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The Researcher's Guide to VA Data

VA Information Resource Center


About VIReC

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Who We Are

How Can VIReC Help?

VIReC assists VA researchers in need of information about data resources specific to their research.

The VA Information Resource Center (VIReC) develops resources for and provides guidance to VA researchers using data. Our staff, scientists, and advisors include database and informatics experts, research methodologists, and experts for various database content areas.

The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is a national leader in health research. VIReC is one of three Health Services Research and Development Service (HSR&D) resource centers that supports this effort. We were established in July 1998 to service the VA research community, and are funded by HSR&D Service Grant 98-004.

Contact Information

VIReC provides direct support to VA researchers using VA data and information systems through our HelpDesk.

Researcher HelpDesk
Veterans VA Phone Numbers
VA Information Resource Center (VIReC)
Building 18
Hines VA Hospital (151V)
5000 S. 5th Avenue
Hines, IL 60141-3030
708-202-2415 (fax)
Please note that due to COVID teleworking, access to the VIReC office lines are limited.
Email is encouraged for the fastest response.

What We Do


To advance VA capacity to use data effectively for research and quality improvement and to foster communication between research data users and the VA healthcare community.

  • Advancing Data Knowledge & Methods – We conduct research and collaborate with experts in the field to create a knowledge base of factual and evaluative information about VA data and information systems.

  • Disseminating Data Knowledge – We disseminate information that enables researchers to maximize the power of VA data and information systems and facilitate knowledge sharing among the data user community.

  • Enhancing Data Access & Capacity – We collaborate with VA data stewards and program offices to enhance data availability and to address issues affecting research that uses data and information systems.

VIReC Products & Services

VIReC is a key source of data knowledge and guidance regarding VA data and information systems. VIReC disseminates products and services on our Intranet and Internet websites, including data documentation and user guides, cyberseminars and tutorials, HelpDesk services, and access to our virtual knowledge-sharing forum.

  • Data Knowledge Products – a knowledge base of factual and evaluative information for VA researchers who are using VA data and information systems.

  • Education – cyberseminars, presentations, and tutorials to help VA researchers with accessing and using VA data.

  • Data News – current news and updates regarding health data, databases, and medical informatics.

  • Publications – peer reviewed articles, papers, and journal supplements published by VIReC staff.

  • Support – individualized responses to requests from VA researchers about databases and information systems used for VA research.

VIReC's Websites

Did You Know?

VIReC maintains Internet and Intranet websites. Some resources are only available on our Intranet sites to researchers with VA network access.

VIReC maintains Internet and Intranet websites. This is VIReC's Internet site. The purpose of this site is to provide general information about VIReC activities. It is recommended that researchers use VA Intranet sites whenever possible. These sites contain additional information only available to VA staff.

VIReC's Intranet site provides resources and guidance for VA researchers using data and information systems. VIReC also collaborates on the VHA Data Portal, a gateway to information about VHA data. Researchers with VA network access can visit these sites by copying and pasting the following URLs into the browser.

  • VIReC Intranet:

  • VHA Data Portal:

VIReC Team

VIReC’s staff and scientific advisors include database experts, informatics experts, research methodologists, and experts in various VA database content areas.


Maria Souden, PhD, MSI, Acting Director, Research Health Scientist

VIReC Acting Director, previously Associate Director for Communications. Directs Center operations and strategic development; leads collaborative dissemination efforts with other VA offices; conducts research in communication, knowledge sharing, and use of information. PhD and Master’s from the University of Michigan School of Information. Affiliated Faculty with the School of Information Sciences (iSchool at Illinois), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Former postdoctoral research fellow at University College Dublin School of Information and Communication Studies; prior experience in the planning and development of strategic communications for the private sector.

Operations & Customer Service

Chandrea Culbreath, MPH, BSN, Customer Service & Product Development Manager

Meghan Grum, MS, Research Health Scientist

Dolores Ippolito, MPH, Administrative Coordinator

Melissa M. Joyce, MPH, Administrative Officer & Project Manager

Erika Trumble, MPH, Customer Service Specialist

Data Knowledge & Data Quality

Kristin de Groot, MPH, Senior Data Analyst, VA/CMS Technical Director

Angela Jannotta, BA, Data Policy & Access Specialist

Lindsey Jones, MS, Data Translation Specialist

Donghui Kan, MS, Health Information Analyst

Linda Kok, MA, Data Access, Privacy, & Security Liaison

Bonnie Paris, PhD, Data Knowledge Analyst

Mazhgan Rowneki, MPH, MBS, Data Translation Specialist

Joanne M. Stevens, BSN, RN, VA/CMS Project Manager

Amanda Taylor, PhD, Research Health Scientist

Katrine W. Weismantle, MSW, Research Health Scientist

Puling Zhang, MA, Health Information Analyst

Qiuying (Lucy) Zhang, MS, Health Information Analyst

Dissemination, Education, & Web

Mark McCranie, MA, System & Application Specialist

Linda Miller, BS, CAPM, Dissemination Specialist

Jenifer Stelmack, MSW, Web & Dissemination Lead

External Advisors

Denise M. Hynes, PhD, MPH, RN, Scientific Advisor

Margaret Gonsoulin, PhD, MA, Scientific Advisor

HSR&D Center Expert & Stakeholder Forum

Mary K. Goldstein, MD, MS (Chair)

Director of Geriatrics Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC), Program Director, VA Special Fellowship Program in Advanced Geriatrics, Associate Director of Physician Post-Residency Fellowship Program in Health Services Research and Development, Associate Director of Postdoctoral Fellowship in Medical Informatics, VA Palo Alto Health Care System; Director of Program on Primary Care Policy and Practice Advancement, Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research, Stanford University; Professor of Medicine (Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research), in Medical Center Line at VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Stanford University School of Medicine; Professor of Health Research & Policy (by courtesy), Stanford University School of Medicine.

Cynthia A. Brandt, MD, MPH

Staff Physician, Researcher, Deputy Director of the Pain Research Informatics Multimorbidity and Education Center of Innovation (PRIME COIN), Co-Director of the VA Connecticut Medical Informatics Training Program, and Co-Director of the VA Connecticut Women’s Health Research Training Program, Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Connecticut Healthcare System; Professor of Medical Informatics and Co-Director of the Yale Biomedical Informatics Research Training Program, Yale University School of Medicine.

Jessica A. Davila, PhD, MS

Chief, Methodology and Statistics Program, Houston Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety, a VA Health Services Research & Development Field Program, Houston, TX; Associate Professor of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine.

Joseph Francis, MD, MPH

Deputy Chief Improvement and Analytics Officer, Office of Reporting, Analytics, Performance Improvement and Deployment (RAPID), Veterans Health Administration, Washington, D.C.

Michael E. Matheny, MD, MS, MPH

Associate Director, VA Informatics and Computing Infrastructure (VINCI); Research Health Scientist and Physician, Geriatrics, Research, and Clinical Care (GRECC), VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, Nashville, TN; Associate Director, VA TVHS Informatics Fellowship, Nashville, TN; Assistant Professor of Biostatistics, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Assistant Professor of Medicine, and Director of the Center for Population Health Informatics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

Amy R. Rosen, PhD, MS

Director, VA Patient Safety Center of Inquiry (PSCI) on Measurement to Advance Patient Safety; Research Health Scientist, Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research (CHOIR); VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA; Professor of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA.

Todd H. Wagner, PhD

Director, VA Health Economics Resource Center (HERC); Associate Director, Center for Innovation to Implementation (Ci2i), VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA; Consulting Professor, Department of Health Research and Policy, Stanford University; Fellow, Center for Health Policy and the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research.

Mary Whooley, MD, FACP, FAHA, FACC

Primary Care Physician and Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation, San Francisco VA Health Care System, San Francisco, CA; Director of National VA Measurement Science QUERI, VA Quality Enhancement Research Initiative; Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA.

Technical Advisory Committee

Laurel A. Copeland, PhD

Associate Director, Center for Applied Health Research, and Co-Director of Health Outcomes Core Central Texas Veterans Health Care System / Scott & White.

Francesca Cunningham, PharmD

Director, Center for Medication Safety Patient Safety Center of Inquiry (PSCI) and Program Manager, Outcomes Research, Pharmacy Benefits Management Services, Department of Veterans Affairs, Hines, IL.

Nancy Johnson, MSA, RN, BSN

Lead Clinical Analyst, DSS Database Development, VHA DSS Decision Support Office, Bedford, MA.

Laureen Kennedy

Management and Program Analyst, VHA OHI HDI Data Quality, Business Product Management-Analysis & Profiling.

Todd H. Wagner, PhD

Director, VA Health Economics Resource Center (HERC); Associate Director, Center for Innovation to Implementation (Ci2i), VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA; Consulting Professor, Department of Health Research and Policy, Stanford University; Fellow, Center for Health Policy and the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research.