The Veterans Health Research Program of the Baylor Institute of Biomedical Studies is conducting research on the long-term health effects of military service in the 1990-1991 Gulf War.

The 1990-1991 Gulf War was among the most impressive combat operations in modern history. Despite the brevity of the war and its successful outcome, many U.S. troops returned home reporting difficult, unexplained health symptoms. This complex of chronic symptoms, once labeled Gulf War Syndrome by the media, is now more commonly known as Gulf War illness. Gulf War illness affects at least one in four of the nearly 700,000 troops who served and few veterans have recovered in the 22 years since the war.

Scientific studies indicate that Gulf War illness is not a psychiatric condition and cannot be attributed to wartime stress, pointing instead to a number of deployment-related exposures as likely causes or contributors. Research has identified neurological, immune, and other biological alterations in veterans with Gulf War illness, but important work remains to better understand the physiological processes that drive veterans' symptoms and to identify effective treatments.

Current Studies
Baylor's Veterans Health Research Program, under the direction of epidemiologist Dr. Lea Steele of the Baylor Institute of Biomedical Studies, includes multiple projects conducted in conjunction with regional and national collaborators.

Current Baylor projects include:

  • Diverse Biological Indicators in Gulf War Illness: Are They Replicable?
    Are They Related?

    This project is assessing a broad range of previously reported and innovative biological measures, including brain imaging and tests of immune and adrenal function, to clarify the biological processes that differentiate veterans with Gulf War illness from healthy veterans.
  • Development of a Gulf War Illness Diagnostic Panel
    The objective of this project is to develop and validate a diagnostic tool for Gulf War illness, based on multiplex evaluation of blood analytes associated with immune, inflammatory, neurological, hormonal, and hematological processes potentially associated with this condition.
  • 91Vet Net: An Information and Research Resource for Veterans and Investigators
    This project will survey a national sample of 1990-1991 Gulf War era veterans to provide current information on health symptoms and diagnosed medical conditions. It will also establish 91VetNet, a national resource for veterans interested in receiving current information relevant to military service in 1990-1991 and/or participating in health studies.

Multisite Gulf War Research Consortia
In addition to major studies underway at Baylor, our investigators are collaborating with two multiproject, multisite research consortia headquartered at Boston University and Nova Southeastern University on studies designed to improve understanding of the pathophysiology of Gulf War illness, with the goal of identifying molecular processes that can be targeted for treatment.