VA Research: A Historical Look
Tracing the path of progress in VA medical research does not involve drawing a straight line. It requires, rather, sketching a jagged streak forward—the many high points marked by significant findings and the development of medical advances, the few downticks indicating an occasional disappointment—the trend always upward toward promise and hope for improved health care and a better quality of life.
The focus of this history is the innovation produced in this remarkable program; a few examples of what VA research has accomplished include the:
- First decisive trials of effective treatments for tuberculosis;
- Demonstration of the lifesaving value of treating hypertension;
- Development of the concept of CT scanning;
- Discovery and development of radioimmunoassay, facilitating measurements of previously
- Cooperative studies proving the efficacy of psychoactive drugs in stabilizing psychiatric
- Demonstration of the relationship between smoking and lung cancer, leading to initial
warnings in the Report of the Surgeon General; and
- Development of a practical, implantable cardiac pacemaker.
Although this research program produced more than enough accomplishments to completely occupy its text, this history also attempts to depict the pioneers who carved that path of progress. In large measure, the history of VA medical research is their story.