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VISN 20 NW MIRECC

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Northwest Mental Ilness Research, Education, and Clinical Center


Northwest MIRECC Logo



Research Objective

The Northwest Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (NW MIRECC) partners with Veteran and non-Veteran volunteers to develop and evaluate effective treatments for military PTSD and its associated conditions, including mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), substance use disorders, chronic pain, and dementia.

Clinical Research

One way that NW MIRECC investigators develop new ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent psychiatric conditions in Veterans is through the design and implementation of clinical research studies. These studies enroll volunteers in a wide range of research protocols, including cutting-edge measurements of brain structure and function (see the image) and comprehensive evaluations by brain, memory, and behavioral specialists. NW MIRECC investigators are also leaders in the performance of research lumbar punctures and in the innovative use of a common blood pressure medication (i.e., prazosin) for trauma-related nightmares, anxiety, and other behavioral symptoms that affect many Veterans with PTSD. Northwest MIRECC Logo An FDG-PET scan illustrating mTBI blast exposures.
NW MIRECC investigators use a variety of imaging methods in studies, including DTI, fcMRI, fMRI, MPF mapping, and PET.

 

 

Translational Research

Another route to identifying potential treatments for PTSD and its associated conditions is through laboratory studies that do not require the enrollment of Veterans. To that end, the nationally acclaimed NW MIRECC translational neuroscience program is a multidisciplinary research program dedicated to understanding and treating these disorders through basic discovery science and the development of innovative treatment strategies. Together, teams of clinicians and scientists work side-by-side to characterize and model the key features of these clinical problems, including the co-existing conditions of TBI and neurodegenerative disorders, and to then translate our findings from scientific theory or animal models into practical applications for Veterans.

 

In this way, laboratory findings are able to drive clinical hypothesis testing and provide new insights. NW MIRECC investigators collaborate with researchers and clinicians across the University of Washington, University of Utah, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Oregon Health and Science University, Department of Defense, and Veterans Affairs, as well as a host of academic, government, and industry partners around the world.

Check back soon for more information about NW MIRECC translational research.

News & Publications

Together, the NW MIRECC clinical and translational research programs have made important contributions to understanding PTSD, mTBI, substance use disorders, chronic pain, and dementia.

For instance, over the past two decades, our work has led to the discovery that prazosin, a medication originally used to treat high blood pressure, is very effective for treating PTSD symptoms. This medication is now prescribed to over 100,000 active-duty Servicemembers and Veterans. You can read more about prazosin, wartime brain injuries, and our current study to treat post-TBI headaches in this recent NBC article which features the director of the NW MIRECC, Dr. Murray Raskind.

Check back soon for more NW MIRECC news and an updated list of publications by NW MIRECC faculty.