VA turns to genetic makeup for clues on how to successfully fight COVID-19

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 11:10 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Scientists and doctors around the world are turning to genetic research to help unlock questions about COVID-19, which has killed more than 3 million people around the world. In May 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Million Veteran Program, a national research program developed to learn how genes, lifestyle and military exposures affect health and illness, started studying how a person’s genetic makeup could play a role in responding to a COVID-19 infection.

MVP sent a COVID-19 questionnaire to more than 800,000 Veterans participating in the program to collect information about their experiences during the pandemic. VA researchers were interested in collecting and analyzing data that could help provide insights into the genetic makeup of the infection, factors that could help predict the severity of an infection and learning how genetic traits respond to COVID-19 treatments.

Dr. Suma Muralidhar is the director of MVP. She said the Department of Veterans Affairs hopes the research will answer unanswered questions about COVID-19 and identify new treatment options through the Million Veteran Program.

To learn more about the research and to take the survey to assist in research, CLICK HERE.

Dr. Muralidhar said, historically, women have been underrepresented in biological and medical research, but the MVP is working to change that. Women make up about 9% of more than 830,000 MVP enrollees. She encourages women to enroll in MVP to help ensure women aren’t left out of medical research that could potentially improve or save the lives of fellow women veterans.

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