Gulf War and Health: Update of Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War
Stephen L. Hauser, M.D.
Professor and Chair of Neurology
University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine
Chair, Committee on Gulf War and Health: Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War,
Board on the Health of Select Populations
Institute of Medicine
The National Academies
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. My thanks to Congressman Mitchell and members of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs for your concern regarding Gulf War veterans’ health.
My name is Stephen Hauser. Since 1992, I have served as professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. I am trained in internal medicine, neurology, and immunology. I am also an elected member of the Institute of Medicine. I am here today because I served as Chair of the committee that worked on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report Gulf War and Health: Update of Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War. The sponsor of the study was the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The report was released to the VA and Congress on April 8th of this year.
I will focus on three main topics in my testimony. First, I will briefly discuss the overall IOM study process followed by the committee in developing our report and the committee’s approach to its charge, including the process the committee used to draw its conclusions regarding the association between deployment to the Gulf War and specific health outcomes. Second, I will summarize our specific findings and conclusions. And finally, I present the committee’s recommendations for future research to help address the continuing health concerns of Gulf War veterans.
The IOM is a part of The National Academies, a private, non-governmental organization that provides independent scientific-based advice to policymakers and the public. Among the IOM’s signature products is the consensus report produced by expert individuals from universities, nonprofit organizations, and other types of organizations. The long established study process, followed throughout the Academies, ensures that committee members are balanced for any biases and free from actual or potential conflicts of interest. Additionally, during committee meetings and deliberations, there is no sponsor oversight; the sponsoring organization does not participate in any portion of the preparation and review of the IOM report. In instances when the committee requests information from the sponsor, those materials are made publicly available. After the committee develops a draft consensus report based on a detailed review of available literature, hearing from additional experts, and internal deliberation, the draft report undergoes a formal external peer-review process. The reviewers are anonymous to the committee and IOM staff. They are asked to read the report and provide comments on whether the committee has addressed its charge, the strength of the evidence for and the validity of the committee’s conclusions, and clarity and flow of the report. All reviewer comments must be addressed by the committee and the report must be approved by The National Academies Report Review Committee before it can be released to the study sponsor and the public.