Friday, July 13, 2018

The Military And Motor Neuron Disease: Military-related factors affecting survival of veterans with ALS

Military veterans may have higher rates of death from the progressive neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease, than non-veterans. However, few studies have examined what might be behind this association. The authors of a PLOS ONE study evaluated the relationship between various military-related factors and ALS survival among U.S. veterans.
The study has just been awarded the 2018 PLOS Veterans Disability & Rehabilitation Research Channel Prize. I interviewed via email co-author John Beard, epidemiologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health at Brigham Young University, to find out more.
Q-What drew you to study epidemiology?
JB: It happened gradually over time. I’ve been interested in numbers and research since I was about 10 years old, so I majored in statistics for my undergraduate degree. I then earned graduate degrees in public health and epidemiology so that I could apply statistics to real problems that affected real people. I had some great mentors in graduate school and during internships who helped me to discover that epidemiology was enjoyable, fulfilling, and a good fit for me.
Q-In your study, you examined rates of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) mortality amongst US military veterans. Why did you decide to study this topic?

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