Federal government providing $2.4 million for studies at Buffalo's VA Medical Center

Apr 25, 2019

The VA Western New York Healthcare System is receiving funding from the federal government that will allow three studies to proceed at the Buffalo VA Medical Center. The researchers leading the respective projects say these will benefit not only the veterans who will receive treatment but also the wider community.

In all, more than $2.4 million is being delivered to the Buffalo VA Medical Center for these research projects. Receiving the majority of funds, nearly $1.4 million, will be a five-year study led by Dr. Jennifer Lang. The cardiologist and assistant professor at the University at Buffalo's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences says heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the US.

Congressman Brian Higgins announces more than $2.4 million for upcoming health research projects at the Buffalo VA Medical Center.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Among the problems afflicting veterans are heart failure and myocardial infarction.

"We're particularly interested in developing new therapies to treat heart disease, primarily those that do not rely on the use of cells to repopulate the heart, so that we would have a more universal therapy to treat patients when they first present with a heart attack as well as when they advance to heart failure," Dr. Lang said.

Receiving $824,011 will be a study led by Dr. Paul King, a clinical research psychologist for the VA's Center for Integrated Healthcare and an adjunct professor at UB's Department of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology. His five-year pilot program will seek to develop and test skills-focused behavioral treatments for veterans with histories of mild traumatic brain injuries.

"Concussion is a significant population health concern for our combat veterans," Dr. King said. "While most clinicians and researchers agree that the effects of a concussion typically resolve rapidly and fully, what we've observed and heard from many veterans is essentially longer-term concerns that are related to psychological distress, and also some concerns that are related to personal functioning, in terms of concentration, attention and decision making."

Dr. Bruce Troen, a VA physician-investigator for more than 30 years, will lead a study funded by a $200,000 grant that studies the impact of high-intensity interval training on older adults. The testing of short-burst exercises will be conducted on veteran patients ranging in ages between 65 and 85 years old.

"Our goal, as we move forward in the 21st Century, is not just about life span, but it's about health span. It's about functional capacity," he said. "You're never too old to benefit from exercise."

Officials at the VA in Buffalo say the research to be conducted will result in advancements not only for veterans but for many more Americans.

"In many respects, the VA has been very good to us," Dr. Troen added. "This gives us a chance to pay back."