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VA Medical Center announces research Merit Review award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Contact:  Debbie Brammer, Public Affairs Officer, Huntington VA Medical Center, 304-429-6741 x2518

VA Medical Center announces research Merit Review award

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The Huntington Veterans Affairs Medical Center announced today that it has been awarded a $650,000 Merit Review grant by the VA Office of Research and Development, Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development Service.

In collaboration with Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, the grant will go to fund research to determine the cause of diarrhea, the most important and disabling system of conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Diarrhea is one of the most common causes of disability of U.S. veterans serving overseas.

Uma Sundaram, M.D., a gastroenterologist and vice dean for research and graduate education at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine is principal investigator of the grant and will lead the study. Sundaram is an experienced researcher with a long history of National Institutes of Health funding to study the causes of malnutrition and diarrhea in IBD.

IBD includes conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which effects about 3 million patients in the United States. Among the nation’s veterans, the prevalence of these conditions increased two- to three-fold between 1998 and 2009. There is a high rate of IBD among Gulf War veterans.

“West Virginia has one of the highest number of armed service personnel in this country. It’s been my privilege to take care of veterans at the VAMC and at Marshall,” Sundaram said. “Research is critical for us to help as many veterans as possible with conditions such as IBD because current treatments for IBD are suboptimal and fraught with many side effects.”

The goal of the project is to more specifically determine how the body’s immune system affects intestinal absorption and secretion in IBD so that more specific and effective treatments can be developed, Sundaram said.  

This Merit Review grant is the first such award the Huntington VAMC has received in more than two decades.

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Date Posted: Thursday, June 15, 2017