United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses

Members and Consultants

James H. Binns (Committee Chair)
Mr. Binns is a former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, and a Vietnam veteran. He is also former chairman of Parallel Design and past president of ADR Ultrasound, two medical imaging manufacturing companies that he led from startup to merger with General Electric and Squibb, respectively. He is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School.

James A. Bunker
James A. Bunker is the Executive Director of the National Gulf War Resource Center (NGWRC) and has been on the Board of Directors since 2002. During Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm, Jim was assigned to the Tactical Operations Center of the 4th Battalion, 5th Field Artillery, commanded by LTC John R. Gingrich. He was EVAC out and later medically discharged due to injuries from his service. Since his discharge, he has worked with grassroots organizations to provide information to veterans and their supporters regarding health care and claims. He is an advocate for changes in VA policy and legislation to improve quality of life for veterans. Jim successfully lobbied the Kansas Legislature to create the Kansas Persian Gulf War Veterans Health Initiative. Jim then served as chair of the advisory board. This group sponsored groundbreaking research by Lea Steele, PhD, commonly known as the Kansas Study after its publication, which showed a connection between deployment in the Southwest Asia Theater and Gulf War Illness. Jim received special recognition from both chambers of the Kansas Legislature for his advocacy work on behalf of Kansas Veterans.

Floyd E. Bloom, MD
Dr. Bloom is Professor Emeritus in the Molecular and Integrative Neuroscience Department at The Scripps Research Institute, and was the Founding CEO and Board Chairman of Neurome, Inc. He is a distinguished neuroscientist who pioneered the use of modern molecular biological and database techniques in brain research. Dr. Bloom is a past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Philosophical Society, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Science. He has authored or coauthored over 700 scientific articles and is the immediate past Editor-in-Chief of Science Magazine.

Fiona Crawford, PhD
Dr. Crawford is a neuroscientist, the President of the Roskamp Institute, an independent research institute in Sarasota, Florida, and a VA researcher. Her early Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) research identified disease-causing mutations which enabled the development of cell and animal models of the disease. Through extensive preclinical and clinical research, the Institute’s drug discovery program has advanced a novel drug into a Phase III AD clinical trial. In addition to AD, her neuroscience research is focused on military and veterans’ issues, primarily Gulf War Illness (GWI), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She is developing and utilizing novel, clinically relevant, laboratory models coupled with state-of-the-art “omic” technology to identify therapeutic targets and blood biomarkers in these complex conditions. She publishes extensively in peer-reviewed journals on her work, and is funded by the Veterans Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.

Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD
Dr. Golomb is Professor of Medicine and of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California at San Diego with 22 years’ experience caring for veteran patients. Her research focuses on the relation of oxidative stress and cell energetics to exposures, medications, diet, health, aging and disease; on research methodology; and on Gulf War illness. Working for RAND, she traveled to the Middle East on a fact-finding mission related to this issue, and has authored several RAND reports on the relation of exposures to illness in Gulf War veterans.

Joel C. Graves, DMin
Rev. Dr. Graves is an Anglican priest and Gulf War veteran. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1997 as a captain, after serving as enlisted for nine years and an armor officer for nine years. During the Gulf War he served as battalion adjutant, responsible for medical and maintenance recovery assets for the 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment of the 1st “Tiger” Brigade Independent Task Force. His unit served on the left flank of the 2nd Marine Division and took the northern part of Kuwait City. He has Gulf War illness.

Nancy Klimas, MD
Nancy Klimas MD is Director of Clinical Immunology Research at the Miami VAMC and directs the GWI and ME/CFS clinical and research program at the Miami VA. She is Director of the Nova Southeastern University Institute for Neuro-Immune Medicine; Professor of Medicine and Chair of the Department of Clinical Immunology at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine; and Professor Emerita, University of Miami School of Medicine. She is a member of the VA Research Advisory Committee for GWI, the NIH P2P CFS/ME committee, the Institute of Medicine ME/CFS review panel and has advised three Secretaries of Health and Human Services during her repeated service on the HHS CFS Advisory Committee. She is currently funded by the VA, DoD and NIH to study these complex disorders using a systems biology approach with a strong focus on illness models that lead to therapeutic targets and clinical trials.

James P. O’Callaghan, PhD
Dr. O’Callaghan serves as CDC Distinguished Consultant, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-NIOSH, and Head of the Molecular Neurotoxicology Laboratory in the Toxicology and Molecular Biology Branch of the Health Effects Laboratory Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NIOSH, Morgantown, WV. His research group investigates the molecular and cellular basis of gliosis, a dominant response of the central nervous system to chemical- and disease-induced injury. Prior to joining CDC-NIOSH, Dr. O’Callaghan served as the Senior Science Adviser to the Neurotoxicology Division of the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At the EPA and CDC-NIOSH, Dr. O’Callaghan has conducted extensive research on the neurotoxicity profiles of many types of chemicals. He also has examined the neurotoxic effects of drugs of abuse, nerve agents, and pesticides under external sponsorship (NIDA, DoD, CDC Foundation). Dr. O’Callaghan has co-authored over 175 scientific papers in the area of neurotoxicology and his research findings have been presented by invitation at numerous national and international conferences. In 1992 he was awarded the EPA’s and the Society of Toxicology’s Science Achievement Award for his work in developing and validating a bioassay for neurotoxicity. Because of Dr. O’Callaghan’s expertise in the area of neurotoxicity, he has worked as a consultant for a number of public and private institutions, including the U.S. FDA, the U.S. Army, the VA and the NIH.

Stephen Ondra, MD
Dr. Stephen Ondra was named senior vice president and enterprise chief medical officer at Health Care Service Corporation in February 2013. Previously, he served as senior vice president and chief medical officer at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. In his new role, Dr. Ondra will report directly to the HCSC president and CEO and will be involved in a wide range of corporate activities and strategic policy planning. Dr. Ondra served in military during the Gulf War. He then served in government as an advisor in the Obama Administration from 2009 to 2012. In 2009, he was appointed by President Obama, as the senior advisor for Health Affairs to Secretary Shinseki at the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2010, he was moved to the Executive Office of the President and served in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. In addition to other duties at the White House, he served as a co-chair of the National Science and Technology Council for Health Information Technology, on the Deputy group for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and on the Federal Health Information Technology Policy and Standards Committees.

Martin A. Philbert, PhD
Dr. Philbert is the Dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health. His research focuses on the development of flexible polymer nanoplatforms for optical sensing in tissues and the early detection and treatment of brain tumors. He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed scholarly manuscripts, abstracts and book chapters. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (U.K.) and a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences (USA). He is the Chair of the newly formed U.S.-EPA Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee that provides peer review of IRIS assessments. Dr. Philbert has served as the Chair of the US-FDA Science Advisory Board, and Co-Chair of the US-EPA Board of Scientific Counselors.

Lea Steele, PhD
Dr. Lea Steele is Research Professor of Biomedical Studies at Baylor University where she directs the Veterans Heath Research Program, a multidisciplinary program that conducts clinical and epidemiologic studies focused on complex health conditions affecting war veterans. She is an epidemiologist and human ecologist whose research, since 1998, has focused on the health consequences of military service in the 1991 Gulf War. Dr. Steele is Past Scientific Director of the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses. She previously directed the Kansas Persian Gulf War Veterans Health Initiative, a research and service program sponsored by the State of Kansas, and was principal investigator of the Kansas Gulf Veterans Health Study.

Roberta F. White, PhD (Scientific Director)
Dr. White is Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Health at Boston University School of Public Health, where she is also the Associate Dean for Research. She is a neuropsychologist with expertise in environmental and occupational epidemiology. Author of numerous scientific publications, her research interests include evaluation of chronic effects of exposure to neurotoxicants, the use of imaging in behavioral toxicology, modeling the effects of exposures to toxicant mixtures and exposures in the context of other environmental stressors, and the effects of exposures in vulnerable populations.

Staff Member to the Committee

Kimberly Sullivan, PhD (Associate Scientific Director)
Dr. Sullivan is a Research Assistant Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health Department of Environmental Health. Dr. Sullivan has worked in the field of behavioral neurotoxicology since 1995. She has coordinated field studies in neurotoxicology (i.e., pesticides, methylmercury), neurobehavioral outcomes and the effects of stressors and genetic predisposition to disease on cognitive functioning. She was the Principal Investigator (PI) on a study of cognition and structural MRI in pesticide-exposed Gulf War veterans and most recently is the PI on a multi-site consortium study of the pathobiology of Gulf War Illness.