Veteran Connection: VA Research Program Nears 1 Million Participants | News

When you think of veterans health care, what comes to mind? They may be the doctors, nurses, or other front-line staff you meet during a visit to your medical center or VA clinic.

Did you know that for every person you see on a visit, countless other people are working behind the scenes to improve your experience and even improve the science behind the care you receive?

This month, we celebrate our VA researchers for their work to improve the quality of life of veterans across the country by highlighting how science and innovation in the healthcare system directly improves the lives of veterans.

Research has been a part of VA for more than 90 years, and VA researchers have helped develop effective treatments for tuberculosis, invented computed tomography (CT or CAT), and performed the first successful liver transplant.

An example of VA research currently underway is the Million Veteran Program (MVP), which includes genetic studies to learn how genes, lifestyle, and military exposures affect health and disease.

MVP aims to recruit its millionth veteran in 2023. It will be the first research program in the world with one million people, significantly advancing the ability to study the genetics and health of the veteran population.

“The thought of reaching our goal is extremely exciting,” said MVP Research Coordinator Shawna Lacey-Tucker. “Even after we reach our goal, ongoing research with this program will continue to provide us with key health and genetic information for decades to come.”

Ultimately, MVP research can lead to advances in disease identification, treatment, and prevention on an individual or personalized basis.

“Veterans are a very diverse group from all walks of life, ethnicities and regions,” Lacey-Tucker said, citing the “extremely rich source of information” provided by MVP. “Each veteran who participates contributes a wealth of knowledge that will be used to better understand human genetics, lifestyles and exposures – this information can then be used to create more effective treatments and better screening for prevention.”

By collecting DNA from as many veterans as possible, researchers are beginning to answer important questions:

• Why does a certain treatment work well for some Veterans but not for others?

• Why are some veterans more at risk of developing a disease?

• How can we prevent certain diseases in the first place?

If more women and diverse populations sign up, MVP researchers may uncover new medical breakthroughs that work for all veterans.

“The feedback I’ve encountered when talking to veterans who have signed up has been positive and hopeful,” Lacey-Tucker said. “They are happy to participate in the pursuit of better health care for themselves, their children and their grandchildren.”

To learn more about VA research, visit www.research.va.gov. For more questions about MVP, explore their FAQ at www.mvp.va.gov/pwa/faqs or speak with a staff member at (866) 441-6075.

Once registered, you may be contacted periodically if additional information is requested. You will also receive newsletters at least once a year about the program and updates on research results and other topics of interest.

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