Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Treatment-Focused Gulf War Research Strategic Plan Set to Advance Next Week

Research Presentations include Neurological Abnormalities in ill Gulf War Veterans 

RAC will Meet in Joint Session with NRAC, GWSC to Work Toward Finalizing Plan

Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes.com  

(91outcomes.com) - The U.S. Department of Veterans (VA) Affairs Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses (RAC-GWVI) will hold its next meetings on Tues., Jan. 31 and Weds., Feb. 1, 2012 in Washington, DC.

On the first of its two days of meetings, the RAC will meet in joint session with the VA National Research Advisory Committee (NRAC) and the VA Gulf War Steering Committee (GWSC) to jointly work on the final stages of a new strategic plan for VA medical research.  Discussion will be led by Dr. Max Buja, Chair of the NRAC and immediate past chair of the GWSC.  

The plan, called "long overdue" by some RAC members, is expected to be focused squarely on improving the health and lives of the roughly one-third of veterans of the 1991 Gulf War who continue to suffer from otherwise unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness (popularly called “Gulf War Illness” or “Gulf War Syndrome”) more than 20 years after their wartime service.  

On the second day, the RAC’s agenda includes additional areas of action for this year.  

In addition to these important RAC-initiated efforts,  there will be four important presentations related to Gulf War research.  

On the first day of meetings, Dr. Victor Kalasinsky is scheduled to provide an update on VA’s Gulf War related research funding.  Dr. Kalasinsky is the VA’s point person on Gulf War research, filling the position newly created by VA at the RAC’s strong urging. The RAC has been highly critical of VA’s approach to Gulf War research, and this is likely to be part of the discussion.  

On the second day of meetings, presentations will include an update by Dr. Mian Li on research undertaken by the VA’s WRIISCs (War Related Illness and Injury Study Centers).  Dr. Julia Golier is scheduled to present her findings related to brain chemical issues in Gulf War veterans, in particular her hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis findings. The panel will also hear from Dr. James Baraniuk regarding his work with cerebrospinal fluid and proteomic analyses and subtypes among Gulf War veterans with chronic multi-symptom illness.

Dr. Li is a neurologist at the Washington, DC WRIISC, where he has examined many ill Gulf War veterans, and a clinical Associate Professor of Neurology at the George Washington University, also in Washington, DC.  Dr. Golier is a clinician and researcher with current appointments at the James J. Peters Bronx VAMC and the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.  She has previously presented earlier research findings before the RAC showing differences in brain chemicals in 1991 Gulf War veterans with PTSD when compared to veterans with PTSD from other wars.  Dr. Baraniuk is a clinician at the Georgetown University Medical Center and a researcher at Georgetown University in Washington, DC with multiple ongoing studies related to Gulf War veterans.  

Both Dr. Golier and Dr. Baraniuk have current studies funded by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) on Gulf War Illness (GWI) and are featured in the CDRMP’s current GWI program overview booklet.  One of Dr. Golier’s CDMRP-funded studies has also been highlighted in a CDMRP video.

Public Participation

The meetings begin at 8:30 a.m. on Tues., Jan. 30, and at 8:15 a.m. on Weds., Feb. 1.  Both days' meetings will be preceded by an open coffee/tea pastries at 8:00 a.m. for all attendee, which is an excellent opportunity to talk informally with committee members, presenters, and other attendees.  There are no formal arrangements for lunch on Jan. 30, potentially creating an additional opportunity to have similar discussions over lunch.  

Two public comment periods are available, at 3:45 p.m. on the first day of meetings, and at 11:45 a.m. on the second.  Times are approximate and could be sooner or later depending upon the duration of earlier agenda items.  

For those unable to attend in person, you can listen in whole or part via teleconference.   The call-in number is toll-free 1-800-767-1750 and the access code is 82477# .

Written comments for the committee can be submitted to rac@bu.edu.  

About the RAC

The Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC-GWVI) was created by Congress in 1998 through the Persian Gulf War Veterans Act of 1998, and first appointed by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi in January, 2002.  

The mission of the Committee is to make recommendations to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on government research relating to the health consequences of military service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War.

According to its charter, the guiding principle for the work of the Committee shall be the premise that the fundamental goal of Gulf War-related government research is to improve the health of ill Gulf War veterans.   Research priorities are to be judged against this standard.

If you’re Attending

In person:  Lafayette Building, 811 Vermont Ave., NW, Room 1143, Washington, DC.  [ Map ]  This is directly across the street from VA's central office building.
Note that like most federal office buildings, you must first clear security in order to enter.  Arrive early and bring a government-issued photo ID.  The McPherson Square Metro Station (Orange/Blue Lines) is 1/2 block to the northwest (use the Vermont Ave. exit) 

Via Teleconference:  The call-in number is toll-free 1-800-767-1750 and the access code is 82477# .

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