Southern Arizona VA Health Care System
Million Veteran Program (MVP)
Launched in 2011, The Million Veteran Program is a landmark research effort aimed at better understanding how genes affect health, and the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System (SAVAHCS) is working to ensure that Veterans are aware of this program and how it will be used to advance medicine within the VA.
“Veterans who participate in the program may provide valuable information for improvements to VA health care, therefore-helping their fellow Veterans-possibly mankind in general,” said Benita Duarte, Study Coordinator for the Million Veteran Program at the Tucson VA. “Since VA research is very coveted, information learned from the program could very well impact not only VA healthcare, but all healthcare in general.”
The Million Veteran Program is a trailblazing VA effort to consolidate genetic, military exposure, health, and lifestyle information together in one single database. The database will be used only by authorized researchers with VA, other federal health agencies, and academic institutions within the U.S.—in a secure manner—to conduct health and wellness studies to determine which genetic variations are associated with particular health issues. By identifying gene-health connections, the program could consequentially advance disease screening, diagnosis, and prognosis and point the way toward more effective, personalized therapies. So far,
SAVAHCS has enrolled approximately 5,700 Veteran into the Million Veteran program.
“Any Veteran who has established care in the VA and has been enrolled for three months can participate. Veterans are asked to sign an informed consent allowing a blood sample to be drawn and stored for future research. Two questionnaires will be sent to the Veteran by mail, with an addressed stamped envelope. Questionnaires are optional,” said Duarte.
Patient safety and information security are the top priorities in MVP and all VA research initiatives. To protect Veterans’ confidentiality, blood samples containing genetic material and health information collected for MVP will be stored in a secure manner and labeled with a barcode instead of personal information. The researchers who are approved to access samples and data will not receive the name, address, social security number or date of birth of participating Veterans. Importantly, the data will not move to the researchers, but rather researchers will come to the data—through the VA GenISIS computing environment—to increase security.
“The VA Million Veteran Program, already one of the world’s largest medical databases thanks to the hundreds of thousands of Veterans who have volunteered,” said Duarte. “MVP provides valuable information to researchers who investigate ways to improve treatment for common conditions, like diabetes and cancer, and military-related illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.”
The appointment is about 20 minutes long and no information is needed for the appointment. Walk-ins are welcome from 8:00 a.m. to-11:30 a.m. and from 12:40 p.m. till 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Saguaro Clinic located in building 80 at the main Tucson VA campus.
For more information about the Million Veteran program, Veterans can call 1 (866) 441-6075.