Michael Charness, MD, Receives VA Clinical Care Leadership Award

(l to r) Michael Charness receiving award plaque from Shereef Elnahal,
Dr. Shereef Elnahal, Under Secretary for Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs, right, presents Dr. Michael Charness, with the 2023 Mark Wolcott Award for Excellence in Clinical Care Leadership, during the Veterans Health Administration Governance Board meeting in Washington, D.C. (VA photo by Gene Russell)


Michael Charness, MD, chief medical officer of VA Boston Healthcare System and professor of neurology at the Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School, was presented with the 2023 Mark Wolcott Award for Excellence in Clinical Care Leadership on May 22 during the Veterans Health Administration Governance Board meeting in Washington, D.C.

Established in 1996, the award is presented annually to recognize an outstanding VA practitioner for their lifetime contributions in enhancing clinical care. It is named after Dr. Mark Wolcott, a physician who dedicated more than 40 years of his life to improving the quality of health care for Veterans.

“This award reflects the efforts of many talented healthcare professionals and researchers at VA Boston, and I’m grateful for everything we’ve accomplished together over the past two decades,” said Charness, who also is associate dean for Veterans affairs at BU Chobanian & Avedisian SOM and for Harvard Medical School’s Veterans Hospital Programs at VA Boston. “I want to thank the Wolcott Award review committee for recognizing our team’s hard work and commitment to providing Veterans with the exceptional care and services they have earned.”

Charness has served as chief medical officer at VA Boston HCS since 2003, where he and his team have implemented many initiatives and innovations for improving the care provided to Veterans. During the pandemic, Charness was a leading regional and national voice in crafting original solutions during challenging circumstances.

“I’ve worked closely with Dr. Charness since 2013. He embodies the spirit of servant leadership, uplifting those around him and inspiring them to come up with innovative solutions to difficult problems,” said Vincent Ng, director of VA Boston HCS. “There simply isn’t a better chief medical officer to be found anywhere.”

Charness earned his BS in psychology from McGill University and his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is board certified in internal medicine and neurology. Charness came to VA as a neurologist in 1989 and served as chief of neurology at VA Boston from 1996 to 2003. Chair of the National VA Chief of Staff Advisory Council, Charness recently chaired the Chief Medical Officer Group Steering Committee of the Association of American Medical Colleges. He also is scientific director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)-funded Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, and chairs the External Scientific Board for the National Institutes of Health-funded Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study. Charness also served as president of the Research Society on Alcohol and as a member of the National Advisory Council of the NIAAA.