Promoting research partnerships 

to improve veterans’ health

Professional Staff

Rick Starrs

Rick Starrs joined NAVREF as Chief Executive Officer in January 2016 after concluding his US Army career as a Colonel. Rick enjoyed more than 25 years of leadership experience in the military health system ranging from leading troops in combat to working on Capitol Hill to overseeing the day-to-day operations of a multi-billion dollar military medical research, acquisition, and logistics enterprise. He has a background as a health services comptroller with extensive expertise in congressional affairs and a history of successful performance in a range of high visibility positions that required daily interaction at the most senior levels of the Army, Pentagon, and Capitol Hill. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Georgetown University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin. Rick is passionate about serving his country and enhancing the lives of veterans.



Hawk Tran

Hawk Tran joined NAVREF in 2014 with a background in military health affairs, epidemiology, and public health administration. Mr. Tran has had a 8 year career in the United States Army as a Health Care Specialist and later on becoming a commissioned officer in the Medical Service Corps as a Medical Operations Officer, a capacity that was responsible for the administration of medical operations at various duty locations. After serving his committment, Mr. Tran began his civilian career at the Miami-Dade County Health Department as an STD/HIV Epidemiologist where his main activities included conducting disease investigation, implementing disease intervention methods, and providing community health education. Mr. Tran moved from his home in Miami, FL to Washington, D.C. where he completed an assignment at the Pentagon, working in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, Irregular Warfare Division. Mr. Tran received his B.A. in International Relations in 2009 from Florida International University in Miami, FL, and possesses a graduate certificate in Infectious Disease Epidemiology from the University of South Florida. He is also a graduate of the Health Administration Officer Program at Ft. Sam Houston, TX, and the Tropical Medicine Course at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, MD.


Krissa Caroff

Krissa Caroff joins NAVREF after a 10 year career with VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS), working first as their Research Compliance Officer and then transitioning into a unique role as their Research Education and Policy Coordinator, where she was responsible for developing, implementing, and overseeing the  VAPHS research education program for investigators, staff, and committee members. Ms. Caroff also served as the regulatory expert regarding VA and other Federal requirements governing the conduct of human subjects research, and utilized her knowledge to ensure that regulatory and policy updates were disseminated to the VAPHS research community in a timely manner. Her knowledge also allowed her to the serve as the Human Research Protection Program accreditation coordinator for VAPHS.  Before working for VA, Ms. Caroff worked at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for 6 years, working on numerous clinical trials focusing on genitourinary cancer, grief, and anxiety. Ms. Caroff received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and her Master's Degree in Professional Leadership from Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA. She is also a Certified Professional Coach and Master Practitioner of the Energy Leadership Index Assessment. 

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