Aram Dobalian,
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Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center (VEMEC)

Associate Adjunct Professor, Health Policy and Management
UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Dr. Aram Dobalian is the founding Director of the Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center (VEMEC) in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VEMEC’s work focuses on cutting-edge operations and policy questions that support VA’s emergency management responsibilities – to ensure continuity of care during emergencies and disasters, and to support national, state, and local emergency management, public health, safety, and homeland security efforts. As the Director, he oversees all of the Center’s activities, including its applied research and evaluation projects. These projects are designed to build an evidence-base to improve both VA’s and the Nation’s readiness. Core funding for VEMEC comes from the VA Office of Public Health.

Since 2003, his research has focused on public health preparedness and response, including projects on behavioral health, community health resilience, leadership decision making, healthcare facility evacuation, workforce readiness, critical infrastructure, and the development of performance metrics. In 2008, he set forth a strategic plan to position the VA as a national leader in disaster research by having VA serve as a “laboratory” for developing evidence-based emergency management practices. He brought together researchers, emergency management practitioners, clinicians, and academicians to identify strategic priorities for the first national VA research agenda and propose options for building disaster research capacity within the VA. This work ultimately led to the founding of VEMEC in July 2010.

Dr. Dobalian also served as the PI of the National Program Evaluation of the VA Nursing Academy, a $60-million initiative designed to promote innovations in nursing education and practice through academic-practice partnerships. This project was also supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that included funding for a national conference entitled, “Conference on Enhancing Nursing Undergraduate Teaching and Learning in the Clinical Setting: What do we know and how do we move forward?” This event brought together leading nursing education and practice thought-leaders from across the nation to share best practices and insights regarding academic-practice partnerships, clinical faculty expansion and development, and non-traditional practice settings. Together, these efforts helped support an expansion of the program under a $135-million updated initiative that began in 2014.

He is a member of the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health, the Upsilon Phi Delta National Academic Honor Society in Healthcare Administration, and the State Bar of California. He received his Ph.D. in Health Services Research from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Fielding School of Public Health, and his J.D. from Whittier Law School where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Whittier Law Review. He received his M.P.H. from UCLA, and his B.S. in Physics from Vanderbilt University. He holds academic appointments in the UCLA School of Public Health and the UCLA School of Nursing. He has served as PI or co-PI on grants totaling more than $13 million, has authored more than 60 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and reports, and was the guest editor for a special issue of the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness that commemorated the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He currently teaches Health Systems Organization and Financing (HPM 200A/B) and Ethical Issues in Healthcare Management & Policy (HPM 285) in the EMPH program.