The hosts of the Vets First Podcast, Levi Sowers and Brandon Rea, introduce themselves in this episode. They discuss the origins of the podcast and their goals surrounding it. The two discuss their backgrounds and what brought them to this point in time. They also discuss their research and its relevance to Veterans.
Along the way in their work, the hosts noticed a disconnect between Veterans and research. Many Veterans did not know about VA’s research. Additionally, a major concern of Veterans was people not listening to them. As researchers wanting to give back, they felt a need to convey research focus and findings to Veterans in an easily understood manner and well as provide a platform for Veterans to talk about their experiences. The Iowa City VA research foundation funded this endeavor.
Sowers grew up in rural central Iowa near a town called Perry. He went to the University of Iowa where he graduated in 2012 with his doctorate in molecular and cellular biology. In 2014 he joined the VA Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Visual Loss and Dr. Andrew Russo’s laboratory at The University of Iowa where he now studies traumatic brain injury induced headache and migraine. His work aims to identify brain regions that are important in the development of post-traumatic headache and photophobia (light sensitivity) in Veterans. A profile of Sowers’ research interests is here.
Rea grew up in the small rural town of Bernard, Iowa. He went to the University of Iowa where he graduated in 2012 with a bachelor of science in biology. He is now a researcher in the same lab where he works closely with Sowers on multiple migraine-related projects. Rea’s research expertise focuses on pain-related behaviors in migraine, particularly facial grimace. Rea and Sowers were recently co-first and senior authors, respectively, of a paper published on these findings in the publication PAIN.