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$12 Million Awarded for Gulf War Illness Research

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 1997 – DoD, in conjunction with the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, has awarded $12 million for 12 new Gulf War illness research projects.

Projects will provide medical research to conduct animal studies to assess the possible long-term or delayed effects of low-level exposure to chemical warfare agents. Others will investigate relationships between Gulf War veterans' reported illnesses and their possible exposure to hazardous material, chemical warfare agents and stress. The studies will also look at the potentially hazardous combinations of inoculations for anthrax and botulinum toxin and the investigational drug pyridostigmine bromide that DoD administered to troops during the war.

This makes 35 currently active projects into the as yet unexplained illnesses. Eight of the new projects are funded under a special $10 million fiscal 1997 congressional appropriation to DoD for nonfederal scientific research. DoD solicited the other four projects from all sources and funded them from the department's science and technology account.

Officials said projects were selected on the basis of scientific merit and relevance to better understanding Gulf War illnesses.

DoD sought, but did not receive, proposals for projects to determine the feasibility of epidemiological studies of veterans who served at or near Khamisiyah, Iraq, in March 1991. U.S. soldiers destroyed captured Iraqi munitions there, accidentally releasing a toxic plume of nerve agent into the air. Instead, the department will work with the Institute of Medicine a part of the National Academy of Science, officials said, to better understand possible health outcomes among those veterans.

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