When a health care provider joins VA, they will quickly learn that research and development are cornerstones of delivering proactive, personalized, patient-driven health care for our Veterans. Regardless of your profession—physician, nurse, mental health, pharmacy, allied health, dentistry or staff support—you will be working with tools that are the result of best practices in research and development.
At VA Boston Healthcare System, an unprecedented research program is underway that will advance the sophisticated science of genomics. Known as the Million Veteran Program, this initiative will infuse genetic, military exposure, health, and lifestyle information together into one single database.
Authorized researchers with VA, other federal health agencies, and academic institutions within the U.S. will be able to conduct health and wellness studies to improve disease screening, diagnosis, and prognosis and point the way toward more effective, personalized therapies.
On the other side of the country, VA Portland Healthcare System and eight VA facilities were chosen to develop a comprehensive a lung cancer screening system that will provide high-quality care to high-risk Veterans. This effort will enable VA health care providers with information that will help determine best practices for lung cancer screening that may be used throughout the U.S.
Historically, VA research initiatives and end results are tremendous. Among many accomplishments, VA researchers have:
• Pioneered and developed modern electronic medical records
• Developed the implantable cardiac pacemaker
• Conducted the first successful liver transplants
• Created the nicotine patch to help smokers quit
• Crafted artificial limbs that move naturally when stimulated by electrical brain impulses;
• Demonstrated that patients with total paralysis could control robotic arms using only their thoughts — a revolutionary system called “Braingate”
• Identified genetic risk factors for schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and Werner’s syndrome, among others
• Applied bar-code software for administering medications to patients — the initiative of a VA nurse
• Proved that one aspirin a day reduced by half the rate of death and nonfatal heart attacks in patients with unstable angina
VA received three Nobel Prizes in medicine or physiology; seven prestigious Lasker Awards, presented to people who make major contributions to medical science or public service on behalf of medicine. VA also earned two of the eight 2014 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America medals.
During your career at VA you will have opportunities to gain knowledge and work with VA researchers and health care leaders. No matter where your expertise and training falls, you can play an important role in creating innovations that advance health care for our Veterans and the nation.