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Minneapolis VA Health Care System Research Service

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Program Overview

The Minneapolis VAHCS Research Program, first established in 1946 and affiliated with the University of Minnesota Medical School, is one of the largest research programs in the VA system. The program supports the Minneapolis VAHCS clinical & education missions by:

  • Helping to attract and retain outstanding clinicians
  • Providing VA patients access to novel therapeutic modalities
  • Regularly garnering positive media attention locally and nationally
  • Discovering knowledge that improves the health and wellbeing of Veterans
  • Generating VERA $ for the institution ($129 million from 2012-2021)

Program Metrics (FY2020)

  • 140+ VA-affiliated investigators including 90+ funded VA-based faculty
  • 176+ funded projects
  • 450+ peer-reviewed publications
  • Research expenditures ($26.2 million total) by funding source:
    • NIH: $5.4 million
    • VA: $15.7 million
    • DoD & other federal: $1.6 million
    • Other: $3.5 million

Research Project Overview (FY2020)

Overview of Minneapolis research project funding
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Funded Research Project Focus Areas (FY2020)

Research Focus Areas
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Recent Research Findings from Minneapolis VAHCS

Treatment duration for men with UTI. A randomized controlled trial found that treatment for 7 days was non‐inferior to 14 days for afebrile men with urinary tract infection. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2021.9899 (PI: Drekonja)

Flu vaccines in people with high‐risk cardiovascular disease. A randomized trial found that high‐dose trivalent flu vaccine, compared with standard dose Quadrivalent flu vaccine, did not significantly reduce all‐cause mortality or cardiopulmonary hospitalizations. Influenza vaccination is strongly recommenced in this population. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2020.23649 (PI: Vardeny)

Identification of a mechanism of cell survival and death by an essential cell signal. The oncology research group has discovered that protein kinase CK2 protects cancer cell survival through control of intracellular calcium homeostasis. DOI: 10.1007/s11010-020-03752-4 (PI: Ahmed)

Epidural spinal cord stimulation can restore volitional movement in people with chronic spinal cord injury. DOI: 10.3389/fnsys.2020.00035 (PI: Samadani)

Drug treatment for Alzheimer’s. Cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine slightly reduced short‐term cognitive decline, and cholinesterase inhibitors slightly reduce functional decline. Evidence was mostly insufficient on drug treatment of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia and on supplements for all outcomes. DOI: 10.7326/M19‐3887 (PI: Fink)

Advancing medication treatment for opioid use disorder. A national multicenter demonstrated that researchers partnering with low performing facilities positively influences the use of medication treatment for opioid use disorder. DOI: 10.1186/s43058‐021‐00119‐8 (PI: Hagedorn)

Multi‐purpose arm cycle ergometer. This exercise device can be used in the supine, sitting, and standing position and by people with spinal cord injuries. The M‐PACE has been licensed to Action Manufacturing and is now commercially available as the Action M‐PACE. (PI: Olney)

Ergonomic wheelchair removes the tire and push rim from proximity to each other resulting in significantly reduced bacterial contamination of the hands. DOI: 10.1080/17483107.2020.1786735 (PI: Slater)

Treatment for PTSD and Substance use disorder. A randomized trial found that both an integrated and a phased application of evidence‐based psychotherapies resulted in meaningful clinical improvement for Veterans with both conditions. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.107647 (PI: Kehle‐Forbes)

Proactive tobacco treatment for Veterans with PTSD. In a randomized trial, a proactive outreach intervention significantly increased rates of combined counselling and nicotine replacement therapy utilization and 7‐day point prevalence abstinence from smoking among Veterans with PTSD. DOI: 10.1037/tra0000613 (PI: Hammett)