Landmark partnership to advance the diagnosis and treatment of trauma-related brain disorders
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Cohen Veterans Bioscience and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs today announced a new public-private partnership for Biomarkers & Diagnostics for trauma-related brain disorders at the VA’s second annual “Brain Trust: Pathways to InnoVAtion” event in Boston.
This year alone, an estimated 1.7 million Americans will be diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, and 8 million will be diagnosed with PTSD. Yet few proven tools exist to consistently and accurately diagnose these conditions or assess if treatment is working. Cohen Veterans Bioscience and the Veterans Health Administration are spearheading the Research Alliance for PTSD/TBI Innovation and Discovery Diagnostics (RAPID-Dx). This effort will capitalize on recent advances in brain imaging, genetics and other areas that are bringing the previously unseen impact of PTSD and TBI into focus. Cohen Veterans Bioscience will lead the public-private partnership alliance to enable different institutions to coordinate efforts and integrate data across dozens of labs and leverage synergistic capabilities for a “big data” team-science approach to discover and support development of first-generation validated biomarkers and diagnostics for PTSD and TBI.
“The fastest way to help Veterans living with TBI and PTSD is to break down the traditional siloes of science and scientific resources,” said Rachel Ramoni, DMD, ScD, Chief Research & Development Officer at the Veterans Health Administration. “By joining RAPID-Dx, we are affirming our commitment to a new type of radically collaborative science defined by data sharing and coordination of efforts toward our shared goal of finding clinically useful diagnostics and treatments for these invisible wounds of war. There is no doubt in my mind that coordinated team science will accelerate progress toward diagnosis and treatments. We are thrilled to be working with Cohen Veterans Bioscience.”
PTSD and TBI are often referred to as “invisible wounds,” subtle shifts in the brain’s structure and function that can devastate a person’s mood, cognition, and mental state. Today, first-generation tests still do not exist to diagnose these conditions and make these wounds “visible.”
“With millions of veterans and civilians suffering, many of them in silence, we have a responsibility to move forward as efficiently as we can in developing better diagnostics and treatments for trauma-related brain disorders,” said Magali Haas, MD, Ph.D., CEO & President, Cohen Veterans Bioscience. “Working together with partners like the VA, we hope to shape a future of more coordinated research so that no one who experiences trauma has to suffer the effects for a lifetime.”
Trauma-related brain disorders, such as PTSD and TBI, can affect anyone who is exposed to a psychologically or physically traumatic event—including veterans, first responders, terrorist attack survivors, war refugees, and those suffering because of human trafficking and domestic abuse. Trauma-related disorders are also a major contributor to risk for suicide – a devastating outcome affecting as many as 20 veterans per day.
“While VA is uniquely positioned to contribute to the care of Veterans with traumatic brain injury, we’re able to accomplish so much more when we work strategically with our private and public sector partners. We look forward to working to improve care for Veterans — as well as all Americans — affected by brain-related injuries,” said David Shulkin, MD, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.