Two soldiers in the same trench, one develops Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the other doesn’t, Why?
We now understand that there is more to disease than just genetics; our environments play an equally important role in the manifestation of diseases. In recent times, epidemiological studies and advances in technology have equipped scientists with the tools needed to study and understand the impact of nature vs. nurture – and now we can think about using that knowledge for precision medicine.
One such large-scale study is the Million Veteran Program (MVP), a national, voluntary research program funded entirely by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research & Development. Back in October of 2013, we announced our partnership with Claritas Genomics to provide the sequencing technology for the program, the Department of Veterans Affairs aims to gather 1 million samples from those who have served. DNA from these samples is sequenced on the Ion Proton sequencing platforms, where 750,000 genetic markers are analyzed in the DNA samples. In some cases, whole genome and whole exomes are sequenced as well.
Medical and sequencing data is securely stored in a MVP handled database known as GenISIS (Genomic Information System for Integrative Science), maintaining anonymity, where scientists can combine genetic data, veteran’s health information, and electronic medical records to comprehend the underlying basis of various diseases. Researchers can use the database to understand responsiveness to various medicines and also predisposition to various diseases. The ultimate goal of the program is to not only provide insights into military-related illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, but also diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
STAT today released an in-depth profile on the program and released a beautifully produced video on the sample collection process. Take a few minutes to watch it here:
Today MVP brings in 100,000 new participants a year with the projections of reaching 1,000,000 by 2018. Such a large, massively integrated database with medical, genetic, and health information has the ability to give us detailed insights that may bring us one step closer to solving the many mysteries of various diseases that not only affect Veterans, but us all.
To participate in the Million Veteran Program or for more information please visit http://www.research.va.gov/MVP/