Million Veteran Program to Help Millions by Studying How Genes Affect Health


Copyright 2012 - Kris Heeter, Ph.D.

Million Veteran Program (MVP) was launched in 2011 as a one of a kind initiative to build the largest medical and genetic database to date. It promises to help researchers and medical professionals better understand how genetic changes affect health.

This program is being conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research & Development. The goal of MVP is to anonymously collect and store the medical histories and blood samples from 1 million U.S. veterans on a volunteer basis to help advance research on diseases like diabetes and cancer, and military-related illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The MVP database and the related discoveries hold the promise for advancement in personalized medicine and it is expected to lead to more effective treatments, reduce medical costs, and create more programs that emphasize disease prevention.

"MVP is a truly historic effort, in terms of both VA research and medical research in general. Veterans nationwide are helping to create a database that has the potential to help millions around the country – Veteran and non-Veteran alike. They are continuing to serve the nation well beyond the time they stopped wearing the uniform.”

- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

A comprehensive medical database

The MVP seeks to create the most comprehensive medical databases in the world.

A collection of standard clinical laboratory tests and genetic tests of volunteer veterans allows the VA to track and assess patterns of depression, PTSD, suicide and suicide screenings, alcohol and substance abuse, traumatic brain injury, diabetes, cancer rates, and more. The program pairs this medical information with the genetic information gathered from blood samples from U.S. veterans.

With this massive database, researchers will better understand why some people are more responsive to certain drugs and treatments. The long-term goal is to use this information to advance the field of personalized medicine for both veterans and non-veterans alike. The future of medical care will be based on people’s individual genetic profiles.

Veteran information on volunteering

Data collected through the Million Veteran Program is stored anonymously. To date, more than 110,000 veterans have volunteered for this program.

There are numerous VA centers throughout the U.S. where veterans can volunteer:

  • Albany, New York
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Bay Pines, Florida
  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Buffalo, New York
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Durham, North Carolina
  • Gainesville, Florida
  • Houston, Texas
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Leavenworth, Kansas
  • Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Long Beach, California
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Manhattan, New York
  • Miami, Florida
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Palo Alto, California
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Salisbury, North Carolina
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • San Diego, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Temple, Texas
  • Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • Washington, District of Columbia
  • West Haven, Connecticut

Information on how to enroll in the program in these cities can be found through the VA on the their Million Veteran Program website.

Future directions

The MVP continues to enroll volunteers at VA clinics in the cities mentioned above and the database continues to grow and be studied.

The Million Veteran Project and similar genetic database programs like the 1000 Genomes Project open the door for scientists to identify new genetic variants that underlie common diseases. These projects are helping researchers better understand both the genetics of disease and the gene-environment (lifestyle) interactions that lead to disease.

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Comments 11 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Very interesting, Kris! I've never heard of it but I like it!

Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

@billybuc - I hope that this program will eventually lead to some much needed answers and insights to PSTD and other health problems our veterans are facing. I have a friend who lost her 25 year old son to a very aggressive form cancer within two years after he returned from the Middle East and there were speculations that it was caused or triggered by something he was exposed to there.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Kris...I am familiar with MVP, as it is one of the Veteran-related charities I make contributions to, usually bi-annually. And YES, I'm extremely cautious as to the organizations/Agencies I send donations to. I'm well-aware of the the existing scam artists, currently under scrutiny and investigation....Hope they nail those creeps for using our military as a front for their crimes!!

You have given complete and thoroughly accurate & useful info, Kris. It is a very vital and worthy cause. Thank you for sharing this with your readers!...UP+++ and sharing.

Bopi-Cheppu profile image

Bopi-Cheppu 4 years ago from San Antonio, TX, U.S.A

Kris Heeter, This is a very interesting hub for me. I think this program has to be extended for active military personals also. For instance, if soldiers are wounded in the battlefield they can receive immediate and effective treatments instantly based on their genetic make up. I am not sure, already such program exist.

Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

@fpherj48 - thanks for adding to the discussion and I'm glad to know that you've heard of the program and that the word is spreading!

Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

@Bopi-Cheppu - I wonder if that extension is in the works. I agree that it would be helpful. I'll post updates as I find them.

eHealer profile image

eHealer 4 years ago from Las Vegas

Hey Kris, this is a fascinating hub and great info! I had no idea this existed and will research this program further for my own information. Great hub, thanks! You are pinned and facebooked!!!

Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

@eHealer - thanks for posting the links!

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

What a wonderful program to learn about disease and conditions..I have never heard of this.. Of course I learn a lot on hubpages.

Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

@caroll777 - I'm glad you were able to learn something here! Hope you have a wonderful New Year:)

dilipchandra12 profile image

dilipchandra12 4 years ago from India

Good Hub, i like it. Thanks for the above good read.

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