Last month — coinciding with the 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Shield — hundreds of scientists and veterans gathered online to discuss the ongoing medical issues facing Gulf War Veterans at the first Virtual Gulf War Illness State of the Science Conference.
And as one of two Gulf War Illness (GWI) researchers on the planning committee, UW–Madison’s Dane Cook, a professor with the School of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and a research physiologist at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, was key to making the event happen.
Cook said the conference was intended to share “state-of-the-art research into Gulf War Veterans’ illness, provide a forum for interaction to stimulate future collaborations, and most importantly, provide Gulf War Veterans a forum to engage (with) scientists and learn about studies that are being conducted to further understand and treat the disease.”
Cook also presented his VA Merit Review funded research, which focuses on the effects of exercise on the immune, autonomic, and central nervous systems of veterans with Gulf War Illness, at the conference. He said a broad range of research was represented, including animal models of GWI, pathophysiology of numerous biological systems, clinical trials of both behavioral and pharmacological treatments, and large-scale epidemiological trials.
Cook also noted the many researchers exchanging ideas for future projects and planning to engage further during the event, and he is hopeful that collaboration will result. “This is how science is supposed to work,” he said. “And we hope that this conference will stimulate new research that will benefit Gulf War Veterans.”