Office of Research & Development

print icon sign up for VA Research updates

VA Research in Action

All VA research is intended to ultimately contribute to the health and well-being of Veterans. On this page, you will find examples of how VA research has been translated into everyday health care within the Veterans Health Administration or in medical care generally.

click column names to sort sort arrows
Title 
Decade of Seminal Work 
Keywords 

Opioid overdose education and naloxone distribution
In 2014 and 2015, researchers evaluated the feasibility of VA’s distributing naloxone to Veterans at risk for an opioid overdose. Knowledge gained from this project was applied in a variety of ways, and VA now has the largest naloxone distribution program of any U.S. health care system.

2010s Substance use disorders

Improving care for Veterans in VA community living centers
What began as a pilot project at the Bedford (Massachusetts) VA has been rolled out nationally and impacted care for Veterans residing at VA community living centers across the country.

2010s Health care delivery

Bladder bundle program significantly reduces catheter-associated urinary tract infections
A "bladder bundle" set of practices developed by VA researchers has been adopted nationwide, in both VA and non-VA hospitals, as a way to reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

2010s Infectious diseases

Spreading best practices in stroke care
VA providers implemented best practices in stroke care based on research from the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis.

2010s Cardiovascular disease

Precision Oncology Program
VA patients nationwide with a common form of lung cancer now routinely have their tumors genetically sequenced to help determine the best therapy, thanks to a program initiated by researchers and clinicians in VA’s New England region. The program is one of several efforts launched by VA in the area of precision oncology.

2010s Cancer

Virtual Hope Box smartphone app to prevent suicide
VA investigators teamed with Department of Defense colleagues to create a phone app, the Virtual Hope Box, that helps with suicide prevention.

2010s Suicide prevention

STRIDE program to keep hospitalized Veterans mobile
The STRIDE program was developed by VA researchers in Durham to help keep hospitalized Veterans mobile. This has been shown to improve post-hospital outcomes. The program is now being implemented at a number of other VA facilities.

2010s Health care delivery

Emergency Department Patient-Aligned Care Team (ED-PACT) Transfer Tool
Researchers at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System developed a tool using VA’s electronic health record system to enable emergency care clinicians to send messages to Veterans’ primary care teams alerting them to the patients’ specific needs after their emergency visits. The tool is now being disseminated and is expected to curb repeat emergency visits and hospitalizations.

2010s Health care delivery

Tools to aid decision-making for lung cancer screening
Researchers at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System played a key role in developing tools to help patients and their health care providers weigh the risks and benefits of lung cancer screening.

2010s cancer

A web platform to diagnose and manage sleep apnea
VA researchers in San Diego, Atlanta, and Philadelphia developed a web platform, called the Remote Veteran Apnea Management Platform (REVAMP), to allow rural and other Veterans to be evaluated for sleep apnea without traveling to a VA sleep center. The system also helps in the management of the condition.

2010s sleep

Safer prescribing for older adults after emergency care
VA researchers and colleagues developed a program called Enhancing Quality of Provider Practices for Older Adults in the Emergency Department (EQUiPPED) to help providers prescribe the safest drugs to older patients discharged after emergency visits.

2010s Health care delivery

VA research helps lay groundwork for new CDC guidelines on opioids
As a result, in part, of the work of VA researchers, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the nation’s health protection agency, changed its opioid prescription guidelines.

2010s Substance use disorders

Telemedicine outreach for PTSD
The Telemedicine Outreach for PTSD (TOP) program, now in use at 12 VA clinics serving rural Veterans, delivers therapy and other care through phone and interactive video contact. It was developed based on several VA studies showing that remote delivery of psychotherapy for PTSD can be safe, feasible, and effective.

2010s PTSD

New tools to reduce delays in diagnosing cancer
Dr. Hardeep Singh and colleagues at VA’s Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety (IQuESt) in Houston have developed a number of tools—such as triggers within VA’s electronic health record system—designed to prevent delays in follow-up of abnormal test results and diagnosis of cancer.

2010s Health care delivery

Drug approved to diagnose adult growth hormone deficiency
Based on VA research results, the FDA approved the drug Macrilen to diagnose adult growth hormone deficiency. The condition affects about 60,000 adults in the U.S. and Canada.

2010s Endocrinology

Validation of screening tool for intimate partner violence
VA researchers tested and validated a screening tool, or brief questionnaire, to elicit reports of intimate partner violence experienced by women Veterans. VA now uses the tool nationwide.

2010s Women’s health

Individual Placement and Support to help Veterans find jobs
The Individual Placement and Support model was initially developed to help people with serious mental illness find employment. VA researchers have adapted and studied the approach to help Veterans with spinal cord injury and PTSD, and their work has led to wide implementation of IPS in the VA system.

2010s PTSD

Vision screening protocol after a traumatic brain injury
In 2011, VA Palo Alto Health Care System researchers reported that many Veterans with traumatic brain injuries also have "hidden eye injuries" that may go undetected without comprehensive eye examinations. Their work led to new guidelines for eye-care providers in VA and the Department of Defense, and the development of a clinical tool to be used for screenings or exams.

2010s Vision Loss

Oral hygiene to fight pneumonia
VA researchers developed and implemented a program to increase oral hygiene in community living center and hospital patients. This simple initiative has greatly reduced cases of hospital-acquired pneumonia, saving Veterans’ lives and increasing their quality of life.

2010s Respiratory health

Physical environment checklist leads to sharp decline in inpatient suicides at VA facilities
In 2007, VA researchers and clinicians launched the Mental Health Environment of Care Checklist to reduce Veteran suicides in inpatient settings. A study published 10 years later found that the program led to a sharp decline in suicides at VA inpatient mental health units from 2000 to 2015.

2000s Suicide Prevention

Treating cardiac arrhythmias
VA research in the 1990s and 2000s was crucial in the development of cardiac ablation as a way to treat cardiac arrhythmia. Cardiac arrhythmia is a heart condition in which the heart beats too fast, too slow, or irregularly. Untreated arrhythmias may have serious consequences, such as heart attack and stroke.

2000s Cardiovascular disease

Restoring the ability to cough for those with spinal cord injury
Many people with spinal cord injury are at risk for serious respiratory infections and pneumonia because they cannot cough to clear their lungs and airways. A cough stimulator developed by VA researchers and colleagues in Cleveland is now in use clinically, reducing the incidence of respiratory infections, improving quality of life, and dramatically reducing the costs of care for Veterans and others with SCI.

2000s Spinal cord injury, respiratory health

Prolonged exposure therapy to treat PTSD
Thousands of VA mental health counselors have been trained in prolonged exposure therapy to treat PTSD, partly thanks to positive results from a large VA study of the treatment in female Veterans.

2000s PTSD

Progressive Tinnitus Management
Progressive Tinnitus Management, an audiology program adopted nationwide in both VA and Department of Defense clinics, was developed by VA’s National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research.

2000s Hearing loss

Stepped-care and collaborative-care models for chronic musculoskeletal pain
Stepped-care and collaborative-care models, validated in VA research trials, have become central to VA’s standard approach to treating chronic pain among Veterans.

2000s Pain

The LUKE/DEKA advanced prosthetic arm
VA researchers were integral in testing and optimizing the LUKE/DEKA advanced prosthetic arm, and Veterans are now receiving the device.

2000s Prosthetics

Powered ankle-foot prosthesis
In 2007, researchers with VA, MIT, and Brown University introduced a "powered ankle-foot prosthesis," which uses tendon-like springs and an electric motor to move users forward. The device is now helping Veterans and active-duty service members.

2000s Prosthetics

Shingles vaccine approved by FDA
VA led the clinical trial that resulted in FDA approval for a shingles vaccine. FDA's initial approval for the use of the vaccine in people over 60 years old came in 2006. In 2011, the vaccine was approved for those 50 years old and over. The CDC has recommended that adults 50 years and older get vaccinated.

2000s Infectious diseases

SmartWheel enhances the well-being of wheelchair users
The SMARTWheel, developed by the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, was designed to help wheelchair users avoid repetitive stress injuries. It is in use at more than 175 clinics and labs nationwide.

1990s Prosthetics

Diabetes drug from Gila monster venom
VA researchers discovered a new diabetes drug from an unusual source: the Gila monster, a large lizard native to the southwestern U.S. A hormone in the lizard’s venom stimulates insulin production. A drug based on the discovery is now used by more than 2 million people worldwide.

1990s Diabetes

An aspirin a day to prevent heart attack and stroke
A 1983 VA clinical trial found that a single aspirin tablet a day reduced the risk of death from heart attack by half among men with unstable angina. The study has been cited countless times in support of using aspirin in these patients, and the therapy has become standard medical practice.

1980s Cardiovascular disease

Development of the nicotine patch for smoking cessation
VA researchers developed the nicotine patch in 1984. For decades, the device has been widely used to help smokers quit.

1980s Substance use disorders

Foundation of modern endocrinology
Nobel-winning longtime VA scientist Dr. Andrew Schally established the foundation for many research areas, including neuroendocrinology and reproductive endocrinology. His work has led to new treatments for certain cancers and laid the groundwork for advances in reproductive medicine.

1970s Endocrinology

Gleason score for prostate cancer
In the 1960s, VA researcher Donald Gleason and colleagues developed a grading system to classify the stage and prognosis of prostate cancer. Today, the Gleason score is considered the most reliable measure of how likely a prostate tumor is to grow and spread.

1960s Cancer

Drug therapy for moderate high blood pressure
In the 1960s, VA undertook the first well-designed, placebo-controlled clinical trial to show whether medication can prevent deaths in those with moderate high blood pressure. The research led to a revolution in the care of people with hypertension.

1960s Cardiovascular disease

First successful liver transplant
Longtime VA transplant surgeon and research scientist Dr. Thomas Starzl was widely regarded as the “father of transplantation.” He is credited with the "first-ever series of repetitively successful human kidney transplantations” and the first successful liver transplant.

1960s Regenerative medicine

Smoking increases lung cancer risk
Pioneering work at the East Orange VA Medical Center in the 1960s established the causal link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.

1960s Cancer, Respiratory health

Radioimmunassay: Invaluable technique for measuring substances in the blood
Radioimmunoassay, widely used in medicine today to measure substances in the blood, was developed by VA researchers Dr. Rosalyn Yalow, who would go on to win a Nobel Prize for the work, and Dr. Solomon Berson.

1950s Diagnostics

The invention of the cardiac pacemaker
VA researchers developed and tested the first clinically successful cardiac pacemaker. The invention prevents potentially life-threatening complication from irregular heartbeats.

1950s Cardiovascular disease




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.