Monday, December 15, 2014

Congress Grants Strong Continuation for Gulf War Illness Treatment Research Program

( - The $1.1 trillion federal appropriations package that finally hurdled Congress last weekend included a measure of relief for the roughly one-third of veterans of the 1991 Gulf War suffering from Gulf War Illness.  

The massive bill funds almost the entire federal government of the next year.   Among its many provision, the life of the treatment-focused, Congressionally directed, "Peer Reviewed Gulf War Illness Research" program (GWIRP) is extended for another year through Fiscal Year 2015 and is funded at the same $20 million level as the last two fiscal years.

The Gulf War Illness Research Program -- part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) -- has been praised by veterans and researchers alike.  It directs its efforts to, "improve the health and lives of veterans who have Gulf War Illness."  The program's stated mission is to, "fund innovative Gulf War Illness research to identify effective treatments, improve definition and diagnosis, and better understand pathobiology and symptoms." 

As a Congressionally directed program, the Gulf War Illness Research Program must be specifically funded by Congress each year or it does not continue.  

Other CDMRP programs funded this year and of potential interest to Gulf War veterans include ALS ($7.5 million, same as FY14), MS ($5 million, same as FY14), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and psychological health ($125 million, an increase from $80 million in FY14), various cancers, and a new therapeutic service dog training program ($3 million).

Medical research into burn pit exposure is included for the first time under the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP), which was funded at $247.5 million (up from $200 million in FY14).  Among the 41 conditions authorized under the program are also acupuncture, integrative medicine, metals toxicology, mitochondrial disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and sleep disorders.  

The effort to secure this funding is led by Gulf War veterans, advocates, and Congressional allies.  In the U.S. House of Representatives, key supporters included co-leads outgoing House Veterans' Affairs Committee (HVAC) Ranking Member Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) and Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), and important supporters including HVAC Chair Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), HVAC Subcommittee Chair Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Ranking Member Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), and newly appointed HVAC Ranking Member Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL). 

In the U.S. Senate, co-leads U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee (SVAC) Chair Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) were among the supporters.  

The bill passed the House on Thursday, December 11, and the Senate on Sunday, December 14, 2014.  The President is expected to sign it into law.  


Research Program  FY15 Funding (in $ millions) 

Alcohol/Substance Abuse Disorders 
ALS   7.500
Alzheimers  12.000

Bone Marrow Failure Disease  3.200
Breast Cancer  120.000

Cancer (NOTE 1)
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy  3.200
Epilepsy  7.500

Gulf War Illness

Lung Cancer  10.500
Medical (NOTE 2)  247.500

Multiple Sclerosis

Orthopedic  30.000
Ovarian Cancer  20.000

Prostate Cancer

Spinal Cord  30.000
Reconstructive Transplant  15.000

Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health

Tuberous Sclerosis Complex  6.000
Vision  10.000


HIV/AIDS program increase
Joint Warfighter  50.000

Orthotics and Prosthetics Outcomes
Restore Core Research Funding Reduction  179.815
Therapeutic Service Dog Training Program  3.000


*NOTE 1 - Cancer:  The Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP), funded at $50 million for FY15, includes the following cancers:

  • Colorectal cancer
  • Genetic Cancer research
  • kidney cancer
  • listeria vaccine for cancer
  • liver cancer
  • melanoma and other skin cancers
  • mesothelioma
  • myeloproliferative disorders
  • neuroblastoma
  • pancreatic cancer
  • stomach cancer
*NOTE 2 - Medical: The Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP), funded at $247.5 million for FY15, includes the following conditions:
  • acupuncture
  • acute lung injury
  • advanced prosthetics
  • arthritis
  • burn pit exposure
  • cardiovascular health
  • chronic migraine and post-traumatic headache
  • congenital heart disease
  • Dengue
  • diabetes
  • DNAvaccine technology for postexposure prophylaxis
  • dystonia
  • focal segmental glomerulosclerosis
  • food allergies
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • healthcare-acquired infection reduction
  • hepatitis B 
  • hereditary angioedema
  • hydrocephalus
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • integrative medicine
  • interstitial cystitis
  • lupus
  • malaria
  • metals toxicology
  • mitochondrial disease
  • nanomaterials for bone regeneration
  • osteoarthritis
  • pancreatitis
  • pathogen-inactivated dried plasma
  • polycystic kidney disease
  • post-traumatic osteoarthritis
  • psychotropic medications
  • pulmonary fibrosis
  • respiratory health
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • scleroderma
  • sleep disorders
  • tinnitus
  • vascular malformations
  • women’s heart disease


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