Dr. Sumitra Muralidhar: August 18, 2016

Million Veteran Program (MVP) Signs Up 500K Veterans to study How Genes Affect Health

MVP Aims To Be One of the Largest Databases of its Kind in the World

Dr.-Sumitra-Muralidhar

Dr. Sumitra (Suma) Muralidhar

Program Director, Million Veteran Program

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has reached the halfway mark in collecting DNA samples and health data from 1 million Veterans in the Million Veteran Program (MVP). MVP was launched in 2011 and is now the largest database in the U.S. of health and genomic information. It links genetic, clinical, lifestyle, and military-exposure information to help researchers learn about the role of genes in health and disease. A cornerstone of VA’s efforts to improve Veterans’ health, MVP has also become part of the White House’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which aims to improve health care for all Americans by individualizing treatment. The program also has historical data on various health conditions that are common in Veterans. For example, some 62 percent of MVP enrollees report a current or past diagnosis of high blood pressure, and about a third report tinnitus. Also, nearly a third—32 percent—report a history or current diagnosis of cancer. For that reason, MVP is expected to play a key role in the National Cancer Moonshot initiative, announced by President Obama earlier this year.

Research findings based on MVP may lead to new ways of preventing and treating illnesses in Veterans. Such findings may help answer questions like “Why does a treatment work well for some Veterans but not for others?”; “Why are some Veterans at a greater risk for developing an illness?” and “How can we prevent certain illnesses in the first place?” With the expected enrollment of one million Veterans over the next four years, MVP aims to be one of the largest databases of its kind in the world.

Dr. Sumitra (Suma) Muralidhar, Program Director of the Million Veteran Program from the VA is available for you and your listeners on Thursday, August 18, to discuss MVP and how genes affect health.

More About Dr. Sumitra (Suma) Muralidhar:

Dr. Muralidhar has worked at the VHA Office of Research and Development (ORD) for over sixteen years in various scientific program management roles, including VA’s Genomic Medicine Program.  For the past ten years, she has played a leading role in the development and implementation of the Million Veteran Program, to establish one of the world’s largest databases to study the interplay between genes, lifestyle, military exposure and health. She serves as the Designated Federal Officer for VA’s Genomic Medicine Program Advisory Committee, A FACA panel of national experts advising the VA Secretary on genomic medicine/precision medicine. Currently, she serves as the Program Director for the Million Veteran Program and ORD’s liaison to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for the Precision Medicine Initiative. In 2005-2006, Dr. Muralidhar served as Health and Science Advisor to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Prior to joining the VA, she was an Associate Professor at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Georgetown University.

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