UT Health Science Center announced Monday that it is the recipient of a $45 million grant from the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

The money will be awarded over five years to fund research on how “to develop the most effective detection, treatment and prevention programs for the alleviation of PTSD in our combat veterans, those that are active duty service members, as well as previously served veterans,” said Dr. Alan Peterson, director of STRONG STAR CAP, the program in which the research will be conducted.

Announced over the weekend by the White House and the Department of Defense, STRONG STAR CAP is an expansion of the STRONG STAR Consortium led by UTHSC. The consortium is a nationwide network of military, civilian and VA researchers.

“PTSD is a silent disease that's not recognized by visually looking at somebody,” said UTHSC President Bill Henrich.

Henrich adds that an estimated 15 percent of combat veterans suffer from some form of PTSD after serving, as well as 6 to 7 percent of civilians.

The emphasis with this grant will be on biomarkers -- biological indicators to help doctors better detect PTSD and track the outcome of treatment.

"Now we have to find out what the true prevalence of it is and then we have to, after identifying which forms of the disorder people have, get them on the right therapy so we can cure it,” Henrich said.

And that is the ultimate goal: to develop not just a more effective treatment, but a cure.

"To set our sights any lower than that would be a disservice to our troops,” Peterson said.

Peterson also noted that service members who have never deployed sometimes suffer from PTSD because of the tremendous stress they deal with daily.

UTHSC is partnering in this research with San Antonio Military Medical Center, Wilford Hall at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, and Darnall Army Medical Center in Fort Hood.

The $45 million will be dually managed by UTHSC and the VA National Center for PTSD.

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