Dr. Edward Dunner, 68. retired special assistant to the assistant chief medical director for research and development at the Veterans Administration, died of cardiac arrest Jan. 24 at Holy Cross Hospital.

A specialist in hypertension and tuberculosis, he first joined the VA at its hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. in 1941. Two years later he became a staff member of the VA hospital in Livermore, Calif., which specialized in the treatment of tuberculosis: While there, he held the rank of an Army officer in World War II.

Dr. Dunner later was in charge of the new streptomycin treatment program for tuberculosis at the hospital. In 1950, he became head of the VA's tuberculosis treatment program in eight western and southwestern states, working out of St. Louis, Mo.

Dr. Dunner was born in Brooklyn. N.Y. A graduate of Syracuse University, he received a medical degree from the University of Bern in Switzerland. He practiced medicine in Brooklyn before joining the VA.

He came to the VA offices here in 1954, was in charge of its nationwide tuberculosis program and then directed the medical research service during 1962-66. He retired in 1972. He was a recipient of the Distinguished Career Award.

Dr. Dunner was a member of the American Trudeau Society, a former governor of the American College of Chest Physicians and a former member of the American Medical Association.

He is survived by his wife, Reichel, of the home in Silver Spring; two sons, Dr. David, of Seattle, and Dr. Frederick, of Iowa City, Iowa; a sister. Jeanette Dorman, of Rutherford, N.J.; a brother, Barnett, of Brooklyn, and two grandchildren.