Released: October 25, 2019

VA, Defense Fund $50 Million Consortium to Study Traumatic Brain Injury

VA has partnered with the Department of Defense to fund $50 million in new research on the long-term effects on Veterans and service members of mild traumatic brain injuries, or concussions.

The funding will support a consortium including researchers and resources from more than 20 organizations, spanning VA, DoD, the National Institutes of Health, universities, and nonprofits. It is also expected to spur new public-private partnerships.

The consortium will be led by a team at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond. Lead investigator is Dr. David X. Cifu, a professor at VCU and senior TBI specialist for VA.

“VA and the Department of Defense share an urgent, ongoing commitment to better understand the long-term impact of TBI,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Through this overarching effort, we are harnessing the best work of our nation’s scientists and will lay the groundwork for meaningful progress in diagnosis and treatment.”

The new effort is known as the Long-Term Impact of Military-related Brain Injury Consortium, or LIMBIC. The reference is to the brain’s limbic system, which is affected in TBI. It helps regulate motivation, learning, and other functions.

LIMBIC extends the work of a previous collaborative effort known as the Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium, or CENC, also led by Cifu. The existing CENC cohort, consisting of more than 2 million Veterans and service members, started in 2012 and has become the world’s largest and best-characterized research cohort dedicated to the study of military TBI. LIMBIC will expand the cohort and integrate with other government, academic, and nonprofit research. 

Researchers associated with CENC—and now with LIMBIC—have already documented links between combat concussions and dementia, Parkinson's disease, chronic pain, opioid usage, and suicide risk. They have also developed specialized diagnostic tests using questionnaires, physical exams, brain imaging, fluid biomarkers, and electrophysiology to probe how the brain recovers from injury.

LIMBIC launched on Oct. 1 and will continue for five years, with $25 million from DoD and up to $25 million from VA, depending on the availability of funds. To learn more about the effort, visit the VCU web page on LIMBIC. For more about VA research on TBI in general, visit the TBI topic page on the VA Research website.

Last updated Thursday, May 26, 2022