November 2006 Meeting
Robert Haley, M.D.,
University of Texas (UT)
Robert W. Haley, M.D., is Professor of Internal Medicine and Director of the Division of Epidemiology in the Internal Medicine Department at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and holder of the U.S. Armed Forces Veterans Distinguished Chair for Medical Research Honoring America's Gulf War Veterans. He received his M.D. degree from UT Southwestern Medical School and served a residency in internal medicine at Dallas Parkland Memorial Hospital. He served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service for 10 years (1973-1983) at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where he investigated epidemics and performed epidemiologic research in nationwide samples of U.S. hospitals. At the 50th anniversary of CDC his research was recognized as one of the four most important accomplishments of the Center. In 1983, Dr. Haley founded the Division of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at UT Southwestern. He was an attending physician at the Dallas VA Medical Center for 10 years 1985-1995 and has been an attending physician at Parkland Memorial Hospital since then. Dr. Haley has conducted extensive research on the epidemiology and prevention of hospital-acquired infections, hepatitis C, and Gulf War syndrome.
His most recent research, beginning in 1994 and funded initially by the Perot Foundation, has been to understand the nature and causes of the Gulf War syndrome in veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Following three landmark publications of initial findings in the January 15, 1997, issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, he conducted a brain research program, Congressionally funded through the Department of Defense, to work out the mechanisms of brain injury in the veterans and identify tests and treatments for the Gulf War illness. Key scientific publications reported a genetic predisposition to Gulf War syndrome that appears to link the illness to nerve gas exposure, brain cell injury in deep brain structures identified by advanced brain imaging, abnormal brain dopamine production, and dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system explaining many symptoms. His investigation also uncovered an excess of Lou Gehrig's disease in young Gulf War veterans. He is currently developing an advanced brain imaging center and beginning a national survey of Gulf War veterans to explain additional aspects of the illness and to develop treatment.
Dr. Haley coordinated development of UT Southwestern's 2003 initiative in basic science research related to defense against bioterrorism and emerging infections disease threats. He served as the president and board chairman of the Dallas County Medical Society and was a founding member of the Society's Board of Health that coordinates planning and communication on biological and chemical terrorism for the Dallas medical community. Dr. Haley has published over 140 research papers, review articles and letters in peer-reviewed scientific journals, including 17 primary research papers, 4 reviews and 9 research letters on Gulf War illness. He has lectured extensively throughout the U.S. and in many foreign countries including European countries, Mexico, Argentina, China and Korea. From 1985 to 2003 he lectured in all of the CDC national training courses for hospital epidemiologists. In 2004 he was elected to the Association of American Physicians, a select society for medical scientists. He is currently working with Dallas County Health and Human Services to develop and early warning and response plan for managing possible pandemic avian influenza.
In the late 1980s, he performed independent research to understand the problems with academic achievement in Dallas Public Schools. In 1991 he served on the Dallas Commission for Educational Excellence, co-authored the city's public school reform plan, which later served as the basis for Governor Bush's statewide education reform and President Bush's No Child Left Behind program. He has served on the School Effectiveness and Accountability Task Force administering the reform in Dallas. For his work in education reform he was honored with a life membership by the Texas State PTA. He has collaborated with the Athletic Department of the Dallas Public Schools to develop a system for preventing athletic injuries. An Eagle Scout, Dr. Haley served as Troop Committee Chairman of Boy Scout Troop 70 for 8 years, coached YMCA football and basketball for 10 years, and served as president of the Hillcrest High School Athletic Booster Club.