From the Acting Chief Research and Development Officer
Timothy O'Leary, MD, PhD
Timothy O'Leary, MD, PhD
Chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and arthritis are among the most common and costly of all health
problems in the United States. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they are the leading causes of death and disability in our
nation. Case in point: 7 in 10 deaths in the U.S. are from chronic diseases, with heart disease, cancer, and stroke accounting for more than half of all
VA is able to provide high-quality care to Veterans with chronic illnesses thanks to a state-of-the-art electronic health record system, a full continuum
of services, and an emphasis on evidence-based medicine.
Many of the treatments clinicians now use to manage chronic conditions in patients throughout the U.S. and the world have resulted from the efforts of VA
researchers. In February, for example, a group of expert researchers published new guidelines for managing high blood pressure. A VA researcher, Dr.
William C. Cushman, was an expert member of the panel and coauthor of the group's report. In a recent article by Dr. Cushman, he
explained the new guidelines to his fellow physicians.
Our researchers are developing new methods to look at chronic illness and how to care for Veterans who have them. Because our research program is
positioned within an integrated health care system, we have unique opportunities to translate study findings into clinical practice, and to have the work
done in clinical care settings inform our research agenda.
It is important to note that chronic diseases are often preventable, to a large extent, and VA researchers have made exciting progress in developing and
testing new approaches to help ward off these illnesses. One example is a multisite VA trial now underway comparing two methods for colorectal cancer screening. In the "In
the News" section of this newsletter, you'll read about other work by VA investigators and colleagues in the area of colorectal cancer screening.
VA also continues to make changes in its delivery of care through the use of Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACTs), which encourage Veterans to work together
with health care professionals to make sure they receive personalized care to meet their individual health care goals. Our goal is to continue to
collaborate with the entire VHA system, with our academic partners, with other federal agencies, and with private industry to meet the challenges of
helping Veterans manage their chronic diseases.
In this issue of VA Research Quarterly Update, we're pleased to provide you with a report on where we are in this effort, and where we are going.
Timothy J. O'Leary, MD, PhD
Acting Chief Research and Development Officer