Phase II – More Sophisticated Medical Testing (1997–2001)

A. Performed numerous neuroimaging and neurophysiologic studies in a twin pair, one an ill Gulf War veteran, to identify testing methods likely to discriminate groups of ill and well Gulf War veterans.

B. Developed the first secure website to collect data in collaborative clinical research. [References]

C. Traveled the same group of ill and well veterans to UT Southwestern Medical Center to apply more sophisticated medical tests suggested by the results of the first phase results.

  1. Quantitatively documented a serious level of disability in ill veterans on the SF-36 test compared with normal functional ability of well veterans. [References]
  2. Corroborated and extended findings of audiovestibular dysfunction. [References]
  3. Using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS scan), discovered the first chemical difference between the brains of ill and well veterans indicating damage to brain cells in deep brain regions of the ill veterans. [References]
  4. Found evidence of abnormal brain dopamine production in ill veterans. [References]
  5. Identified abnormal function of the autonomic nervous system on a test of circadian variation of high frequency heart rate variability. [References]
  6. Using SPECT imaging to measure brain response to a medicine that stimulates certain brain receptors, found the brains of ill veterans responded abnormally to the cholinergic stimulation, demonstrating damage to cholinergic receptors. [References]
  7. Identified a strong association between Gulf War illness and the “weak form” of the PON1 (paraoxonase 1) gene, which normally protects from nerve agents and pesticides. [References]

D. Recognized an unusual increase in Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic later sclerosis, ALS) in Gulf War veterans.

  1. First demonstrated that the number of new cases of ALS in Gulf War veterans was four times greater than in the civilian population of similar age distribution. [References]
  2. This finding was later corroborated by a Department of Veterans Affairs study.
  3. Resulted in VA service connection for all veterans with ALS.

Phase II-A was funded by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Ft. Detrick and the Perot Foundation; II-B was supported by local funds.