Source: WFLA TV-Tampa | Evan Donovan | May 22, 2018

The James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa, Florida is hosting a ‘VA Research Day”. The public is invited to attend the event which showcases the incredible research being done by the Veterans Administration’s Research and Development teams.

Dr. Bob Campbell, associate chief of staff for R&D at the VA hospital in Tampa, says it’s an opportunity for the public, including veterans, to learn what the 600 people involved in research projects at Haley are doing — and how they can take part.

“It’s a place to meet passionate people with purpose who devote their lives to research programs. You may not even understand the research they’re doing, but you will get in touch with the passion they have for what they’re doing.”

Programs include nanotechnology, Alzheimer’s research, traumatic brain injury science, Gulf War illness, development of pharmaceuticals, biomedicine, treating diabetes, rehabilitation research for amputees and many more.

One of the most interesting projects is the Exoskeleton, a device using hip sensors and leg supports that can help wheelchair-bound veterans walk.

“We had a vet recently who has been in a wheelchair for 8 years,” said Campbell. “The last 18 months, he’s been in the program using the Exoskeleton. We had some some people from central office ask, ‘what does this mean to you?’ He said ‘it gives me my dignity back, my life back. Now I can spend weekends walking in the mall with my wife.’ It’s a game changer.”

Another initiative is called the Million Veteran Program, or MVP for short.

“We’re taking blood samples from vets–we have about 700,000 now–and we do genetic analysis of what their genome looks like,” said Campbell. “Then we put all their life’s health care data with that. And we ask, ‘if you’ve got these genes, what are you getting treated for? What’s working?”

Dr. Campbell said the only place they could use that could handle that type of data is the supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which used to handle calculations for the nuclear program.

“You’re gonna see associations we never thought of, never dawned on us,” said Dr. Campbell. “Because nobody had the power to put all that health care data together, everything that’s happened to them. Even the notes, the unstructured notes, it’ll pull that stuff, too.”