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Newsletter | South Central MIRECC

Fall 2018, Volume 20, Issue 5 - In this Issue

New Orleans Site Update
Meet the New Fellows
2018 MI Training Evaluation Results

Research to Practice: Using Implementation Science to Enhance Health Disparity Research
FY2019 Education Needs Survey Announcement
Recent Publications
Pilot Study Research Program Applications Due January 2
Implementation, Design and Analysis Support Available for Affiliates

New Orleans Site Update

Dr. Laurel Franklin
Dr. Laurel Franklin

By Laurel Franklin, PhD, New Orleans Site Leader

Editor’s note: SC MIRECC is a virtual center serving VISNs 16 and 17 with anchor sites in Houston Texas, Little Rock, Arkansas, and New Orleans, Louisiana. This month we learn about the work taking place in New Orleans.

Fresh Places and Faces

There has been a lot of growth at the New Orleans site. Our medical center, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System (SLVHCS), repurposed the beautiful and historic Dixie Brewery as our new research building, which opened in August. Although the structure was designed mainly for biomedical research, a top priority of SLVHCS is to support the medical center’s growing clinical science research and development department.

Architectural rendering of the renovated Brewery Building for research
Architectural rendering of the renovated Brewery Building for research.

We recently welcomed Paul Kirwin, MD as our Chief of Psychiatry. Dr. Kirwin is an experienced psychiatrist who comes to us from Yale University School of Medicine. In addition to his role at SLVHCS, he is serving as the Robert G. Health Professor of Neuroscience and Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Tulane University School of Medicine. Dr. Kirwin has a history of grant funded research, with interests in geriatric psychiatry and medicine, particularly late life depression.

We also welcomed Ashley Corte as our new SC MIRECC program site assistant. Ashley has 15 years of service as a SeaBee in the US Navy Reserves. Further, she brings 11 years of VA experience to the position. Currently, Ashley is pursuing a master’s degree in Communications from Purdue University. We have enjoyed having Ashley on our team and look forward to our continued work together.

Growing Research

Amanda Raines, PhD, a core SC MIRECC investigator, is an important part of research growth at our site. In addition to her two South Central MIRECC pilot grants, she recently submitted a VA Career Development Award (CDA-2) application that aims to adapt and extend an existing safety aid reduction protocol for use among Veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD. Further, she and Dr. Joseph Constans, Associate Chief of Staff for Research at SLVHCS, recently submitted a National Institutes of Health grant aimed at testing the acceptability, feasibility, and utility of a technology-based platform for reducing suicidality among Veterans.

Dr. Holly MacKenna, a psychiatrist at SLVHCS, was recently awarded a SC MIRECC Clinical Educator Grant to format and distribute a whole health treatment manual, titled “THRIVE Whole Health Program Facilitator Manual,” in conjunction with a team from the James A. Haley VA in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Raines also was awarded a Clinical Educator Grant to adapt and extend an existing transdiagnostic treatment for use across a wider array of diagnoses and among Veterans.

Research Highlights

Dr. Gala True is the project director of "From War to Home: Through the Veteran's Lens," a traveling exhibit that explores the realities of military service through words and images from Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. True and her research team, including OIF Veteran Ray Facundo, are planning an exhibit of photo-narratives from Veterans and family-caregivers this fall to highlight experiences of living with a traumatic brain injury.  The exhibit will open in December 2018 at SLVHCS. Additionally, Drs. True and Lilian Dindo, the SC MIRECC Houston Site Leader, are co-PIs on a research project funded by the VA Office of Rural Health, to pilot an intervention for distressed Veterans who are not otherwise engaged in mental health care, to be delivered in community settings with community partners.

Gala True's War to Home Exhibit and Team
Left and top right: Pictures from the From War to Home exhibit that opens on December 13, 2018 at SLVHCS. Bottom right: Dr. Gala True and Ray Facundo (far right) with the From War to Home team.


We are excited to have two 2018 South Central MIRECC Award recipients from New Orleans. Dr. True received the Mentor of the Year award, while Dr. Raines received both the Best Paper by a Junior Investigator and the New Collaborator awards.

Drs. Amanda Raines and Gala True
Left: Dr. Raines with her 2018 SC MIRECC Awards for New Collaborator and Best Paper by a Junior Investigator. Right: Dr. True with her 2018 SC MIRECC Award for Mentor of the Year.

Future Goals

Growing our clinical research program, so that we have several potential investigators working toward research funding, is a priority. With the opening of the research building, we will cultivate our community, so that SLVHCS researchers, across disciplines, get to know and support one another. We thank South Central MIRECC leadership for supporting Dr. Raines and all our SC MIRECC investigators as we continue to rebuild our facility and research program. To learn more about SC MIRECC research in New Orleans, email  

Last updated: December 15, 2020