Public Release: 

$3 Million From Defense Department Will Fund Next Phase Of UT Southwestern's Gulf War Syndrome Research

UT Southwestern Medical Center

DALLAS ‹ October 3, 1997 ‹ UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas has received $3 million from the Department of Defense for research that will lead to testing and treatment for veterans suffering from what has been termed Gulf War syndrome.

The research will expand on UT Southwestern findings that some Gulf War veterans suffer from three syndromes caused by chemical poisoning (published in the Jan. 15, 1997, Journal of the American Medical Association) and that the veterans do not suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychological problems (published in the August 1997 Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology).

The $3 million will allow UT Southwestern researchers, assisted by the Defense Department and North Carolina-based Research Triangle Institute, to use sensitive clinical tests to evaluate more ill and well Gulf War veterans for neurological damage and to design a national survey to determine how many Gulf War veterans need treatment.

"This is the logical and crucial next phase to meet the goals of our research," said Dr. Robert Haley, UT Southwestern's chief of epidemiology and leader of the medical center's Gulf War illness research. "We need to determine the prevalence of neurotoxic poisoning among Gulf War veterans while we develop a cost-effective screening test and identify treatments for the sick veterans."

The agreement between UT Southwestern and the Defense Department provides initial federal funding for the study. As results of UT Southwestern's studies and further phases of the research are reviewed by government scientists and external peer panels, UT Southwestern will seek additional funding to cover the cost of developing diagnostic tests and identifying and evaluating potential treatments.

The UT Southwestern team has concluded that some veterans are suffering from brain and nerve damage linked to exposure to combinations of toxic chemicals.

"There is no cure for nerve damage," Haley said. "But just as we treat but cannot cure diabetes, we believe we can find treatments to allow these Gulf War veterans to live more comfortable and productive lives."

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