Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Public Session Tomorrow: IOM Gulf War and Health Rewrite Committee

(91outcomes.com) - A new Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee to revise and update the IOM's 2010 Gulf War health review will hold its first meeting as a public session in Washington, DC tomorrow, Wednesday, December 3, 2014.

The IOM has convened the "Committee on Gulf War and Health, Volume 10: Update of Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War," under contract with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  

The committee will revise the IOM's 2010 "Gulf War and Health" report via a medical and scientific literature review, with a focus on neurological disorders, cancer, and chronic multi symptom illness in Gulf War veterans, with a 2014 IOM panel directed to be named "Gulf War illness".

Among the scheduled presenters are the new committee's chair, Dr. Deborah Cory-Slechta, two VA officials, and Dr. Roberta White, Scientific Director of the VA's Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC).  

The IOM's 2010 "Gulf War and Health" report, which will be revised by this new committee, found:

  • Higher rates of symptoms among veterans of the 1991 Gulf War are “beyond dispute” (p. ix)
  • There is "sufficient evidence of an association" between deployment to the Gulf War and Gulf War illness (p. 210), which affects more than 250,000 veterans of the 1991 Gulf War (p. 262)
  • Gulf War illness "cannot be reliably ascribed to any known psychiatric disorder" (p. 109)
  • "Current evidence is inadequate to determine whether an association exists between multisymptom illness and any specific battlefield exposure or exposures." (p. x)
  • The causes of Gulf War illness are likely the "interplay between genetic and environmental factors" (p. 261)
  • "Veterans who continue to suffer from these discouraging symptoms deserve the very best that modern science and medicine can offer to delineate the true underlying cause of these symptoms in order to speed the development of effective treatments, cures, and, it is hoped, preventions. The committee suggests a path forward to accomplish these goals and we believe that, through a concerted national effort and rigorous scientific input, answers can likely be found." (p. x)
Several former members of the RAC have expressed concerns regarding the composition and direction of the new IOM committee, in a letter to IOM President Dr. Victor Dzau.  A copy of their letter is here.

Gulf War veterans and others interested in attending the Dec. 3rd meeting may join by phone using the call-in number below.  
Wednesday, December 3rd1pm to 4pm EST1-866-528-2256Access Code: 9958550

Brief comments will be called for after the scheduled presentations.  Gulf War veterans Anthony Hardie -- a former RAC member and director of Veterans for Common Sense, a national veterans advocacy organization -- and Denise Nichols -- a former U.S. Air Force Major and nurse and Vice President of the National Vietnam and Gulf War Coalition -- are scheduled to be in attendance and to make a presentation to the committee during the public comment period.

Highlights from the 2010 IOM report, and the new committee's statement of task, membership roster, and agenda for this session are below.







Statement of Task

An ad hoc committee under the auspices of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) will comprehensively review, evaluate, and summarize the available scientific and medical literature regarding health effects in the 1990-1991 Gulf War veterans.  The committee will pay particular attention to neurological disorders (e.g., Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and Migraines), cancer (especially brain cancer and lung cancer), and chronic multisystem illness. The proposed study will update earlier IOM reviews on Gulf War and Health, and this volume (Volume 10) will update the literature since the publication of the 2006 (Volume 4) and 2010 (Volume 8) Gulf War and Health reports.

A note to attendees

This meeting is being held to gather information to help the committee conduct its study. This committee will examine the information and material obtained during this, and other public meetings, in an effort to inform its work. Although opinions may be stated and lively discussion may ensue, no conclusions are being drawn at this time; no recommendations will be made. In fact, the committee will deliberate thoroughly before writing its draft report. Moreover, once the draft report is written, it must go through a rigorous review by experts who are anonymous to the committee, and the committee then must respond to this review with appropriate revisions that adequately satisfy the Academy's Report Review committee and the chair of the NRC before it is considered an NRC report. Therefore, observers who draw conclusions about the committee's work based on today's discussions will be doing so prematurely.
Furthermore, individual committee members often engage in discussion and questioning for the specific purpose of probing an issue and sharpening an argument. The comments of any given committee member may not necessarily reflect the position he or she may actually hold on the subject under discussion, to say nothing of that person's future position as it may evolve in the course of the project Any inference about an individual's position regarding findings or recommendations in the final report are therefore also premature.


Committee Roster

Deborah Cory-Slechta, PhD (Chair)
Department of Environmental Medicine
School of Medicine and Dentistry
University of Rochester

Robert H. Brown, Jr., MD
Chair and Professor of Neurology
University of Massachusetts Medical School

Alberto Caban-Martinez, DO, PhD
University of Miami Health System

Ellen A. Eisen, ScD
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley

Javier Escobar, MD
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

Scott Fishman, MD
UC Davis Medical Group

Mary Fox, PhD
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins University

Nancy Fugate-Woods, PhD
School of Nursing
University of Washington

Herman Gibb, PhD
Gibb Epidemiology Consulting, LLC

Clifford Jack, MD
Professor of Radiology, Diagnostic Radiology
Mayo Clinic

Howard Kipen, MD, PhD
Clinical Research and Occupational Medicine Division
UMDNJ - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Kenneth W. Kizer, MD
University of California Davis
School of Medicine
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing
Institute for Population Health Improvement
UC Davis Health System

Joel Kramer, PsyD
University of California, San Francisco

Francine Laden, PhD
Harvard School of Public Health

James M. Noble, MD
Columbia University Medical Center

Anbesaw Selassie, DrPH
Department of Public Health Sciences
Medical University of South Carolina


Gulf War and Health Vol. 10: Update 2014
December 3-4, 2014, Meeting 1

National Academies Building, Room 125
 2101 Constitution Ave., NW


1:00–1:10          Welcome and Introductions
                          Deborah Cory-Slechta, Ph.D., Committee Chair

1:10–2:00          Charge to the Committee and discussion
R. Loren Erickson, M.D., Dr.PH – Director, Pre-9/11 Era Environmental Health Program, Department of Veterans Affairs

2:00–3:00          Update on VA longitudinal study
Robert Bossarte, Ph.D., Director, Epidemiology Program, Department of Veterans           Affairs

3:00–3:15        Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses
                        Roberta White, Scientific Director, RAC           

3:15–4:00          Open microphone for public comments
                          Limited to approximately 10 minutes per person

4:00                   Open Session Ends

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