Source: MeriTalk | Staff | September 16, 2020

Data offers extraordinary power – and no two organizations harness this power better than the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). These two groups rallied around a shared goal – to leverage technology to improve the lives of veterans and citizens alike.

Launched in 2011, the Million Veteran Program (MVP) sought to learn how genes, lifestyle, and military exposures affect health and illness. Today, over 825,000 veteran partners make up one of the world’s largest programs on genetics and health.

MVP helps researchers across the country better understand how genes affect health and illness – helping them to prevent illnesses and improve treatments of disease. Research using MVP data is already a part of more than 30 VA projects, including efforts focused on understanding the role of genes in PTSD, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and suicide. This research is helping the VA to better understand the role genes play in many common illnesses, especially those among combat veterans.

Suicide prevention is the VA’s highest priority. Since 2016, more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide and from 2005-2016, the rate of veteran suicides in the U.S. increased by more than 25 percent.

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