Office of Research & Development

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Joining a Research Study

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About Our Research

From research on tuberculosis in the 1940s, to today's developments in advanced robotic prosthetics, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has ranked as one of the nation's leaders in health research.

The VA Research program consists of four main research services, which work together to address the full spectrum of Veterans' health needs

Why Are Research Studies Important?

Research studies are important because they can help provide:

  • an organized, methodical way to learn more about a specific concern
  • answers about whether or not a treatment is effective
  • a better understanding about which health care services are effective and efficient
  • opportunities to test whether a drug or piece of equipment is safe and effective
  • answers to questions about the best way to treat or prevent an illness

What Are the Results of VA Research?

While some studies look at existing information, numbers, or other data, other studies require human participation. These volunteer participants have contributed to many important advances in health care, including:

  • The development of microelectronics and robotics to create artificial limbs that look, feel, and work more like natural arms and legs.
  • The creation of the nicotine patch to help people stop smoking.
  • The invention of the cardiac pacemaker.
  • The first successful liver transplant.
  • The development of the CAT (or CT) scan.
  • The development of new drugs and treatments for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and osteoporosis.

No one can predict the exact outcome of a research study, and you may or may not see a direct benefit to your health or health condition if you take part in a research study, but your participation does matter.

What are the five VA Research Principles?

If you’re a Veteran—especially if you’re considering volunteering in a VA study—you should know that the highest priority of VA Research is protecting participants. Specifically, you should know about the five general “VA Research Principles” all clinical research in VA must adhere to, as stated below. (Of course, there are many detailed rules and guidelines that are followed besides these general principles.)

  • Ensure that all members of the research team conduct themselves as professionals, upholding the highest standards of quality and ethics in their work.
  • Undertake clinical research only if it is reviewed, approved, and monitored by appropriate VA  committees that ensure the research study is properly designed, does not involve undue risks, and includes safeguards for participants.
  • Clearly explain that participation in a research study is voluntary and occurs only with consent, and that participants have a right to change their mind at any time without affecting their VA health care or benefits.
  • Educate individuals who are considering enrolling in a research study about the study and its possible benefits and risks.
  • Safeguard each participant’s information.

Want to learn more?

If you’d like to learn more about volunteering for a VA research study, check the additional menu options to the left, under “Joining a Research Study.” And you can learn about specific opportunities in the Find Studies to Join” box at the top right of this page.


Questions about the R&D website? Email the Web Team.

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.