Research and Development - VA Central California Health Care System
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VA Central California Health Care System


Research and Development

VA researchers have won Nobel Prizes, invented breakthrough technologies, and even developed the nicotine patch! Probably research is not the first thing people think of when they think about the VA.  However, research is one of the core missions of the VA, and today’s VA researchers make a lot of progress every day building on decades of world-renowned accomplishments.  It is a core mission because first and foremost VA research is all about improving the health and well-being of Veterans.  

VA research focuses on understanding and treating diseases and conditions that are unique or common among veterans, from those we associate with combat such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and loss of limbs to those also common in the general population: diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, depression and Alzheimer’s Disease.  VA research also focuses on the delivery of health care to veterans, wherever they are.  This kind of research looks at things like quality, access and patient outcomes in “real world” clinical settings.
For a long time, the VA has been committed to funding research to improve the health and well-being of Veterans. That commitment continues today.  To get some sense of the VA’s longstanding, wide-ranging and deep commitment to research consider just a few of the historical accomplishments of VA research.  
1935: Published a series of articles in the New England Journal of Medicine about heart disease among Veterans
1946: Developed and tested effective therapies for tuberculosis following World War II.  Multi-center clinical trial led to the development of the VA’s Cooperative Studies Program which continues to this today, investigating conditions such as schizophrenia, diabetes, depression, heart disease and stroke.
1958: Invented the implantable cardiac pacemaker
1970: Published the results of a landmark VA Cooperative Study on high blood pressure, showing that drug treatment was effective in controlling blood pressure and reducing major complications of high blood pressure
1977: Nobel Prize awarded to VA researchers Dr. Andrew Schally for his work on hormone production in the brain and Dr. Rosalyn Yalow for her development of radioimmunoassay techniques
1984: Developed the nicotine patch to help smokers give up smoking
1993: Developed and tested a new device that has led to improved wheelchair designs
1998: Nobel Prize awarded to VA researcher Dr. Ferid Murad for his discoveries related to nitic oxide, a body chemical that helps maintain healthy blood vessels
2000: Showed that colonoscopy was superior to sigmoidoscopy as a primary screening method for colon cancer.
2004:  Established a major center of excellence with Brown University and MIT to develop state-of-the-art prosthetics for Veteran amputees
2007: Demonstrated the benefits of prolonged-exposure therapy as a treatment for PTSD in a clinical trial that included 284 women.
2010:  As part of the VA Genomic Medicine Program, announced a groundbreaking genetics study – the Million Veteran Program (MVP) – to study the effects genes have on health, with some one million veterans expected to take part over the next several years.  MVP was launched in 2011.
2012:  Joined with the Department of Defense in funding $100 million in new research on traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder
For more information, please contact Dr. Robert Hierholzer, Research and Development Chief at 559-225-6100 extension 5871.

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Contact Info


  • Fresno Medical Center
    2615 E. Clinton Avenue
    Fresno, CA 93703

Contact Number(s)

  • 559-225-6100 Ext. 5370

Hours of Operation

  • Monday - Friday
    8:00 am - 4:30 pm