ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Research to improve the health of the nation’s veterans, and all Americans, will soon get a boost when a large team of researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Ann Arbor Healthcare System moves to the University of Michigan campus.
The move will bring a total of 150 VA health researchers closer to their U-M colleagues, making it easier for all of them to study health issues that affect veterans and non-veterans alike, and to test new ideas for improving care in heart disease, diabetes, mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder and more.
The signing of a lease for 24,600 square feet of space at U-M’s North Campus Research Complex (NCRC) strengthens VA’s already strong ties with U-M.
Patients who receive their healthcare at the VA Ann Arbor medical center have access to over 700 VA doctors who are also faculty at the U-M Medical School. More space for patient care will be created at the VA medical center as researchers move to their new U-M location.
Almost all of the core researchers in the group that is moving -- the Ann Arbor VA Center for Clinical Management Research (CCMR) -- have joint faculty appointments at the U-M Medical School, School of Public Health or School of Nursing.
Many of the VA researchers are key members of the new U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation (IHPI), which includes more than 400 researchers from U-M and beyond. The newly leased space is in the institute’s building at NCRC.
“We’ve always worked closely with U-M, but this move will accelerate the pace of research, for the benefit of veterans and patients everywhere,” says Eve Kerr, M.D., MPH, director of the VA CCMR and a professor of internal medicine at U-M. “From improving treatment of chronic conditions to preventing suicides and enhancing hospital care, all of us are eager to make an impact on care through research.”
“With the addition of the VA team, we’re closer to our goal of creating a campus and an institute that weave university and non-university research together,” says David Canter, executive director of NCRC. “I look forward to helping IHPI grow into a national powerhouse of research on health care delivery, quality and policy.”
The VA CCMR is supported by more than $18 million in competitively awarded VA and other research funding, and is one of only 14 Centers of Excellence funded through the VA Health Services Research and Development Service in the nation.
Its researchers mine huge pools of information about VA care nationwide to look for new opportunities to improve veterans’ health care, and to study the impact of changes to care. CCMR investigators pursue research that will yield practical solutions to the most common and costly clinical management challenges in order to have the largest possible impact on veterans’ health and healthcare.
The center includes the Serious Mental Illness Treatment Resource and Evaluation Center, which has made important discoveries related to suicidal thinking and suicide among veterans, and the Diabetes Quality Enhancement Research Initiative, which studies a disease that is at epidemic levels among both veterans and non-veterans.
The move also includes researchers in several programs already jointly run by U-M and VA, including the Patient Safety Enhancement Program, the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, and the Program on Quality Improvement for Complex Chronic Conditions.
The extensive ties between U-M and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System stretch back decades, and have helped attract numerous physician-researchers to Ann Arbor.
U-M and VA also work together to train the next generation of health care providers and researchers. U-M medical residents and other aspiring health professionals receive clinical training at VA Ann Arbor medical center, and there are VA-funded research fellowships for new M.D. and Ph.D. graduates, including through U-M’s Robert Wood Johnson / VA Clinical Scholars Program.