News of the WeekBiomedical Research

VA Pulls the Plug on Disputed Study of Gulf War Illness

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Science  11 Sep 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5946, pp. 1324-1325
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_1324

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A lavishly funded health study of veterans from the first Gulf War—favored by the U.S. Congress but viewed with skepticism by many scientists—hit a wall in August. Its funder, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), pulled out after 2 years of a 5-year, $75 million contract, alleging "severe performance deficiencies" by a research group at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. VA officials weren't available for comment. But in a 26 August statement announcing the decision, officials cited a scathing report by the VA inspector general. Issued in July, the report says the Texas group missed contract deadlines, appealed to backers in Congress to get deadlines rescinded, and would not agree to share key data.