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Higgins: Over $2.4 million in federal funding for research at Buffalo VA Medical Center


Fri, Apr 26th 2019 06:35 pm

3 studies aim to improve veteran treatment, health and care

Congressman Brian Higgins was joined by VA Western New York Healthcare System Executive Director Michael J. Swartz and Associate Chief of Staff for research and professor of medicine, anesthesiology and environmental health at the University of Buffalo Dr. Ali El-solh, to announce federal grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs supporting three separate research projects at the Buffalo VA Medical Center. The three grants represent a total of $2,413,635 in funding awarded to the Buffalo VA.

The first grant, titled "Enhanced Problem-Solving Training (E-PST) to Improve Recovery from mTBI,” is awarded to Dr. Paul King, a clinical research psychologist from the VA Center for Integrated Healthcare at the VA WNY, and adjunct assistant professor at the University at Buffalo’s department of counseling, school, and educational psychology. Funding in the amount of $824,011 will support a five-year pilot program dedicated to developing and testing a skills-focused behavioral treatment for veterans with history of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI, also known as concussion). This type of treatment is intended to reduce psychological distress in combat veterans who have experienced a mTBI via a primary care-based intervention.

The second grant awards $1,389,635 over a five years period for research led by Dr. Jennifer Lang, a cardiologist and assistant professor at the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The project, titled "The Functional Role of Exosomes in Stem Cell Mediated Cardiac Repair," will focus on heart disease, which remains the leading cause of mortality in America. The research seeks to identify ways to simulate heart muscle regeneration. Treatment discoveries are aimed at helping veterans afflicted by cardiac disease including heart failure and myocardial infarction.

Dr. Bruce Troen, who has been a VA physician-investigator for 30 years, is the chief of the division of geriatrics and palliative medicine, and the director of both the Center for Successful Aging and the Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease at the University at Buffalo. He will be overseeing two grants that seek to study the impacts of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with aging. The first is an award for $200,000 titled "Enhancing functional capacity in older adults with short session high intensity interval training,” which studies how HIIT can prevent frailty as a clinical condition in individuals aged 65-85.

“One of my main goals as both a geriatrician and geroscience investigator is to prevent and reverse the adverse changes that occur with aging and age-related diseases,” Troen said. “Maintain a high level of function and quality of life as long as possible – in other words, to enhance health span as we age.”

Higgins said, “These federal grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs will provide essential resources toward projects that improve our treatment of veterans. Advancing our understanding and treatments of conditions like clinical frailty, mild traumatic brain injury and cardiac disease is critical in furthering the goal of giving our veterans the care that they deserve.”

“The Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the nation's leaders in health research,” Swartz said. “These grants will support important VA research, adding to advancements in health care for veterans and other Americans.”

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