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Brain injury research group

The brain injury research team, led by Dr. Ricardo Jorge, work every day to answer questions that affect the health of our Veterans.

About us

Our group is a multidisciplinary team supported by experts in neuropsychiatry, neuropsychology, neuroscience, and internal medicine. Our research focus is geared toward the Veteran population understanding  their unique characteristics and experiences. We are particularly interested in developing novel therapeutic and preventive interventions in the area of chronic effects of neurotrauma, neurotoxic exposure, and stress related psychopathology. We work with multiple universities and VA hospitals around the nation through multicenter studies addressing the more urgent needs of Veterans of recent conflicts. 


Translational Research Center for TBI and Stress Disorders (TRACTS)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a very common injury in the OEF/OIF/OND conflicts. Brain injuries can happen as a result of blast exposure, especially repeated blast exposure, from IEDs and other explosives.

Symptoms of TBI may include:

  • Attention problems
  • Concentration problems
  • Memory problems
  • Headaches
  • Balance problems

Many Veterans also experience mental health issues such as PTSD.  Problems stemming from TBI and PTSD may affect a Veteran’s ability to work, study, perform daily activities, or relate with family and friends.

Symptoms and consequences of PTSD may include:

  • Nightmares and flashbacks related to military experiences
  • Being “on the edge,” irritability, anger
  • Depression, sadness, guilt
  • Social isolation
  • Relationship problems and family conflicts
  • Problems at work
  • Increased substance misuse (including problems with alcohol and drugs)


The Houston Translational Research Center for TBI and Stress Disorders (TRACTS), originating in Boston, is a VA Center of Excellence committed to conducting the highest-quality research on the unique problems faced by our nation’s newest Veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND). 

Our goal is to create a group of OEF/OIF/OND Veterans to study how TBI affects the evaluation and treatment of Veterans who have multiple physical and psychological diagnoses. Our purpose is to better understand TBI and stress disorders in returning Veterans. 

What makes TRACTS unique?

Our only focus is on OEF/OIF/OND Veterans and their unique characteristics and experiences. If you were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, TRACTS was created exclusively for you.

“Translational research” means from bench to bedside. That is, as discoveries are being made in the laboratory, the knowledge is applied along the way to develop new ways of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the multiple medical conditions experienced by OIF/OEF/OND.

Ultimately, Houston TRACTS will help the VA develop more useful treatments for returning Veterans. Your help with our studies means more knowledge on this topic and better treatment options for Veterans with TBI and PTSD.

I’m an OEF/OIF/OND Veteran. Am I eligible for TRACTS?

If you are a Veteran of OEF/OIF/OND between the ages of 18–65, who has been deployed at least once to Iraq or Afghanistan, you may be eligible!

The study involves:  

  • Questionnaires
  • Routine physical 
  • Clinical interview 
  • Memory & learning tests
  • Blood draw 
  • MRI

You will receive breakfast/lunch and $210 as compensation for your time after all procedures are completed. In 12–18 months, you will be invited to return and receive up to $310 for your follow-up visit. You may also be eligible for additional assessment and treatment studies.

How Can I Learn More?

We can only accept a limited number of Veterans each week. Call us today at 832-775-1449 to talk to a member of our team.

Research Team

Jorge Ricardo, MD, Brain Injury Research Group Director

Ricardo Jorge, MD,

Brain Injury Research Group Director

VA Houston health care

Lilian Dindo, PhD, Brain Injury Research Group Collaborator

Lilian N. Dindo, PhD,

Brain Injury Research Group Collaborator

VA Houston health care

Contact us

For more information about ways research can help you, your family, and your fellow Veterans, or if you are  a Veteran who is interested in learning more about paid research opportunities at the Houston VA, please contact us at 832-775-1449.