The Passing of Former HSR&D Director John G. Demakis, MD
August 12, 2021
John G. Demakis, MD
John G. Demakis, MD, passed away surrounded by family on August 8, 2021. He had served with the VA healthcare system for 32 years, mainly at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in Chicago, IL, and led VA’s Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) service from 1998 to 2004, when he retired.
Under Dr. Demakis, HSR&D saw tremendous growth. He established the Research Enhancement Award Programs (REAPs) and, along with former Under Secretary for Health, Kenneth Kizer, MD, MPH, and former Director of VA’s Office of Research & Development (ORD), John Feussner, MD, created QUERI in 1998 to advance the transition of evidence into practice – a novel notion at the time they authored “The Quality Enhancement Research Initiative: From Evidence to Action.” QUERI originally focused on 10 conditions that were highly prevalent among Veterans, including Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) QUERI, which helped double the rate of influenza vaccination rates among Veterans with SCI. QUERI now includes 200+ experts in implementing and evaluating effective practices that address a myriad of issues important to Veterans, including COVID-19, virtual care, personalized care, access, and health equality.
When attending his last HSR&D national meeting as Director in the spring of 2004, where he received the VA Exemplary Service Award, Dr. Demakis remarked that there were only 30 attendees at his first national meeting in 1982—more than 530 health services researchers attended our last in-person HSR&D/QUERI national meeting. HSR&D has come a long way over the years, and Dr. Demakis was a very important part of that growth. He will be missed by all of those who were fortunate enough to have known him.