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Research Update: WRIISC’s Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits Center of Excellence

Military Exposures & Your Health: Information for Veterans who servedthe gulf war era and their families

Over 10 years ago, the New Jersey War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) first published a research paper reporting deployment-related health and exposure concerns among Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Veterans referred for clinical evaluation (see the study). Since that time, the New Jersey WRIISC has published over 20 peer-reviewed manuscripts, presented more than 20 conference abstracts, and delivered more than a dozen invited lectures regarding airborne hazards. The New Jersey WRIISC has received multiple VA and Department of Defense (DoD) research awards and recently was designated as the site for the Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits Center of Excellence (AHBPCE).

The AHBPCE research program continues to draw from its expert clinical experience in airborne hazards to develop testable research questions in collaboration with academic (Rutgers, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Michigan, and Ohio State University) and federal (Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Joint Pathology Center) collaborators. Listed below are two examples of current AHBPCE research:

Blast Study: Among registrants of the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, AHBPCE researchers saw a relationship between blast exposure during deployment and cardiopulmonary symptoms (see the study). To understand this relationship, the research team collaborated with investigators from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to prepare a research project that was recently awarded to investigate both the mechanisms (animal) and clinical sequelae (human) of exposure to blast overpressure waves.

Pulmonary Vascular Project: Researchers noticed a consistent pulmonary function pattern among Veterans referred to the AHBPCE (see the study) that might be suggestive of pulmonary vascular dysfunction. In a VA-supported project, AHBPCE researchers are now exploring this problem in greater depth to better understand how the pulmonary vascular system functions during exercise stress, with an emphasis on observing the right side of the heart. This study will also evaluate new ways to assess pulmonary gas-exchange and understand the peripheral vascular system (veins and arteries in the limbs).

Stay tuned for more research updates from the AHBPCE and WRIISC team. Read more about AHBPCE.

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