In his career, Dr. Joel Kupersmith has been a cardiologist, clinician, scientist, medical school dean, CEO of a practice plan and, until May, 2013 leader of the extensive and far-ranging VA medical research program (

Dr. Kupersmith is now Director, Georgetown University Veterans Initiatives and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine and. He has lectured widely and has over 170 publications, including three books, most recently publishing on health policy, veterans and research issues including genomics, comparative effectiveness research, privacy, regulatory and health systems matters.

Dr. Kupersmith is a graduate of New York Medical College and completed a cardiology fellowship at Beth Israel Medical Center/Harvard Medical School. He was a professor and director of clinical pharmacology at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and subsequently a chief of cardiology at U. of Louisville, where he won an Affirmative Action Award, and Chair of Medicine at Michigan State. He was then appointed dean of Texas Tech University’s School of Medicine and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, VP for Clinical Affairs and CEO of the faculty practice plan. Dr. Kupersmith was subsequently a scholar-in-residence at both the Institute of Medicine and the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Under Dr. Kupersmith’s transformational leadership as VA’s Chief Research and Development Officer, his accomplishments, which had influence well beyond the VA, included initiation of the unique Million Veteran Program genomics mega-database; pioneering research projects; a Central Institutional Review Board; development of new clinical and health service research methods; long needed improvements in VA’s research infrastructure; unique, first time collaborative efforts with the Department of Defense, NIH and others; and a component winning a 2010 Presidential Baldrige Award. Dr. Kupersmith is a member of many professional societies including the American Society for Clinical Investigation. His membership on national committees and federal councils has included the Medco P and T Committee, Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research, the NIH’s Council of the National Center for Advancement of Translational Science, and the Council of Science of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Recent Posts by Joel Kupersmith

Gulf War Illness 25 Years After Desert Storm

In the 25 years since Desert Storm, about 250,000 of the almost 700,000 involved in the Gulf War 1 theater have suffered from some version of Gulf War Illness. Care for these veterans was bedeviled by a lack of understanding of the nature and causes of the illness, and more generally, of the...

A New Role For The Veterans Health Administration

The VA, with forward-thinking leadership, responded to a 2015 law with an ambitious plan to alter its approach to care. Congress opened the door to a marked expansion of VA-paid care in the community with its “Choice” program and a $10 billion appropriation.

March 18, 2016Insurance and Coverage, Medicare

The VA Post-Scandal: New Law And New Leadership

Editor's note: For more on this topic, see the Health Affairs Blog posts from Theodore Stefos and James Burgess and Jonathan Bush.  In the wake of the recent scandals in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), new leadership was installed with former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald...

Thoughts On The VA Scandal And The Future

For eight years, until May 2013, I directed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical research program from its Central Office and became familiar with the operations of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). It was my only VA job and I felt honored to be part of the VA’s vital...

Applying Comparative Effectiveness Research To Individuals: Problems And Approaches

A Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) study shows that surgery is better than medical treatment for a particular cardiac condition. My patient is 78 years old and has complicated diabetes. – does the study apply? Another patient 48 years old and otherwise healthy. Does it apply...

October 29, 2013Health IT, Population Health, Quality

The Privacy Conundrum And Genomic Research: Re-Identification And Other Concerns

No matter what the arena -- finance, health care, or national security -- questions surrounding the provision of personal data are always the same: how much benefit vs. how much risk? Who handles these data, and can those individuals be trusted? How do organizations guard against data...

September 11, 2013Public Health

Seven Ways For Health Services Research To Lead Health System Change

With ACA implementation now at hand -- and with it, the formation of accountable care organizations (ACOs) -- health services research (HSR) has an especially important role to play. As ACOs take steps that will substantially change health care delivery, the ability to measure and improve...

May 30, 2013Costs and Spending, Quality

Reforming the Research Regulatory System

There is a growing consensus that the regulatory system for research is in need of reform. Established 21 years ago by the Common Rule, it has functioned via a rigorous environment to assure that risk in research is dealt with and transparency maintained. The trigger for these regulations is...

April 24, 2013Hospitals, Quality

New Approaches To Learning In The Learning Healthcare System

A goal of Twenty-First Century Healthcare is to establish and enhance the Learning Healthcare System (LHS). As discussed in numerous forums, journals, and social media, the LHS is viewed as critical to improving healthcare. Fundamentally, the LHS converts data about care and operations into...

January 14, 2013Health IT, Health Professionals, Hospitals

The Million Veteran Program: Building VA’s Mega-Database for Genomic Medicine

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Watson and Crick (and Wilkins) being named Nobel Prize recipients for discovering DNA, the genetic code. In the half century since, there has been an exponential growth of knowledge and accomplishment based on their findings. More recently, a...

November 19, 2012Health IT