Office of Research & Development

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VA RESEARCH QUARTERLY UPDATE
 

From the Chief Research and Development Officer


  Timothy O'Leary, MD, PhD)
Timothy O'Leary, MD, PhD

Timothy O'Leary, MD, PhD

VA Research Week celebrates the accomplishments of VA's research program and recognizes the researchers, Veterans, and partners who support it. It takes place annually the third week in May, which in 2015 is from May 18-22. This year's theme is "VA Research: 90 Years of Excellence!"

To commemorate Research Week, VA facilities throughout the nation hold open houses and other activities. These activities recognize Veterans for their participation in research studies. They also enable VA investigators to present findings from discoveries and innovations that have led to advancements in Veterans' health care and improved on existing medical knowledge.

Some of those researchers will present their findings on supporting and improving chronic disease management efforts for Veterans and their families, which is among the highest priorities of VA research.

Dr. Camille Vaughan (left) and research coordinator Lisa Calas, both with the Center of Excellence for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, take part in a Research Week event last year.
Dr. Camille Vaughan (left) and research coordinator Lisa Calas, both with the Center of Excellence for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, take part in a Research Week event last year. (Photo by Adam Hernandez)

Dr. Camille Vaughan (left) and research coordinator Lisa Calas, both with the Center of Excellence for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, take part in a Research Week event last year. (Photo by Adam Hernandez)

Among the chronic diseases of particular interest to VA researchers is diabetes, which affects nearly a quarter of VA patients. Our investigators are developing and testing innovative diabetes care strategies and technologies to enhance access to diabetes care and to improve outcomes for patients. Strategies currently being evaluated to prevent or treat diabetes include group visits, telemedicine, peer counseling, and Internet-based education and case management.

Some of the key work in this area is taking place through VA's Diabetes Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI), based in Ann Arbor, Mich. This group is committed to implementing promising research findings into clinical practice.

In addition, VA researchers are working with special populations in which the risk of diabetes, or for severe diabetes complications, is especially high. These include the elderly, amputees, minorities, spinal cord injured patients, and those with kidney or heart disease.

Other VA researchers are developing new treatments for cardiovascular disease and working to improve existing treatments. They are looking at the genetic and lifestyle causes of the disease, and finding new ways to help stroke victims and other patients recover as much function as possible after cardiovascular events.

VA's very first centrally funded research laboratory was the department's tumor research unit, set up in Hines, Ill., in 1932. The unit did some of the first studies on the link between smoking and lung cancer, an issue VA researchers have continued to explore over the years. Today, VA's cancer investigators conduct laboratory experiments aimed at discovering the molecular and genetic mechanisms involved in cancer; studies looking at the causes of disease; and clinical trials to evaluate new or existing treatments.

VA investigators are also looking at potential approaches for treating and preventing mental health disorders. In addition, they are studying related issues such as developing and evaluating collaborative primary care models, and improving access to services from remote areas by using the Internet and other technologies.

VA's 15 Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Centers (MIRECCs) were established by Congress to research the causes and treatments of mental disorders, and to use education to put new knowledge into routine clinical practice in VA. Specialized mental health centers of excellence are an essential part of VA's ability to meet Veterans' mental health needs.

This issue of VA Research Quarterly Update will provide you with information on our efforts on behalf of Veterans who have developed lifelong chronic medical conditions, many resulting from their service in uniform. We intend to continue to provide VA clinicians and our Veterans with information on the best evidence-based practices for chronic disease management available anywhere.

Happy VA Research Week 2015!


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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.