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Salem VA Research & Development - Best Kept Secret

VA Research and Development is one of the three legs of the “stool” that comprises the Veterans Health Administration, in addition to patient care and education.

In fact, in 2016 VA Research received $622 million to support development of cutting-edge medical treatments for Veterans and the nation.

In May, VA Research and Development will officially celebrate its 91st year and has compiled a long history of significant successes dating back to development of the first hospital-based medical studies in 1925. Other notable successes include the implantable cardiac pacemaker in 1960, the first long-term, successful kidney transplant in 1962, a transdermal nicotine patch in 1984, VA researchers find that deep brain stimulation may hold significant benefits for those with Parkinson’s disease in 2009, and VA researchers developed an artificial lung prototype that mimics the structure of a natural lung considered a “significant step toward creating the first truly portable and implantable artificial lung systems” in 2011.

The success of VA Research and Development can be attributed to the unique benefit of having more than 60 percent of its VA researchers also serving in clinics, actively engaged in treating patients.

This multi-versatile approach affords them the best of both worlds – theoretical and practical. Additionally, the use of electronic health records and a dedicated Veteran population committed to volunteering for research studies that advance the medical field have helped propel VA Research and Development to the forefront of the medical community.

Locally, the Salem VA Research and Development Program facilitates more than 60 projects, ranging from unfunded investigator-initiated research to projects funded by VA, pharmaceuticals, and foundations.

“The Salem VA has been an integral part of innovation in the medical field and health care through its participation in VA national research projects. We have had multicenter national trials in different fields of medicine including mental health, cardiology, medicine, endocrinology, and geriatrics,” explained Dr. Mamta Sapra, Acting Associate Chief of Staff for Research.

Another essential element of Salem VA Research and Development is the non-profit Salem Research Institute (SRI), which is celebrating 25 years of supporting VA’s research and education activities.

“SRI brings in research opportunities from many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies and foundations to benefit the veteran population. Currently, we are participating in medical studies in fields such as Endocrine and Cardiology; and Mental Health studies such as Alzheimers-related research and others,” said Frances Hickman, SRI Executive Director.

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