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Northwest Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (VISN 20 NW MIRECC)


Our Mission

The mission of the VISN 20 NW MIRECC is to improve the health and well-being of Veterans by developing, evaluating, and disseminating novel effective treatments for military posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its complex comorbidities. The most prominent of these comorbidities is repetitive blast mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI); others are alcohol use disorder (AUD), chronic pain (in particular, post-concussive headaches), cognitive impairment, and increased risk for neurodegenerative disorders (chronic traumatic encephalopathy [CTE] and Alzheimer’s disease [AD]).


Northwest MIRECC LogoVA Puget Sound
Health Care System
Northwest MIRECC LogoVA Portland
Health Care System
In the fall of 1997, VISN 20 leaders from the Puget Sound VA Health Care System and the Portland VA Health Care System were commissioned by Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) to establish one of the first three Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Centers (MIRECCs) in the United States. That center, the NW MIRECC, now provides protected research time, developmental study support,
and new resources to a diverse, multidisciplinary cadre of biostatisticians, endocrinologists, geneticists, molecular biologists, neurologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, radiologists, educators, clinicians, young investigators, and support staff, all of whom work together to deliver world-class, cutting-edge science, education, and clinical care to Veterans and health professionals at medical centers and community-based outpatient clinics throughout four northwestern states—Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. This important work spans three time zones and is only possible through productive collaborations with local and national academic, government, industry, military, and community partners.
The knowledge produced by NW MIRECC research efforts is disseminated through web-based and face-to-face educational offerings and directly implemented in our specialty clinics throughout the Northwest. This collaborative approach to mental health has had a profound impact on the lives of Veterans.

Northwest MIRECC LogoVISN 20

Most notably, staff at the NW MIRECC pioneered the use of the blood pressure medication prazosin to treat trauma-related nightmares, one of the most common symptoms of military PTSD. Due in part to our educational outreach efforts, this medication is now prescribed to over 100,000 Veterans and active-duty Servicemembers, and we continue to investigate its usefulness for other psychiatric conditions that are common in Veterans.



Northwest MIRECC Logo

For more information about the VA Puget Sound NW MIRECC, contact us at 206.277.5566; for more information about the Portland NW MIRECC, contact us at 503.220.3481.