program Coordinators in the field to reach key stakeholders with novel interventions.

Nancy Maher, PhD
Dr. Maher is a Program Analyst for the VA Office of Rural Health. Reporting directly to the Director, Dr. Maher is responsible for establishing collaborations with organizations, implementing pilot programs and overseeing strategic planning to improve quality health care for Veterans living in rural areas. As a key operations partner, Dr. Maher provides expertise regarding implementation of center outputs, including dissemination via the rural consultants located in the field to assist, and development of research questions regarding new models of care and emerging technologies. Dr. Maher is particularly interested in HEROIC’s work regarding geographic disparities, improving access to care, metrics for measuring access and refining measures of rurality. 

Uchenna Uchendu, MD
Dr. Uchendu is the Chief Officer for the VA Office of Health Equity. As a key operations partner, Dr. Uchendu offers expertise in the area of health equity and provides a direct connection to operational efforts to disseminate research findings. Dr. Uchendu is interested in collaborating with HEROIC to develop a system-wide equity report card, sponsoring a health equity research conference, developing a national equity mentoring program, and promoting collaborations to improve the state of health equity research in the VA. In addition, Dr. Uchendu provides guidance on strategic efforts to disseminate VA research beyond the VA through cyber-seminars and special theme issues in scientific journals.

Sabra Slaughter, PhD
Dr. Slaughter is the Chief of Staff, Office of the President at MUSC, as well as an Associate Professor of Family Medicine. Dr. Slaughter’s research interests include improvement in the quality and accessibility of health care, elimination of health disparities in South Carolina, and achievement of population parity in the health professions workforce. As a non-VA member of HEROIC’s academic affiliate, Dr. Slaughter provides expertise in organizational leadership and management, collaboration between multidisciplinary teams of researchers, educators, and health practitioners, and the conduct of complex, multi-component programs. Having served as Principal Investigator of multiple projects related to health disparities, he also serves as a non-VA investigator recognized in HEROIC’s focus area.

Col. Reedy Hopkins, MS
Col. Reedy Hopkins is a local Veteran who receives care at the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC. In addition, his background includes developing and managing strategic plans of financial, operational and human resources business processes, overseeing program work status and costs, and evaluating progress towards goals and objectives. He has worked in both civilian and government organizations, and brings a wealth of expertise in program management, executive leadership, finance and budget management and organizational development. As a Veteran, Col. Hopkins provides an important perspective and complements the committee’s experience and expertise.

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135 Rutledge Ave., Room 280
Charleston, SC 29425-5930
Phone: 843-792-0906
Fax: 843-876-1201