May 6, 2013
Last week, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) reached the milestone of enrolling 8,000 participants in the Million Veteran Program (MVP): A Partnership with Veterans, and is leading the nation in enrollment efforts. The MEDVAMC is one of 49 VA medical centers serving as an enrollment site for this national, voluntary research program conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Research & Development. The knowledge gained will help better understand how genes affect Veterans’ health and illness, with the ultimate goal of transforming health care.
“MVP is a truly historic effort, in terms of both VA research and medical research in general,” said Adam C. Walmus, M.H.A., M.A., F.A.C.H.E., MEDVAMC director. “Veterans nationwide are helping to create a database that has the potential to help millions around the country – Veteran and non-Veteran alike. They are continuing to serve the nation well beyond the time they stopped wearing the uniform.”
MVP provides researchers with a rich resource of genetic, health, lifestyle, and military-exposure data collected from questionnaires, medical records, and genetic analyses. By combining this information into a single database, MVP promises to advance knowledge about the complex links between genes and health. Authorized researchers are able to use MVP data to help answer important questions on a wide range of health conditions affecting Veterans, from military-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, to common chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.
Participants are asked to complete a one-time study visit (approximately 20 minutes in length) to provide a blood sample for genetic analysis. Participation also includes filling out health surveys, allowing on-going access to medical records, and agreeing to future contact. Veteran participation does not affect access to VA health care or benefits.
“This milestone has come about thanks to our Veteran participants and lots of hard work and dedication on the part of our researchers and the MVP team,” said Rayan Al Jurdi, M.D., a MEDVAMC psychiatrist, co-primary investigator of the MVP in Houston, and an associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine. “That is why the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center won the title MVP of the MVP for highest overall enrollment nationwide in this research effort.”
“We wish to congratulate the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and the local MVP team for their outstanding performance in reaching this milestone,” said Joel Kupersmith, M.D., VA Chief Research and Development Officer. “Their continued support has placed their facility as the top site among our 49 enrolling MVP sites.”
“With the help of our primary care teams and laboratory staff, we are making great progress toward reaching our goal of enrolling 20,000 southeast Texas Veterans in the next four years,” said Laura Marsh, M.D., Mental Health Care Line executive and co-primary investigator of the MVP in Houston. Marsh is also a professor at the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine.
Tammy Natividad, Maxwell Stewart, “Vicki” Zhifang Zhao and Emily Boeckman are the Houston MVP representatives. They are located at the MEDVAMC in Room 6B-310 and can be reached for an appointment at 713-791-1414, ext. 6911. Walk-ins are also welcome.
Up to a million Veterans are expected to enroll in the VA study over the next six years. Veterans’ privacy and confidentiality are top priorities in MVP, as in all VA research. Data and genetic samples collected through the study are stored securely and made available for studies by authorized researchers, with stringent safeguards in place to protect Veterans’ private health information.
Visit the website of the Million Veteran Program at www.research.va.gov/mvp to learn more. For more information or to participate, call the MVP information center toll-free 1-866-441-6075.
Voluntary research program helps health care providers understand how genes affect Veterans’ health and illness, with ultimate goal of transforming health care.