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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 (FY2022)

  • 145+ VA-affiliated investigators including 90+ funded VA-based faculty
  • 250+ funded projects
  • 485+ peer-reviewed publications
  • Research expenditures ($28.8 million total) by funding source:
    • NIH: $5.5 million
    • VA: $16.7 million
    • DoD & other federal: $2.2 million
    • Other: $4.5 million

Research Project Overview (FY2022)

Overview of Minneapolis research project funding
Link to larger image

Major Research Project Focus Areas

  • Aging, Dementia, and Parkinson's Disease
  • Brain Sciences and Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Cancer Mechanisms, Prevention, and Treatment
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Health Care Delivery
  • Pulmonary and Infectious Diseases
  • PTSD and other mental health disorders
  • Pain Management and Opioid Reduction
  • Rehabilitation Medicine

Recent Research Findings from Minneapolis VAHCS

Clinical trial of a wearable intervention for trauma-related nightmares in Veterans. This trial showed that Veterans who experience persistent nightmares due to militrary trauma may benefit from use of a novel wearable device intended to increase sleep quality. This report was one of the top 10 studies in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine for 2022, as determined by Altmetric score, which tracks number of mentions in the press and social media. DOI: 10.5664/jcsm.10338 (PI: Davenport)

Positive behaviors increase resilience to pandemic stressors among Veterans. This study showed that positive behaviors such as physical activity, contact with friends and family, and gratitude altered the impact of pandemic-related stressors on anxiety and depression for Veterans, lessening or even eliminating the effects of these stressors on their mental health. DOI: 10.1037/abn0000789 (PI: Marquardt)

Empowering patients to implement self-management of chronic pain. A call-to-action commentary promoting the concept that effective evidence-based, nonpharmacological pain management approaches should include engaging patients with self-management tools. DOI: 10.1093/pm/pnac083 (PI: Burgess)

Effects of a wearable sensory prosthesis on gait, balance function, and falls. A wearable sensory prosthesis can improve outcomes of gait and balance function and substantially decreases incidence of falls during long-term use. DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2022.931048 (PI: Koehler-McNicholas)

Multimodality imaging for prosthetic heart valves. An overview of the clinical use of multimodality imaging, rather than simple transthoracic echocardiography, in evaluation of patients with prosthetic heart valves. DOI: 10.1016/j.pcad.2022.02.002 (PI: Carlson)

Taking the bait from the prescription opioid industry. How a 2003 workshop designed to increase medical residents' willingness to prescribe opioids for chronic pain led to a greater reckoning with the role of physicians and pain researchers in "taking the bait" set out by the opioid industry marketing campaign. DOI: 10.1007/s11606-021-07381-5 (PI: Burgess, Krebs)

Ketamine treatment for Major Depressive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Ketamine administration among patients with depression and possibly with PTSD does not show significant impairment of cognitive functions, supporting that ketamine might facilitate psychotherapy interventions. DOI: 10.1007/s40261-022-01169-z (PI: Shiroma)

Correlation between lower limb amputations and participation in interpersonal and community activities. Development of treatment approaches and devices that can address body image, balance confidence, pain, and mental health concerns can enhance the participation and rehabilitation of Veterans with lower limb amputation. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0270753 (PI: Hansen)

Minor tobacco alkaloids as potential candidates for novel obesity pharmacotherapies. A preclinical study suggests that short-term, daily administration of nornicotine, anabasine, and anatabine have positive effects on weight loss through reductions in body fat and food intake and increases in physical activity. DOI: 10.3390/jcm11030481 (PI: Bunney)

Mental health intervention for Black Veterans with chronic pain. In a randomized trial, a proactive counseling intervention was associated with an improvement in pain-related disability among Black Veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpain.2022.07.002 (PI: Hammett)