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Board of Directors


Board Chair, ACOS for Research & Development

Michael Ryan, PhD ACOS

Dr. Michael Ryan is the Associate Chief of Staff for Research at the Columbia VA Health Care System, and a Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuroscience at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia, SC. He received his bachelors degree in biological sciences from Cortland College in 1994 and his Ph.D in Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Buffalo in 1999. Ryan has been the principal investigator for several funded research projects focused on hypertension in autoimmune diseases. In 2019, he was elected and currently serves as Chair for the Sex and Gender Research Interest Group of the American Physiological Society.

Jackson Slappy_0.jpg

Chief of Staff

Jackson Slappy COS, MD, MSc, FACS

Dr. Slappy graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1988 with a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering followed by a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1990. He received his MD from Emory University School of Medicine in 2000. While in medical school he was accepted into the Health Professions Scholarship Program with the US Navy. Dr. Slappy was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as Officer-in-Charge of a Shipboard Surgical Team and served on board the USS Momsen and USNS Stockham with Marine and Navy Special Forces. He started his VA career at the Atlanta VA Healthcare System in 2013 and held the positions of Chief of General Surgery, Acting Chief of Surgery, Acting Deputy Chief of Staff, and Acting Chief of Staff. He is looking forward to serving our Veterans and is excited to join the team at the Columbia VA Health Care System. We are excited for him to join DRIs Board of Directors.


Chief of Nephrology

Jennifer Othersen, MD

Dr. Jennifer Othersen is the current Chief of Nephrology at the Columbia VA Health Care System (CVAHCS) in Columbia, SC. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Francis Marion University followed by a second BS in Chemistry at the University of South Carolina. She holds an MD from the Medical University of South Carolina where she also received her training in Internal Medicine and Nephrology. She is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Nephrology. She also serves as an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of South Carolina and holds an appointment at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Othersen is also very active in clinical research and has been a Principal Investigator on several research studies focused on nephrology conducted at the CVAHCS. Dr. Othersen has became a DRI Board member in 2016.


Board Member

John Grantland

John M. Grantland, a founding partner of Murphy and Grantland, P.A., is a member of the Richland County Bar, South Carolina Bar, the Defense Trial Attorneys’ Association and the Defense Research Institute. Mr. Grantland graduated from The Citadel with a Batchelor of Arts in English, magna cum laude and the University of South Carolina School of Law, cum laude.  Upon graduation from the Citadel,  Mr. Grantland received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Judge Advocate and Defense Counsel from 1988 to 1995.  In 1995, Captain Grantland was awarded the Navy-Marine Corps Commendation medal in recognition of his accomplishments. In 2016, Grantland was awarded the Matthew J. Perry, Jr. Civility Award from the Richland County Bar Association.  The award is given annually in recognition of exemplary civility in the practice of law. He is also the recipient of the 2017 Worthy Adversary Award by the South Carolina Association for Justice. The award honors “a defense attorney who displays exemplary professionalism, honesty and ethical behavior.” John Grantland joined DRI’s Board of Directors in Fall 2021.


Medical Center Director

David Omura, DPT, MHA, MS

David L. Omura was appointed Director/CEO for the Columbia VA Healthcare System on March 19, 2017. Prior to this role, he served as the as the associate director/COO since 2012. Dr. Omura is a New York native, earning his Master of Science degree in Physical Therapy from Boston University, his Master in Health Care Administration from the University of Florida, and his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Mass General Hospital Institute of Health Professions. Dr. Omura is a graduate of the VHA Health Care Leadership Development Program and the Federal Executive Institute. He serves as an Adjunct Faculty at the University of South Carolina, and is actively engaged in community partnerships.


ACOS for Education

James McCallum, MD

Dr. Brown J. McCallum is the Associate Chief of Staff (ACOS) for Education Service at the Columbia VA Health Care System (CVAHCS) in Columbia, SC. Dr. McCallum has been employed at the CVAHCS for over a decade. He served the CVAHCS as an Academic Hospitalist, internal Medicine Residency Site Director, Associate Chief of Medicine, Interim Chief of Medicine, and interim Deputy Chief of Staff. Dr. McCallum graduated from Davidson College and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. He completed his residency in Internal medicine at Palmetto Health Richland/University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Dr. McCallum is the recipient of multiple awards for resident and medical student teaching. He received the university of South Carolina School of Medicine Distinguished Young Physician Alumni Award in 2009 and was warded the Dean’s Distinguished Service award from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in 2013. Dr. McCallum has served as a statutory board member since his appointment to ACOS of Education in 2015 after first becoming a member in 2010.


UofSC College of Social Work

Nikki Wooten, PhD, LCSW-C

Dr. Nikki Wooten is an associate professor in the College of Social Work, where she teaches military social work and psychopathology graduate courses. She also conducts behavioral health services research on military and veteran populations. Wooten received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore in 2009 and is principal investigator of Behavioral Health Care in Army Warrior Transition Units (the Army Warrior Care Project). Wooten has over 45 publications on military, veterans, and vulnerable populations, developed four military social work courses, and conducted over 85 invited and peer-reviewed presentations, nationally and internationally. She has served on the DRI board of directors since 2013. Wooten has over 31 years of military service and is a lieutenant colonel in the U. S. Army Reserves.

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