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National Intrepid Center of Excellence
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The Interdisciplinary Model
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The NICoE leadership and staff are comprised of experts from across military medicine and academia, as well as clinical researchers with experience translating research into practice.
Sara M. Kass, M.D.
NICoE Special Assistant to the Commander
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
CAPT Sara Kass is currently serving as Special Assistant to the Commander, National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland. Prior to this position she was the Deputy Chief, Wounded, Ill and Injured, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), Washington, DC. Before reporting to BUMED she served as Faculty in the Department of Family Medicine and Director, University Family Health Center, Uniformed Services University.
CAPT Kass earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Pacific Lutheran University in 1987. She attended Medical School at George Washington University and earned her Doctor of Medicine degree in 1992. Following medical school CAPT Kass received her training in Family Medicine at the Puget Sound Family Medicine Residency, serving as Chief Resident from 1994-1995.
CAPT Kass reported to Naval Air Facility Adak and served as Senior Medical Officer from 1995-1996. She reported to Submarine Base Bangor, Silverdale, Washington in 1996 to serve as Staff Family Physician. She assumed the duty of Senior Medical Officer of the Family Medicine Clinic at Submarine Base Bangor in 1997 and also served as Faculty at the Puget Sound Family Medicine Residency, Medical Student Liaison, and Senior Undersea Medicine Independent Duty Corpsman Supervisor. In August of 1997 CAPT Kass reported to Naval Hospital Naples as staff in the Family Medicine Department until August of 2000. During this time CAPT Kass served as Clinic Manager for the Family Medicine Department and Senior Medical Officer of Branch Clinic Capodichino. In 2000 CAPT Kass was selected to assist in the establishment of the fifth and newest Navy Family Medicine Residency at Camp Lejeune. This residency was accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in 2002.
CAPT Kass is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and of the Uniformed Services Academy of Family Physicians. She is a past recipient of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Resident Teacher Award.
James P. Kelly, M.D., FAAN
Dr. James P. Kelly, a neurologist who is one of America’s top experts on treating concussions, serves as the director of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE).
While serving as the NICoE’s Director, Kelly is on a leave of absence from his position as professor of neurosurgery and physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine. His past positions include assistant dean for graduate medical education at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine, and the neurology residency program director at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
He has also served as director of the Brain Injury Program at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, was the neurologist for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League and is consulted frequently by professional, elite amateur and youth athletes who have sustained concussions.
Kelly co-authored the sports concussion guidelines of the American Academy of Neurology and the Standardized Assessment of Concussion that is widely used in athletic and military settings. In addition, he is a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology and an examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology; immediate past-president of the Colorado Society of Clinical Neurologists; and a consulting neurologist to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. He was the first chairman of the Defense Health Board’s Traumatic Brain Injury External Advisory Subcommittee for Military Clinical Care, Research and Education.
After attaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from Western Michigan University, Kelly graduated from medical school at Northwestern University and completed his neurology residency and behavioral neurology fellowship at the University of Colorado.
Thomas J. DeGraba, M.D.
Deputy Director, Chief of Medical Operations
Dr. Thomas J. DeGraba is the Deputy Director and Chief of Medical Operations at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE).
Dr. DeGraba has worked as a leader in the field of neurology, with a focus in traumatic brain injury and stroke, for greater than twenty years. Before working with the NICoE, he served as the Head of the Clinical Stroke Program at the former National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) and was a Staff Neurologist at the former NNMC. He also served as Senior Staff Fellow and head of the Clinical Stroke Research Unit in the Stroke Branch in the National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
While at the NIH, he established the first Intramural Clinical Stroke Program, directing research in the field of pathophysiological mechanisms of cerebrovascular disease related to inflammation and immune-genetic susceptibility. During his time at the Department of the Navy and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), he directed the Stroke Program of the Comprehensive Neuroscience Program and coordinated a collaborative clinical research team with members from DoD, NIH and private academic hospitals. He also directed the Cerebrovascular Laboratory which provided an essential resource of Transcranial Doppler to the brain injury team caring for the severe head injured patients returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He earned his bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from the Catholic University of America, his M.D. from Georgetown University, completed his medical internship at the Washington Hospital Center, Neurology Residency at Georgetown University Hospital, and pursued a post-doctoral fellowship in Cerebrovascular Disease at the University of Texas Medical Center in Houston.
As the Deputy Director of the NICoE, Dr. DeGraba helped to co-author the Concept of Operations for the center, which is designed to be a leader in delivery of patient and family centric care to warriors with complex unremitting combat-related TBI and psychological health issues and advance standard of care through engaging in world class research. He is currently developing an Interdisciplinary program with state of the art evaluation techniques and treatment planning in a holistic environment designed for maximal provider patient interaction and long term follow-up and training. He is also engaged in establishing a research portfolio to direct pilot studies and innovative diagnostic testing and treatment in TBI and PH.
Walter Greenhalgh, M.D.
Chief of Clinical Operations
Captain Walt Greenhalgh is currently serving as Department Chief of Clinical Operations, National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland. Prior to this position he worked for the Navy Medical Corps Chief as the Plans and Policy Officer, including a stint as acting Deputy Medical Corps Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), Washington, DC.
Captain Greenhalgh earned a Bachelor of Science Degree (with distinction) in Microbiology and Immunology from McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1988, and then attended Medical School on a Navy Health Professions Scholarship at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, earning his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1992. Completing his internship in General Surgery at National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, CAPT Greenhalgh then received Flight Surgery Training in Pensacola, Florida, followed by orders as a Naval Flight Surgeon to the Naval Health Clinic, Quantico, Virginia. After his flight surgeon tour, CAPT Greenhalgh completed training in Family Medicine at the Puget Sound Family Medicine Residency, Naval Hospital Bremerton, Washington, serving as Chief Resident from 1997-1998.
Family Medicine staff tours included Naval Hospital Naples-Branch Medical Clinic Gaeta, Italy, where he assumed the role of Senior Medical Officer, followed by a tour as staff Family Physician at Naval Health Clinic Quantico, where he was the Director of Primary Care and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Medical Staff (ECOMS). He then completed a tour as the first Navy Family Physician and Flight Surgeon at the US Air Force Flight Medicine Clinic, the Pentagon, before going back overseas to Naval Hospital Rota, Spain, serving as both Family Physician and Flight Surgeon, and also assuming the position of ECOMS Chair and Director of Medical Services.
After his Naval Hospital Rota tour, CAPT Greenhalgh was selected to attend the College of Naval Warfare, Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, where he received a Masters of Arts Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. During his follow-on tour at BUMED, CAPT Greenhalgh deployed to Djibouti ,Africa, where he served as the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Force Surgeon.
Captain Greenhalgh is Board Certified in Family Medicine and is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and of the Uniformed Services Academy of Family Physicians. His awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal (times two), the Meritorious Service Medal (times three), Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (times two), and various unit and qualification ribbons. He is married to Heidi (Germer) Greenhalgh, and they have three children, Mark, Andrew, and Abigail.
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