Online Program

Exploring the untapped potential of the "ranch hand" data and biospecimens

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 3:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Anne Styka, MPH, Board on the Health of Select Populations, Institute of Medicine, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Washington, DC
The US Congress granted the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility to make a uniquely rich and largely unexplored longitudinal epidemiologic database available to researchers to facilitate more expansive scientific findings to improve health and wellness. The database comprises the records and biologic assets collected in the course of the Air Force Health Study, popularly known as the Ranch Hand Study. This study—originally focused on the possible influence of wartime exposure to herbicides—collected serial biologic samples, and voluminous health status, demographic, and socioeconomic status data at six time points over a 20 year period (1982, 1985, 1987, 1992, 1997, and 2002). In total, 2,758 Vietnam veterans participated in at least one exam cycle. Data from physical examinations include blood draws, urine and semen collections, skin and fat biopsies, stool smears, spirometry, chest X rays, electrocardiograms, dermatology and peripheral vascular examinations, neurological assessments, psychological testing, and many other clinical endpoints. Questionnaires eliciting information on education; employment; income; marital and fertility history; child and family health; health habits; recreation, leisure, and physical activities; toxic substances exposure; military experience; and wartime herbicide exposure were also administered. The Ranch Hand Study focused on the possible health effects of exposure to herbicides and dioxin and much of the collected information has never been analyzed. Further, new technologies and methods permit analyses that were not possible during the life of the original study. The IOM was granted funding to make the Ranch Hand materials available to the research community and to provide support for pilot studies. This presentation will address: (1) the characteristics of the Ranch Hand data and biospecimens, and scientific merit of their continued study; (2) the status of the IOM assets management and dissemination effort and (3) potential research opportunities.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the data and specimens collected over the course of the Air Force Health Study. Identify potential areas for future research.

Keyword(s): Agent Orange, Vietnam

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the NAS program officer for the former "Ranch hand" study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3392.0: War and Its Consequences