From the Chief Research and Development Officer
Progress and transformation
As VA's new chief research and development officer, I sense we are entering an exciting time for the Office of Research and Development and the department as a whole. There will be many opportunities to work with the new administration and President Trump to continue what we do best: conduct innovative research and provide cutting-edge medical treatments to our nation's Veterans.
VA has experienced significant challenges over the last several years, as public trust in our health care systems and providers has flagged. In response, we have rededicated ourselves to our mission to provide timely care and more effective services, and to become more responsive to the 21 million Veterans whom we serve.
Over the last several years, VA has instituted many changes and new processes that have yielded solid results. These are a few VA accomplishments that show we continue to make steady progress toward improved care for our Veterans:
- In a June 2016 survey, 60 percent of Veterans said they "trust the VA to fulfill our country's commitment to Veterans," up from 47 percent in December 2015;
- In a memo dated January 2017, (then under secretary for health) Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David J. Shulkin announced that Veterans now have same-day service for primary care and mental health care in all 166 VA facilities; and
- A study conducted by the RAND Corporation and published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine concluded that VA performs better than or equal to private-sector health care systems in the areas of safety and effectiveness of care.
It is our intent to continue these improvements in care delivery, as well as continue the important contributions to medical research that VA is known for.
VA investigators have a long tradition of groundbreaking research that has made possible remarkable innovations in medical care—for example, the nicotine patch, the first implantable cardiac pacemaker, the shingles vaccine, and the first liver transplant. Our scientists and clinicians also lead the way in important discoveries uniquely suited to our Veterans, like designing new prosthetic limbs and discovering more effective treatments for PTSD.
This issue of VARQU is dedicated to medical research that will help VA better care for the "Returning Veteran." For instance, in "Spotlight on Career Development Awardees" we speak with Dr. Patrick Aubin, a research investigator who works in the Center for Limb Loss and Mobility at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Washington state. Aubin is working on designing a prosthetic lower limb that will help Veterans who have lost a leg walk with less physical effort. He and his team are using computer simulations to test their designs before they even construct a prototype to be field-tested in the lab by prosthesis users.
A strong VA research program is vital to the health and well-being of all Americans, not just our Veterans. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work.
Rachel B. Ramoni, D.M.D., Sc.D.
Chief Research and Development Officer