New Mexico VA Health Care System
More than 10,000 N.M Veterans in VA’s Million Veteran Program
May 10, 2018
ALBUQUERQUE – The New Mexico VA Health Care System recently passed a research milestone, enrolling its 10,500th veteran in the VA’s Million Veteran Program (MVP).
Launched in 2011, MVP is a landmark research effort aimed at better understanding how genes affect health. Up to a million veterans are expected to enroll in the VA study over the next three years. 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. MVP is now at 40 VA medical centers nationwide, with additional VA sites opening for enrollment in the coming year.
Thomas Totoris, a U.S. Navy veteran, works as a medical support assistant at the VA’s Northwest Metro Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Rio Rancho, N.M. Totoris, who served 26 years on active duty, was the second veteran in New Mexico to participate in the program in 2011.
“I serve veterans every day in my job, and MVP is another way I can honor their service,” Totoris said. “As a VA employee, I know the importance of medical research, and as a veteran, I look forward to the benefits it will bring in the future. It is an extension of my past service and now I am a veteran helping veterans.”
With nearly 700,000 enrollees to date, MVP already far exceeds the enrollment numbers of any single VA study or research program in the past. Program leaders are aiming to reach 1 million enrollees in 2021, but plan to continue enrolling veterans indefinitely.
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.
MVP-related discoveries also promise to advance the field of personalized medicine, which aims to tailor medical care based on people’s individual genetic profiles. Personalized medicine is expected to yield more effective treatments and reduce costs, given its emphasis on prevention.
Veterans’ privacy and confidentiality are top priorities in MVP, as in all VA research. Rigorous measures are taken to protect MVP participants’ personal information, including secure storage of data and samples using a bar-code system. Researchers approved for access to MVP data do not receive the name, date of birth, social security number, or address of participating Veterans. Furthermore, authorized researchers conduct their analyses only within VA’s secure, centralized computing environment, known as GenISIS (Genomic Information System for Integrated Science).
For information about the Million Veteran Program, call toll-free 866-441-6075, or visit www.research.va.gov/MVP. If you are visiting the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque and would like to learn more, please visit us in the Main Hospital (Building 41) in the Lab (Basement) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The Million Veteran Program is just one example of the valuable research going on with the VA. National VA Research Week is being celebrated May 14-18, 2018. Learn more at https://www.research.va.gov/researchweek/default.cfm