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Seattle Epidemiologic Research and Information Center (ERIC)

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Selected Vietnam-Era Registry Research Studies

For questions regarding studies, please contact the VET Registry toll-free at 1-866-774-9647.

VETSA 3: The VETSA Longitudinal Twin Study of Cognition and Aging (VETSA 3 Aging) & The VETSA Longitudinal MRI Twin Study of Aging (VETSA 3 MRI)
The goal of VETSA is to follow twins throughout their lives, contacting them every 5 years to learn about genetic (nature) and environmental (nurture) factors that influence the aging process. The VETSA magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies are linked to the main VETSA project, and focus on the brain and how it changes as people age. Recruitment for wave 3 of VETSA started in Winter 2015; in most cases, members will be contacted about 5 to 6 years since they last participated in VETSA 2. For more information about the VETSA studies, please visit their website: http://www.vetsatwins.org/.

Principal Investigators: Dr. William Kremen (UC San Diego)
Funding Agency: NIH-NIA (VETR Study ID#s: VETR14C03 & VETR14C06)

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PTSD and Ischemic Heart Disease Progression: A Longitudinal Twin Study
This project is following up with middle-aged male twin pairs about 10 years after their initial, baseline visit for an earlier phase of the study. The purpose is to examine the link between PTSD and ischemic heart disease (IHD). Recruitment for this phase started in Winter 2015, and data collection has begun.

Principal Investigators: Dr. Viola Vaccarino (Emory University)
Funding Agency: NIH (VETR Study ID#s: VETR14C05)

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A Twin Study of the Course and Consequences of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Vietnam Era Veterans (Cooperative Studies Program #569)
The goal of this study is to better understand the physical and mental health of Veterans as they grow older. This two phase data collection recruited from all twin members of the VET Registry, and included a 21-page mail survey (first phase) and a semi-structured psychiatric telephone interview and collection of information on the diagnoses of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse (second phase). This study will help researchers understand how aging affects general health, disability, diabetes, PTSD, depression, and other issues. This information will assist the VA in designing programs for prevention and treatment of the health problems of aging Veterans.

Principal Investigators: Drs. Jack Goldberg (University of Washington) and Kathy Magruder (Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center)
Funding Agency: VA Cooperative Studies Program (VETR Study ID#: VETR0705)

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VETSA 2: A Longitudinal Study of Cognitive Aging
The goal of VETSA is to follow twins throughout their lives, contacting them every 5 years to learn about genetic (nature) and environmental (nurture) factors that influence the aging process. The VETSA magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies are linked to the main VETSA project, and focus on the brain and how it changes as people age. Over 1,200 VET Registry twins have participated in the ongoing VETSA 2 follow-up study, and plans are being made for the VETSA 3 follow-up proposal.

Principal Investigators: Drs. William Kremen (UC San Diego) and Michael Lyons (Boston University)
Funding Agency: NIH-NIA (VETR Study ID#s: VETR 0106 )

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Family Studies of Health and Behavior
Studies at the VA in Palo Alto, CA focus on the mental and physical health of Veterans and their families with an interest in determining how genes and experiences affect smoking, drinking, drug use, and depression. In one study, twins are being followed throughout their adult years to determine how their drinking habits change as they age. Another study focuses on adult children of twins to determine similarities and differences in health patterns across the generations. It is hoped these studies will help clinicians design prevention and treatment programs.

At Washington University, the Transition to Adulthood Project (TAP) began collecting data from Registry twin fathers and their families in 2002 and is currently conducting follow-up interviews with the adult children of twins. The TAP team is measuring young adult milestones, like marriage and parenthood, completion of education, occupation, and job satisfaction. The team will examine how these milestones relate to health, especially in the areas of mood and the use of alcohols, tobacco, and drugs.

Principal Investigators: Drs. Theodore Jacob (Palo Alto VA) and Kathleen Bucholz (Washington University)
Funding Agency: NIH-NIAA (VETR Study ID#: VETR1104) and VA Merit Review and NIH-NIAAA (VETR Study ID#: VETR0105) for Palo Alto VA studies; NIH-NIDA (VETR Study ID#: VETR0505) for Washington University studies

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Twin Heart Study 2: Mechanisms Linking Depression to Cardiovascular Risk
The objective of the THS-2 study is to better describe the role of emotional depression on heart disease. Eighty pairs of twins who had already participated in an earlier phase of this study, have been invited to participate. This new study will look at how heart disease progresses and the relationship between the depression and heart disease.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Viola Vaccarino (Emory University)
Funding Agency: NIH-NHLBI (VETR Study ID#: VETR0209)

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Biological Markers for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (T3)
This study is using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the brain function in identical twin pairs, in which only one twin was exposed to combat during the Vietnam War. Twin pairs who may have already participated in the earlier two waves of this study were invited to participate. The goal of this study is to determine the origin of functional brain abnormalities in PTSD.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Lisa Shin (Massachusetts General Hospital)
Funding Agency: NIH-NIMH (VETR Study ID#: VETR0207)

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Memory and the Hippocampus in Vietnam-era Twins with PTSD (Time 3)
The purpose of this study is to look at an area of the brain involved in learning and memory (called the hippocampus) over time and see how it relates to twins who were exposed to combat and are diagnosed with PTSD. Twin pairs who may have already participated in the earlier two waves of this study were invited to participate. The study includes an in-depth clinical evaluation involving interviews, questionnaires, memory tests, laboratory testing, and brain imaging.

Principal Investigator: Dr. J. Douglas Bremner (Emory University)
Funding Agency: VA Merit Review (VETR Study ID#: VETR0307)

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Summary of Past Full Registry Data Collection Projects

The twin identification process from military records took approximately 3 years from 1983-1986. The research initiatives outlined below have attempted to collect information from all twins in the VET Registry. For more information regarding any of the data available from the below data collections, please contact the VET Registry toll free at1-866-774-9647. To see descriptions of the surveys with links to copies of the survey instruments, click here.

     1.   1983-1986: Registry Construction ~ Military Records
           Type of study: Record abstracts
           Number participated: 14,738
           Complete pairs: 7,369

    2.   1987: Survey of Health 
          Type of study: Mail/telephone follow-up
          Number participated: 10,979
          Complete pairs: 4,774

    3.   1991: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Survey 
          Type of study: Mail/telephone follow-up
          Number participated: 8,169
          Complete pairs: 3,698

    4.   1993: Harvard Twin Study of Substance Abuse
          Type of study: Telephone
          Number participated: 10,979
          Complete pairs: 3,698

    5.   1999: Male Health Survey 
          Type of study: Mail
          Number participated: 5,349
          Complete pairs: 1,615