About the Program
The Portland VAMC has a large, well-funded research and development program including studies in —
The Portland VA Medical Center's National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR) was established in 1997, and is currently one of fourteen Centers of Excellence funded by the VA Rehabilitation Research and Development (RR&D) Service. It is the only such center dedicated to the discovery and delivery of cutting-edge solutions to auditory system impairments. The NCRAR is also unique among auditory research facilities because of its focus on the rehabilitation of auditory dysfunction and translation of research findings into practice. The Center uses a multi-disciplinary approach that includes both basic and clinical research components to bring diverse perspectives and solutions to common auditory problems. We carry out clinical trials, develop technologies, and plan an important role in cultivating the next generation of auditory researchers through education and mentoring programs.
The Portland VA currently has approximately 90 funded investigators and a research budget in fiscal year 2008 that exceeded $32 million in direct costs. The Portland VA currently ranks in the top 10 nationwide among VA Medical Centers in grant support from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Research is conducted in a total of ~92,000 square feet of wet and dry lab space that supports programs in basic science, clinical research, health services, cooperative studies, epidemiology and outcomes research.
Investigator-initiated independent research programs represent the majority of research activities at the Portland VA. The established research programs reflect the special needs and interests of veterans treated at this medical center. The Portland VA has been fortunate to receive several large grants that reflect the critical mass of scientists who have assembled here to investigate important diseases. Currently funded centers include:
NIH-funded Portland Alcohol Research Center (PARC)
Scientists here are among leaders in the quest to tease out the complex interplay between heredity and alcoholism, tracking down genes that may either increase or decrease risk.
NIH-funded Cancer Center
With affiliate OHSU the Portland VA dedicated its newest research building, the Northwest Veterans Affairs Cancer Research Center in 1999. This facility houses joint projects of the Portland VA and OHSU, many of them on the frontiers of research to forge an entirely new generation of cancer treatments “smart bombs” that target only cellular abnormalities underlying cancers, sparing normal tissue that can be damaged by radiation and standard chemotherapy.
National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR)
People are often surprised to learn that the most common service-connected disability—affecting an estimated 300,000 veterans—is hearing loss. This is the only center in the VA dedicated to addressing the needs of veterans with hearing loss and tinnitus, the mysterious ringing in the ears suffered by millions of Americans.
Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC)
A collaboration with the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, this center focuses on understanding basic mechanisms, developing better treatments and improving health services for post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia—two devastating problems common among our nation’s veterans.
Research Enhancement Awards Program in Multiple Sclerosis
This group is seeking new weapons against multiple sclerosis, a disabling disorder affecting some 350,000 Americans. A recent study found that a combination treatment of estrogen and a vaccine developed by the Portland team could prevent a similar disease in female mice—a finding the researchers hope to translate to humans.
Parkinson's Disease Research Education and Clinical Center (PADRECC)
Parkinson’s Disease Research Education and Clinical Center. The Portland VA gained a special center when it was named one of six new VA centers specializing in Parkinson’s disease, a debilitating neurological disorder that afflicts 1.5 million Americans. Research projects will include studies to determine whether deep brain stimulation can reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, to find ways of regenerating brain cells damaged by the disorder, and to sort out the cause of Parkinson’s-associated cognitive problems.
Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence
A joint venture with the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System, this Center will address the healthcare needs of veterans with multiple sclerosis. Research will focus on pre-clinical studies with novel therapies using animal models as well as clinical trials to translate basic science advances to the bedside.
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Resource Center
This center will promote state of the art treatment, evaluation and research to treat the hepatitis C virus. It is also a joint venture with the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System. A special emphasis will be to improve screening and access to care for veterans with both HCV and psychiatric illness.
NIH-funded Methamphetamine Abuse Research Center (MARC)
This center will focus on understanding the mechanisms and genetics of methamphetamine addiction. Planned studies include clinical trials, receptor analysis using in vitro methods, animal modeling, and genetic associations.
Portland Center for the Study of Chronic, Comorbid Mental and Physical Disorders
A VA funded HSR&D research enhancement award program (REAP) to the examination of patients with both psychiatric and physical disorders. The Portland VAMC HSR&D investigatory group has strengths in several areas including studies of collaborative care for pain and depression, decision-making, colorectal cancer screening and implementation, chronic disease management, prevention and epidemiology, health literacy, cultural competence, end-of-life care, assessment and outcomes of depression in dialysis patients, co-occurring depression and alcohol use disorders, health service utilization in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychiatric comorbidity in hepatitis C, and quality of care and outcomes for acute coronary disease.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Evidence Based Practice Center
This center reviews all relevant scientific literature on selected medical topics and conducts additional analyses when appropriate.
The Portland VA benefits greatly from its strong affiliation with Oregon Health & Science University. Research collaborations between the two institutions are greatly enhanced by a sky bridge that connects the VA with the university. Core facilities located within the VA include flow cytometry with cell sorting capability, pathology and tissue procurement, laser dissection microscopy, confocal microscopy, and molecular biology. Additional core facilities housed at OHSU and fully accessible by VA investigators includes the gene array and biostatistical support cores.