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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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VA Chief of Staff Retires; Will Coordinate Research Consortium

April 4, 2008

Issue Date:  April 1, 2008

Though he retired April 1 as chief of staff at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Thomas Horvath, M.D. will remain busy in the Texas Medical Center coordinating a new research consortium.

"That’s why I chose April Fool’s Day to retire, because I really plan to continue working on neuroscience research," Horvath said.

He will be coordinator of the new Clinical Neuroscience Consortium, which will unite the VA and other TMC institutions in an effort to help soldiers wounded in combat, both physically and mentally.

"The ravages of this latest war, unfortunately, are creating quite a bit of traumatic brain injuries from explosions, small arms fire and concussions," said Horvath, who also is a professor at Baylor College of Medicine’s Menninger Department of Psychiatry.

Soldiers returning home from war face recuperation as well as difficulties with memory, mood swings and dealing with other injuries that caused amputations or other major changes in life, Horvath described.

"This can be what I call the unholy trinity – traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress, and possible substance abuse from prescription drugs and other substances," he said.

To help veterans and their families through these issues, the consortium will bring together resources from various TMC institutions to provide mental, physical and even spiritual assistance.

The TMC’s Institute for Religion and Health can help on the spiritual front, Horvath said.

"The consortium, through an inter-institutional agreement, will help with treatment and research designed to restore function to the brain and mind," he said.

Funding is coming from the U.S. Department of Defense and other related sources.

Horvath, a graduate of the University of Melbourne, Australia, obtained his clinical and research training in internal medicine, neurology, psychiatry and psychophysiology in Australia, at Stanford University and at the Palo Alto VA Medical Center.

He is looking forward to using his expertise to continue helping veterans.

"The consortium will not be a centrally controlled entity, but a collaboration of institutions and researchers who understand what veterans do for this country," Horvath said.