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The Board of Directors consists of research leaders within the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Hospital and community members who share complementary expertise.


Susan A. MacKenzie, Ph.D

Susan A. MacKenzie, Ph.D

Acting Hospital Director, Bedford VA

Susan A. MacKenzie, Ph.D., was appointed Acting Director of the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, July 2017. She also serves as Director of the Providence Veteran Affairs Medical Center.

Prior to these appointments, Dr. MacKenzie served as the Deputy Medical Center Director of the Boston Healthcare System and the Deputy Network Director of the VA New England Healthcare System.

During 2012-2013, she served as the Acting Director of VA Maine Healthcare System and the Manchester VA Medical Center. During her 30-year VA career, Dr. MacKenzie has also held a number of administrative appointments in VA Boston Healthcare System, including Staff Assistant to the Medical Center Director, Assistant Chief of Medical Administrative Service, and Quality Management Coordinator for Accreditation.

Dr. MacKenzie is a graduate of the 1999 Leadership VA program. She is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and a member of Women in Healthcare Management. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Health Science, a Master’s of Public Administration and a Doctorate in Health Policy, all from Northeastern University.



Dan Berlowitz, MD, MPH

Dan Berlowitz, MD, MPH

Chief of Staff

A recent article from "Berlowitz Honored for Work Transforming Chronic Care Delivery"

Dan Berlowitz, MD, MPH is Chief of Staff at the Bedford VA Hospital and Professor of Public Health and Medicine at Boston University. He has a clinical background in geriatrics and his research interests center on assessing and improving the quality of healthcare with a particular emphasis on ambulatory and long-term care settings. He has done leading research on diverse medical conditions including hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy, and pressure ulcers. During his 25+ years at the Bedford VA, he has also played a leading role in the development of its health services research program and in mentoring numerous junior investigators. Dr. Berlowitz is the 2015 recipient of the VA Under Secretary’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research.

Recent samples of his over 200 research publications include:

  • Avetisyan R, Cabral H, Montouris G, Jarrett K, Shapiro GD, Berlowitz DR, Kase CS, Kazis LE. Evaluating racial/ethnic variations in outpatient epilepsy care. Epilepsy & Behavior 2013; 27: 95-101.
  • Berlowitz DR. Hypertension treatment and falls: Should we be concerned? (Editorial). J Gen Intern Med 2014; 29; 1577-1578.
  • Ding YY, Kader B, Christiansen CL, Berlowitz DR. Hemoglobin level and hospital mortality among intensive care unit patients with cardiac disease who received transfusions. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2015; 66:2510-2518.
  • Jasuja GK, Bhasin S, Reisman JI, Berlowitz DR, Rose AJ. Ascertainment of testosterone prescribing practices in the VA. Medical Care 2015; 53:746-752.
  • Hartmann CW, Shwartz M, Zhao S, Palmer JA, Berlowitz D. Longitudinal pressure ulcer rates since the adoption of culture change in Veterans Health Administration nursing homes. J Am Geriatr Soc 2016; 64: 151-155.



Sean Bielat

Sean Bielat

Chief Executive Officer of Endeavor Robotics

With more than 6,000 robots fielded to date, Endeavor Robotics is the global leader in ground robots, providing systems to the U.S. Department of Defense, first responders, allied militaries, and the nuclear industry. Endeavor systems are widely used for Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (CIED) and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) mission areas and, as such, Endeavor Robotics is closely aligned with the mission of keeping warfighters out of harm’s way. Sean is a veteran, having served as a U.S. Marine Corps officer on active duty from 1998-2002 and in the Reserve from 2002 – present. He is currently a Major in the Individual Ready Reserve.

Previously, Sean served as CEO of One Click Politics, an online start-up focused on social networking and political advocacy. Sean was a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and 2012. His previous roles include independent strategy consultant, Program Manager and Director of Business Development at iRobot Corporation, and Associate at McKinsey & Company. He holds a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown University.



Charles E. Drebing, Ph.D.

Charles E. Drebing, PhD

Mental Health Service Line Manager

Charles E. Drebing, Ph.D. is the Mental Health Service Line Manager at the Bedford VA, a research psychologist at New England MIRECC, and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine.  Dr. Drebing has been conducting health services research for 25 years.  His research and administrative work has focused on finding new ways to help Veterans with mental health disorders, recover full lives in the community, including successfully returning to work and school, and rebuilding healthy relationships with family and friends



David Smelson, Psy.D.

David Smelson, Psy.D., Board Chairman

Acting Chief of Staff for Research

David Smelson, PsyD is a CHOIR core investigator, Director of Translational Mental Health Research at the Bedford VA Medical Center and also serves on the Recovery Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder QUERI programs. In addition, Dr. Smelson is the Director of the Bedford satellite of the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans. He is Professor and Vice Chair for Clinical Research in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Smelson has extensive clinical and research experience working with homeless Veterans suffering from co-occurring mental health and substance use problems. In early 2011, he published a co-occurring disorders treatment approach designed for Veterans who are homeless, or at-risk for homelessness, which is currently being implemented more broadly throughout the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Smelson’s research has received funding from VA Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D), the National Institutes of Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Selected Publications: Smelson DA, Kline A, Kuhn J, Rodrigues S, O'Connor K, Fisher W, Sawh L, Kane V. A wraparound treatment engagement intervention for homeless veterans with co-occurring disorders. Psychol Serv. 2013 May;10(2):161-7. Smelson D, Yu L, Buyske S, Gonzalez G, Tischfield J, Deutsch CK, Ziedonis D. Genetic association of GABA-A receptor alpha-2 and mu opioid receptor with cocaine cue-reactivity: evidence for inhibitory synaptic neurotransmission involvement in cocaine dependence. Am J Addict. 2012 Sep-Oct;21(5):411-5. Boyer EW, Fletcher R, Fay RJ, Smelson D, Ziedonis D, Picard RW. Preliminary efforts directed toward the detection of craving of illicit substances: the iHeal project. J Med Toxicol. 2012 Mar;8(1):5-9. Ellison ML, Mueller L, Smelson D, Corrigan PW, Torres Stone RA, Bokhour BG, Najavits LM, Vessella JM, Drebing C. Supporting the education goals of post-9/11 veterans with self-reported PTSD symptoms: a needs assessment. Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2012 Winter;35(3):209-17. Smelson D, Kalman D, Losonczy MF, Kline A, Sambamoorthi U, Hill LS, Castles-Fonseca K, Ziedonis D. A Brief Treatment Engagement Intervention for Individuals with Co-occurring Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial. Community Ment Health J. 2010 Sep 22.



Ray Wrobel

Ray Wrobel

Mr. Ray Wrobel is the Vice President of Business Development at the Merrimack Valley-based Align Credit Union. With over 30 years of experience in the financial industry, Mr. Wrobel was named one of Banker and Tradesman’s 2013 Credit Union Heroes, an award which recognizes local credit union professionals who go above and beyond to better their institution and community.

A Merrimack College alum with degrees in sociology and accounting, Wrobel has a strong sense of community and civic responsibility which has resulted in his involvement with many community-based organizations. As Chairman of the City of Methuen’s Board of Health, he works to enhance the overall well-being of area residents and as Chairman of the Greater Lowell Workforce Investment’s Board, he helps promote workforce development initiatives in the interest of employers and job seekers, even partnering with the GLWIB on a proposal designed to assist homeless individuals acquire basic job skills and occupational training with the end goal of self-sufficiency.

Additionally, Mr. Wrobel is a member of the Merrimack Valley Small Business Assistance Corporation, an Executive Committee Member of the Mass Association of Workforce Board, a Board Member of the Nevins Family of Services as well as the Mass Workforce Development Board and a of Trustee of the Methuen Memorial Music Hall. Ray is focused on supporting business and economic development and devotes much of his time and energy to initiatives which help local community resident reach their professional and educational goals.