Dr. Aram Dobalian is the founding Director of the Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center (VEMEC), the only national center within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) devoted to the study of cutting-edge operations and policy questions that support VA’s public health preparedness and response responsibilities – to ensure timely access to high-quality care for veterans during disasters, and to support non-VA emergency management and homeland security efforts. As VEMEC's Director, he oversees all of its activities, including its applied research and evaluation projects. VEMEC is based at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.
Since 2003, his research has focused on public health preparedness and response, including the development of performance metrics, community resilience, crisis leadership, facility evacuation and sheltering, workforce readiness and training, and behavioral health. In 2008, he obtained support from senior VA leaders to develop a strategic plan that would position the VA as a national leader in disaster research by having VA serve as a “laboratory” for developing evidence-based emergency management practices that would benefit both VA and the Nation.
He also led the National Program Evaluation of the VA Nursing Academy (VANA), a 5‐year, $60 million program consisting of partnerships between 18 VA facilities and 16 nursing schools. The purpose of VANA, now expanded and renamed the VA Nursing Academic Partnerships (VANAP) program, was to: (1) expand faculty and professional development; (2) increase nursing student enrollment; (3) provide opportunities for educational and practice innovations; and (4) increase recruitment and retention of VA nurses as a result of enhanced roles in nursing education. This project was also supported by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the national “Conference on Enhancing Nursing Undergraduate Teaching and Learning in the Clinical Setting: What do we know and how do we move forward?”
As of 2016, he has served as PI or co-PI on grants currently totaling more than $17 million. He was the guest editor for a special issue of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness that commemorated the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. 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 currently teaches courses on health systems and health policy at UCLA, where he is an Adjunct Professor of Health Policy and Management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and at the UCLA School of Nursing. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine's Standing Committee on Medical and Public Health Research During Large-Scale Emergency Events.