The Air Force Health Study Assets Research Program


Report at a Glance

  • Findings, Conclusions, & Recommendation (PDF)

Download an introductory slide for this report >>

Longitudinal prospective studies that follow a population for an extended period (a decade or more) are the gold standard of observational epidemiologic studies, but they are uncommon due to great expense and time needed to conduct them. Even rarer are well-designed cohort studies that include the collection and storage of biospecimens for use in current and future analyses, such as the Air Force Health Study (AFHS). The AFHS is prospective epidemiologic study followed a cohort of 2,700 men for approximately 20 years. These men participated in up to six intensive physical examinations, where clinical measurements were taken and serum and other biological samples were obtained and preserved. In 2007, after data collection was completed and its final report published, Congress directed that the AFHS data and biospecimens be transferred to the custody of the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The IOM was directed to create a program of research to make the AFHS assets available to qualified researchers for the purpose of improving the understanding of determinants of health and promoting wellness in veterans and the general population. The research program began in 2011, and at the end of 4 years, the IOM was directed to provide a final report to Congress outlining the feasibility and advisability of maintaining the AFHS assets based on interest generated from the general scientific community and the results of pilot projects and other research projects using the AFHS assets. This report details the consensus committee’s findings and recommendations.