VA Starts “Brain Bank” to Study PTSD: Military Connection

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By Debbie Gregory.

Every year many servicemembers return home from deployment bearing the invisible wounds of post-traumatic stress disorder. The Veterans Affairs Department (VA) has launched a program to track the progress of PTSD in veterans.

The VA, along with the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, which part of the VA, have started the first brain tissue biorepository, also known as a brain bank, to support research on the causes, progression and treatment of PTSD that affects veterans.

The national brain bank will follow the health of enrolled participants during their lifetime. Participants in the brain bank will donate their brain and other body tissue after their death. The donated tissue, along with each Veteran’s health information, will provide crucial information for use in research on PTSD and related disorders.

Despite the large number of veterans living with PTSD, knowledge and treatments related to the condition are limited. “Although we have learned a great deal about abnormalities in brain structure and function from brain imaging research, there is no substitute for looking at the neurons themselves,” said consortium director Dr. Matthew Friedman. “

The national brain bank will investigate the impact of stress, trauma and PTSD on brain tissue in order to advance the scientific knowledge of PTSD, particularly the identification of PTSD biomarkers. Participating sites are located at VA medical centers in Boston, Massachusetts, San Antonio, Texas, West Haven, Connecticut, and White River Junction, Vermont, along with the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences at Bethesda, Maryland (USUHS).

The VA’s Office of Research and Development reported that the study is open to any veteran with PTSD living in the U.S. Participants will be required to fill out surveys by mail, on the phone or online, and complete a brief test of memory and concentration. Donated neurological tissues will be collected after death.

According to the Office of Research and Development, veterans who wish to participate will need to sign consent documents, as will their next-of-kin who will have to confirm the decision to donate after death. Even after signing, former servicemembers can withdraw from the study at any time.

Veterans without PTSD can also participate in the study. The VA reported that researchers need to be able to study unaffected tissue as well to determine the impact of PTSD on the brain.

If you are interested in learning more about enrolling in the brain bank are encouraged to call its toll-free number 1-800-762-6609 or visit

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VA Starts “Brain Bank” to Study PTSD: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory