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Atlanta VA Health Care System


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For media requests, contact the Public Affairs Office at (404) 321-6111 x5385.

VA Southeast Network Director Leslie Wiggins welcomes scientists and guests to the first VISN7 Research Symposium in Atlanta.

Researchers discuss Mental and Behavioral Health investigations during VISN7 Research Symposium poster session.

VA Office of Research and Development Scientific Program Manager Dr. Robert O’Brien addresses scientists at the VISN7 Research Symposium.VA Office of Research and Development Scientific Program Manager Dr. Robert O’Brien addresses scientists at the VISN7 Research Symposium.

VA National PTSD Web Content Manager Rebecca Matteo, Ph.D. explains tools and apps available to support researchers and Veterans on the national PTSD web page.
VISN7 Research Symposium showcases Mental and Behavioral Health innovations, expands collaborations

By Tonya C. Lobbestael, Public Affairs Officer

Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center


VA Southeast Network hosted its first regional research symposium in Atlanta on Oct. 17, focusing on mental and behavioral health innovations, to bring together world-class researchers throughout the Southeast to expand collaborative investigations and treatment advances.

Behavioral Health Keynote Speaker Stefan Kertesz, MD, Birmingham VA Medical Center, discussed homelessness research on the Housing First model that has been in effect in VA since 2012. The Department is the largest worldwide example of Housing First, focusing on rapid placement of the most vulnerable or at risk Veterans. His study found recovery support must be balanced with the rapid action to house Veterans, especially as Veterans who need the most clinical services generally have more health issues after they are housed.

Emory University Chair of Psychiatry Mark Rappaport, MD provided the keynote speech on Mental Health research, and VA National PTSD Web Content Manager Rebecca Matteo, Ph.D. shared the multitude of guidelines, training tools and apps now available through the PTSD Center’s website,

The symposium’s poster session included presentations on such topics as extending prolonged exposure for Veterans experiencing PTSD, a pilot study on the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction in PTSD and brain response in combat Veterans with PTSD. Posters on establishing opioid overdose education, and safe prescribing strategy for women of childbearing age in mental health were also presented.

Several of the research studies showcased at the symposium are collaborative efforts partnering VISN7 medical center research teams. Numerous VISN7 studies also involve collaborations with Department of Defense and industry to further innovations for treatment of clinical issues prevalent in the Veteran population.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is a leading research organization with world-class investigators across the VA Southeast Network discovering the latest clinical advances in suicide mitigation and prevention, the treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and pharmacotherapy safety to address the complex needs of Veterans. Future symposiums could focus on high impact basic science, clinical and health services research.



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