Veteran Family Health Research Program
Head of Laboratory
The principle aim of the Veteran Family Health Research Program is to reduce the impact of military service on the health and wellbeing of current and past members of the armed services and their families.
The program has three objectives:
- determine the size and nature of the health impact of military service on personnel and their families, and the factors mediating this impact
- develop novel preventive and therapeutic intervention to reduce this health impact and
- understand at a mechanistic level interactions between stress and vulnerability (phenotype) in causing stress-related ill-health
Currently three projects are in progress:
- Assessment of the long-term health outcomes in a representative cohort of Australian Vietnam Veterans
- Examination of the factors mediating the occurrence of stress-related disorders in the spouses of a representative cohort of Veterans
- Investigation of the mental and physical health of the adult sons and daughters of a representative cohort of Veterans
Data collection on the long-term follow-up of Australian Vietnam Veterans is complete, and overview statistics of this data have been published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Preliminary ill-health prevalence rates in the spouses of Veterans have been published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.
Analyses of mediating factors in stress-related disorders in the spouses are currently underway.
Field work involved in interviewing the adult offspring of Veterans is in progress (NHMRC Project Grant No.1011264).
Funding is being sought to investigate the role of markers of biological vulnerability and heritable epigenetic factors in the predisposition to and causation of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
In partnership with Genetics Repositories Australia and the NSW Tissue Resource Centre, the program aspires to establish in perpetuity Australia’s first biobank for storage of clinical, post-mortem brain tissue, and genomic and epigenomic data to enable future generations of scientists to examine the biological basis of stress-related ill-health subsequent to military service.