Government and Regulations

Findings From the Veteran Health Data Bank

The Million Veteran Program brings precision medicine closer than ever.


 

The Million Veteran Program (MVP)—a “mega-biobank”—began enrolling volunteers in 2011, and the program is going strong. As of 2015, 50 recruiting sites and nearly 400,000 veterans had enrolled.

For genomic and other sampling, the Million Veteran Program gathers information via questionnaires, the VA electronic health record, and blood samples from volunteers.

Researchers who conducted a study of the observational, longitudinal program say the strengths of the MVP lie in that it is a VHA program that includes more than 100 research-ready medical centers, a state -of-the-art biorepository, and the “altruistic veteran population.” Most of the health care experiences of the veterans who use the VHA already have been captured electronically for many years.

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So what have researchers learned so far? Of the 20 most common self-reported conditions among 224,610 veterans, the top 5 are hypertension (63%), hyperlipidemia (57%), gastroesophageal reflux disease (34%), tinnitus (32%), and hearing loss (31%).

A “linked but separate” ongoing project of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder enrolled more than 9,500 case patients, who will be matched with control patients from MVP. An intra-MVP study of posttraumatic stress disorder is also under way.

Although attempts to assemble large cohorts don’t always succeed, the feasibility of MVP has been confirmed by progress to date, and plans are ongoing to expand enrollment using web-based strategies, say researchers. They predict the program’s potential includes using the genomic studies as an evidence base for precision medicine in the future.

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