Military and veteran healthcare has always made space for research into infectious diseases and other areas, such as Major Walter Reed’s work on yellow fever or George Washington inoculating his troops against Smallpox.
Today’s VA is no different and with the Million Veteran Program, Veterans can be on the frontline of one of the largest genetic research programs in the world.
Launched nationally in 2011, MVP Detroit launched in August 2018 and currently has more than 150 veterans enrolled in the program. With more than 845,000 Veteran partners nationally, the program’s goal of one million Veterans can be achieved one regional Veteran at a time. In doing so, genetic researchers hope to learn why certain individuals may be more at risk to certain diseases or why some respond to medications differently.
“The ultimate goal of MVP is to improve and advance healthcare for future generations of veterans, and eventually all Americans,” said Jenee Thompson, Detroit VA MVP Research Coordinator. “The data researchers receive may be used to come up with new and improved ways to prevent, diagnose and treat disease in Veterans.”
Veteran data for MVP participants is confidential and privacy protected and is not available to organizations such as insurance companies and employers. All personal identifying information is removed before being used by researchers. With strict security measures in place, only approved researchers can access genetic and health information and cannot identify Veterans.
Any Veteran able to provide informed consent can join MVP and Veterans do not need to be enrolled in VA healthcare. MVP enrollment is a one-time visit where a Veteran completes the informed consent and provides a blood sample, which will contribute to future research that will inform healthcare. Veterans are also asked to complete surveys that help researchers better understand their health and lifestyle.
Nationally, the MVP is hoping to enroll 5,000 female Veterans by September 30 in order to increase the ability for researchers to study conditions that may have a greater impact on female Veterans, such as breast cancer, heart disease, depression and migraines. Research MVP uncovered has allowed them to study new ways to predict breast cancer with improved screenings based on genes and medical history.
Women are historically underrepresented in biomedical research and only 76,000 (or about 9%) of the 845,000 MVP participants are female Veterans. MVP is hoping to increase participation of women, and also diverse populations, so that research can better apply to every Veteran.
For information on how to participate in the MVP, contact the MVP Information Center at 1-866-441-6075 or visit www.mvp.va.gov. For MVP FAQs, please visit the MVP FAQ website.