Vascular Cures benefits from the expertise of its world-class advisors in healthcare and research to design and implement its high impact programs.

Our Advisory Board

Our Advisory Board is a multi-stakeholder team of patients and leaders who collaborate on driving solutions to unmet needs and advance our organizational impact. The board provides guidance to help Vascular Cures extend its mission to prioritize the patient in vascular innovation.

David G. Armstrong, PhD, DPM

Professor of Surgery and Director, Southwestern Academic Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA), Keck School of Medicine of USC

Dr. Armstrong is Professor of Surgery at the University of Southern California. Dr. Armstrong holds a Masters of Science in Tissue Repair and Wound Healing from the University of Wales College of Medicine and a PhD from the University of Manchester College of Medicine, where he was appointed Visiting Professor of Medicine. He is the founder and co-director of the Southwestern Academic Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA).

Dr. Armstrong has produced more than 510 peer-reviewed research papers in dozens of scholarly medical journals as well as over 90 books or book chapters. He is co-Editor of the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Clinical Care of the Diabetic Foot, now in its third edition.

Dr. Armstrong is past Chair of Scientific Sessions for the ADA’s Foot Care Council, and a past member of the National Board of Directors of the American Diabetes Association. He sits on the Infectious Disease Society of America’s (IDSA) Diabetic Foot Infection Advisory Committee and is the US-appointed delegate to the International Working Group on the Diabetic Foot (IWGDF). Dr. Armstrong is the founder and co-chair of the International Diabetic Foot Conference (DF-Con), the largest annual international symposium on the diabetic foot in the world.

Jason Belzer

Divisional VP, Sales & Marketing, US Endovascular, Abbott Vascular

Jason Belzer is the divisional vice president of Endovascular Sales and Marketing for Abbott’s vascular business. He has more than 25 years of medical technology sales and marketing experience at both Fortune 500 companies and startups, where he has honed extensive knowledge in business and industry strategy.

Most recently, Jason served as area vice president Sales, where he was named Vice President of 2018 and led his team in earning several prestigious national awards for their deep commitment to the team motto “patient before company, team before self, win in all things.” Prior to that, Jason served as director of Endovascular Sales for the western area as well as marketing manager for Lower Limb Therapies, where he worked with his team to deliver comprehensive solutions for peripheral interventions.

Jason earned a B.A. in rhetoric and communications from the University of California, Davis, and will complete his master’s program in healthcare economics from Xavier University in May 2020.

michael_conteMichael S. Conte, MD

Professor and Chief, Division of Vascular & Endovascular Surgery, UCSF (Vascular Cures)

Michael S. Conte, MD is the Chief Medical Officer of Vascular Cures, Professor and Chief of the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at UCSF and Co-Director of the UCSF Heart and Vascular Center. Previously, he was the Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Director of Vascular Surgery Research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. He was also Co-Director of the Clinical Trials Group at the Center for Surgery and Public Health, a joint initiative of Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, as well as numerous book chapters and reviews. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Society for Vascular Surgery and has served on the scientific advisory board of several biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies. He served as an Associate Editor for Circulation and is currently on the editorial boards of the Journal of Vascular Surgery, Vascular Medicine, Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, and Vascular.

Matthew Corriere, MD

Frankel Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery, University of Michigan

Dr. Corriere is the Frankel Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery and Associate Professor in the Section of Vascular Surgery at the University of Michigan. He is a graduate of the Mercer University School of Medicine, completed a residency in General Surgery plus two years of dedicated research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and an M.S. in Health Sciences Research followed by a clinical fellowship in Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Wake Forest University. Dr. Corriere’s research focuses on shared treatment decisions for peripheral artery disease, patient preference elicitation and quantification, communication between patients and doctors, and patient-reported outcomes. He also conducts research evaluating clinical outcomes, risk stratification, vascular imaging, and ethics. Dr. Corriere has received research support from the Vascular Cures Foundation, the Society for Vascular Surgery Foundation, the vascular and Endovascular Surgery Society, and the American Heart Association. His affiliations at the University of Michigan include the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy, the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, the Biosocial Methods Collaborative, and the Institute for Health Policy and Innovation.

julie_freischlagJulie A. Freischlag, MD

CEO Wake Forest Baptist Health, Dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine

Julie Freischlag, MD became the CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in 2017. Previously, she was Vice Chancellor for Human Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine at UC Davis. Dr. Freischlag served as Professor and Chair of the Surgery Department at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. She has led innovation initiatives to expand research and specialty clinical services, improve patient-centered care and patient safety, and enhance academic career paths for faculty. She has held many leadership roles, including past chair of the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons and immediate past President of the Society for Vascular Surgery. Dr. Freischlag has published more than 225 manuscripts, abstracts, and book chapters, and has received numerous teaching awards, including an achievement award from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Freischlag has dedicated her career to serving as a role model for her students, a respected colleague across health professionals, a strong community leader, and a national voice for improving health and health care.

Zorina_GalisZorina Galis, Ph.D

Chief, Vascular Biology and Hypertension Branch, NHLBI

Zorina Galis, Ph.D. is the Chief of Vascular Biology and Hypertension at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) /National Institutes of Health (NIH), overseeing a large and diverse extramural portfolio of basic, translational, and clinical research. Previously, she rose through the academic ranks at Harvard Medical School, Emory School of Medicine, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Indiana University, and was also the Chief Scientific Officer, Cardiovascular R&D at Eli Lilly and Co. Zorina is recognized for significant scientific contributions to the area of vascular remodeling and for establishing and leading successful interdisciplinary collaborations within and between academia, industry, and the government. She was trained in physics, biophysics, cell biology, pathology, and vascular medicine at the University of Bucharest, Romania, the McGill School of Medicine, Montreal, Canada, and the Harvard School of Medicine, Boston, MA.

Naomi M. Hamburg, MD

Joseph Vita Professor of Medicine, Boston University

Naomi Hamburg, MD, is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. She is a clinical scientist with a translational research program focused on understanding the development of vascular complications in diabetes and peripheral artery disease. Her laboratory currently has three main areas of research. The first is characterizing insulin signaling resistance in the endothelium of patients with diabetes to develop novel theories to restore vascular function. The second is investigating new approaches to predicting clinical outcomes in patients with peripheral artery disease including biomarkers, microRNA and endogenous inhibitors of angiogenesis. The third is studying vascular function in community-based studies at the Framingham heart study.

Steve Hamburger

Patient Advocate

Steve Hamburger is an accomplished marketing executive who is currently Chief Marketing Officer at Shockproof Training (, providing quality online credit training in the fields of commercial and commercial real estate to the banking industry here in the U.S. He has an MBA in International Marketing from the University of Oregon. Steve also has PAD, Type II diabetes, and heart disease, and has forestalled leg bypass surgery for 10 years by maintaining a systematic walking and self-education program. Steve represents patients in the Vascular Cures Patient-Reported Outcome Measures in PAD (PROM-PAD) Working Group.

Wendy R. Hitchcock

Director, Vascular Cures

Wendy R. Hitchcock was CEO of Vascular Cures from 2009 to early 2019a and has over two decades of executive leadership in life science research and healthcare organizations. Prior to becoming CEO of Vascular Cures, she held CXO roles in both private and public biotech and medical device companies developing innovative products to address critical medical needs. These included Mercator MedSystems, a medical device company focused on treatments for peripheral artery disease (PAD) and critical limb-threatening ischemia (CLTI). Wendy has built significant enterprise value through collaborative partnering, strategic alliances, financing, and mergers and acquisitions. She is on the Patients Count Leadership Council of FasterCures and the Peripheral Vascular Disease Council of the American Heart Association. Wendy knows firsthand the importance of research to treat vascular disease. She was born with an arteriovenous malformation in her brain, which was successfully treated with surgery as an adult. She received her MBA from UCLA and BA from Brown University.

Manesh Patel, MD

Professor of Medicine, Chief, Div. of Clinical Pharmacology & Chief, Div. of Cardiology, Duke University

Dr. Patel is Chief of the Division of Cardiology and director of the Duke Heart Center. The Division of Cardiology has over 85 faculty and 44 cardiology fellows, and the Heart Center has over 1100 staff. His clinical interests include diagnostic and interventional coronary angiography, peripheral angiography, and percutaneous intervention. He is involved in several clinical trials involving patients with vascular disease and in cardiac imaging. He was also a member of the American College of Cardiology Task Force for Appropriate use of Cardiovascular Procedures and is vice-Chair of the American Heart Association Diagnostic and Interventional Cath Committee.

Dr. Patel has published over 400 peer-reviewed articles in high impact journals, several reviews Andover 20 editorials. He has been named in the top 1% of cited researchers over the last 10 years by Clarivate Analytics. Dr. Patel received his medical degree from Emory University School of Medicine in 1997. He completed his residency at Duke in 2000, followed by fellowships in cardiology and interventional cardiology at Duke University and a clinical research fellowship at the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

Peter Schneider, MD

Professor of Surgery, Division of Vascular & Endovascular Surgery, UCSF

Peter A. Schneider, M.D. is Professor of Surgery in the Division of Vascular & Endovascular Surgery at the University of California San Francisco and author of “Endovascular Skills”. Dr. Schneider received his MD from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and completed vascular surgery training at the University of California San Francisco. Dr. Schneider was the founding member and chief of the Division of Vascular Surgery at Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii from 1994-2018. During his tenure at Kaiser, he oversaw the development of the first endovascular operating room in the Kaiser system, developed an aneurysm screening and surveillance program, and a Diabetic Limb Treatment Program. Dr. Schneider is a Distinguished Fellow of the Society for Vascular Surgery, Fellow of the International Society of Vascular Surgery, a past president of Western Vascular Society and VIVA. He has been a visiting professor at numerous universities and has also developed and taught curriculum to advance the field of vascular and endovascular surgery. In addition to “Endovascular Skills”, Dr. Schneider has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and has been awarded numerous patents. Dr. Schneider founded two medical device companies and is CEO of In Road Medical, a medical consulting firm that provides advisory services for companies as well as government and academic institutions.

Anna McVittie Szafranski

VP Marketing, Peripheral Vascular, Medtronic

Anna McVittie Szafranski is the Vice President of Marketing for Medtronic’s Peripheral Vascular Business where she is responsible for global and US downstream marketing, strategic planning and analytics, new product planning, and sales training. She has been with Medtronic for 13 years and spent her first six years building the Atrial Fibrillation Solutions business before moving to Peripheral Vascular.

Anna has engineering degrees from M.I.T and Stanford and an MBA from The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Anna serves on both the Medtronic and Cardio Vascular Group Marketing leadership councils and is currently co-chair of Medtech Women Minnesota. A Californian originally, she now resides in beautiful Minneapolis with her husband Jon, and three active children.

Julie Thomson

Patient Advocate

Julie Thomson is an active mother of three grown children who has been battling PAD since her teenage years. Not a typical PAD patient, her claudication symptoms were ignored by doctors until her mid-forties when she underwent several leg bypass surgeries and was diagnosed with a newly identified rare genetic condition ACDC (Arterial Calcification due to Deficiency in CD73) by the Undiagnosed Diseases Program at the NIH. She hikes or bikes almost every day and is grateful to the doctors at UCSF and NHLBI/NIH.

edith_tzengEdith Tzeng, MD

Professor of Surgery, Chief of Vascular Surgery, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, UPMC

Edith Tzeng, MD is the UPMC Chair and Professor of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and Chief of Vascular Surgery at the VA Medical Center, Pittsburgh. She is focused on the problems of blood vessels healing after injury, bypass, or angioplasty and translational potential of nitric oxide and carbon monoxide for vascular healing. She received her medical degree from the University of Chicago, The Pritzker School Of Medicine and performed her surgery residency and vascular fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2001 she was awarded Vascular Cures’ Wylie Scholar in Academic Vascular Surgery research grant. Dr. Tzeng has a long history in research mentorship and has been the Program Director of the Vascular Surgery Research T32 Training Program at the University of Pittsburgh for the past 15 years.

Omaida C. Velazquez, MD

Professor & Chair, Dept. of Surgery & Vascular Surgery; Surgeon-in-Chief, University of Miami

Omaida Velazquez, MD, is Professor and Chair, DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of medicine; Surgeon-in-Chief, University of Miami Health System and David Kimmelman Endowed Chair in Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, University of Miami. Dr. Velazquez is a nationally and internationally renowned surgeon-scientist, recognized within her field and the broader community of physician-scientists, as seen by her induction into the American Society for Clinical Investigators (ASCI). Her preclinical research centers on stem cells and angiogenesis, wound healing, atherosclerosis, critical limb-threatening ischemia (CLTI) and limb salvage, all related to peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and vascular complications of Diabetes. She has continuous NIH funding for 20 years. Her discoveries yielded several patents with great translational potential and discovered mechanisms for homing and pro-repair functions of stem cells in post-natal revascularization of ischemic tissue. Dr. Velazquez obtained her B.S. from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1987 and obtained an M.D. degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School. She completed her post-graduate training in General and Vascular Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. Throughout her illustrious career to-date, she has remained double-certified by the American Board of Surgery in both General Surgery and Vascular/Endovascular Surgery.

Advisors Emeritus

Gertrude Campbell

Patient Advocate

Gertrude Campbell had diabetes for a number of years and when she began suffering leg pain she was not screened for peripheral artery disease (PAD). Her untreated PAD ultimately resulted in the amputation of her left leg. A few years later, advanced PAD (Critical limb-threatening Ischemia) caused her to lose her right leg. Gertrude realized how little she knew about the disease and now works tirelessly to bring awareness of PAD to both the local and national levels. In September 2019, she testified before Congress about the risks of and the need for policies to reduce preventable amputations and also shared her powerful story with Rep. Donald Payne as part of the effort to raise awareness about the risks of PAD and the need for policies to reduce preventable amputations. Gertrude represents patients in the Vascular Cures Patient-Reported Outcome Measures in PAD (PROM-PAD) Working Group.