Advancing Precision Medicine: Million Veteran Program’s Landmark Achievement

The Coral Springs Police Department is spearheading a drive to gather unwrapped, brand-new toys for disadvantaged children within the local area. This charitable initiative will run from November 15 to December 15.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Million Veteran Program (MVP) reached its goal of enrolling 1 Million Veterans last month. MVP ​​ is a landmark research initiative to understand how genes, lifestyle, and military exposures affect health and illness. As one of the world’s largest health and genetic information databases, MVP aims to improve health care for veterans through precision medicine and serves as a valuable resource for understanding the relationship between genes, lifestyle, and health.

The program was launched in 2011 and has been recruiting Veterans to participate since. MVP focuses on a wide range of medical issues including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and mental health disorders like PTSD. By studying genetic influences on these conditions, researchers hope to develop new ways to prevent and treat illnesses in veterans and the broader population.

The genetic data collected is paired with health information from participants’ VA medical records. This comprehensive dataset provides a rich resource for researchers studying complex interactions between genetics, environment, and lifestyle.

A small amount of blood is drawn from enrolled veterans and is used to process DNA tests. The DNA data, combined with the VA’s healthcare records is then combined and used by researchers. This is the largest study of its kind in the world.

The huge number of enrollees will allow researchers to analyze small genetic variations within the larger population to explore impacts on health. The program does not offer individual benefits to participants as it is a “blind” research study and all data is anonymous. It is no surprise that men and women who were willing to join the armed forces were also willing to selflessly participate in the program.

MVP is co-directed by two prominent physicians: John Concato, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., a professor of medicine at Yale University, and J. Michael Gaziano, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of medicine at Harvard University. 

Some of the research breakthroughs directly attributable to MVP include:

Height and Health Risks 

An MVP study involving 280,000 veterans revealed 127 medical conditions with risk factors linked to height. Tall individuals appear to have a reduced risk of cardiovascular problems but an increased risk for conditions like peripheral neuropathy and circulatory disorders​​.

Yogurt and Heart Health

Research on nearly 200,000 veterans in 2021 indicated that higher yogurt consumption correlates with increased levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good cholesterol,” potentially reducing heart disease risk and increasing longevity​​.

Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Outcomes:

MVP researchers discovered a link between two mutations of the APOL1 gene and increased risk of acute kidney failure in Black patients with COVID-19. This finding, based on data from over 150,000 Black veterans, is leading to new drug research targeting the APOL1 gene​​.

Genetic Links Between PTSD, TBI, and Dementia

A study found a genetic connection between PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This research highlights the importance of genetic factors in these conditions and may improve screening and treatment.

If you are a Veteran who would like to learn how you can participate in MVP, visit for more info.