Gulf War Illness Research

Mission Statement

Since 1994 the mission of our research program on Gulf War illness has been to bring the best approaches of modern medical science to bear on the neurologic illness affecting U.S. veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Our goal is to understand the illness and develop objective diagnostic tests and treatments to cure or relieve its symptoms and disability. The success of the mission requires that we publish the results in prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journals to ensure the scientific integrity of each step of the research. Integral to the mission has been to adapt the latest medical technology and to invent new theory and technology necessary to gain novel insights into a most complex and difficult-to-study brain illness.

Accomplishments Toward the Mission

Over the approximately 20 years of research toward this mission, we have conducted intensive investigations along a broad front to gain insights into the causes and the biological mechanisms of Gulf War illness so as to produce an efficient diagnostic test and treatment designed from a deep understanding of the disease. The investigations have unfolded in a series of nine phases, each building on the findings of the phases before. This approach has led to a gradual peeling back of the mystery that initially enshrouded the illness and promises to create understanding of it as a chronic neurotoxic encephalopathy with an accepted diagnostic test and treatment. 

Phase I. Initial exploratory studies to identify productive research directions (1994–1997)

Phase II. Application of more sophisticated medical testing (19972001)

Phase III. Developed new testing technology to allow further progress in research into subtle multisymptom illness (20012007)

Phase IV. Pilot studies in the Seabees sample to validate the new technology (20072008)

Phase V. Confirmatory studies applying the novel technology to a representative sample of Gulf War-era veterans (20072015)

Phase VI. Genomic studies (20092015)

Phase VII. Advanced studies on the causes of Gulf War illness (19952013)

Phase VIII. Preclinical studies of the effects of cholinesterase-inhibiting chemicals on the brain in a laboratory rodent model of Gulf War illness (20092010)

Phase IX. Funded studies currently in progress

Proposed Studies

Reviews & Commentaries