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Veterans to create world's largest medical database

NPR, November 14, 2011

The Million Veteran Program, or MVP, will build a huge database, with both medical histories and blood samples from 1 million U.S. veterans. What makes this possible is that the Department of Veterans Affairs has been keeping computerized medical records for more than two decades. This puts the VA way ahead of the curve, compared with most hospitals and doctors' offices. The VA is now turning that information into a gold mine for medical research. "Not only do we have all their clinical records — laboratory, vital signs, pharmacy database — we have annual assessments that we will do that we can track people, assessments of depression, PTSD, suicide screening, alcohol and substances, traumatic brain injury," says Jennifer Hoblyn, MD, who specializes in mental illness at the VA of Palo Alto, CA. The VA will remove the names, so the data are anonymous. Then, it will pair the records with blood samples from 1 million U.S. veterans.