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Surgeon General's Corner: Navy Medicine Focuses on Research and Development
Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson
U.S. Navy Surgeon General

Surgeon General's Corner: Navy Medicine Focuses on Research and Development

By Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson, U.S. Navy Surgeon General

As I prepare to say farewell as your 36th Surgeon General, I’d like to focus this month on a topic that is near and dear to my heart. As I’ve said throughout my tenure, research and development is crucial to our mission because, more often than not, our medical innovations derive from an idea or experiment in one of our laboratories. Researchers and scientists epitomize the spirit of interdisciplinary scholarship, innovation, and entrepreneurship that lead to translational advancements in critical areas.

Today we have eight Naval medical research centers, labs, or units spanning four continents that conduct basic and applied research in infectious diseases; biological defense; combat casualty care; military operational and expeditionary medicine; bone marrow transplantation; aviation medicine and medical standards; and diving and environmental medicine. I am also very proud of the bi-lateral agreement and memorandum of understanding for military medical partnerships we recently signed with the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense. Here is a snapshot of Navy Medicine’s global research enterprise:

Naval Medical Research Center – Silver Spring, Md. serves as our headquarters, focusing on solutions to operational medical problems such as battlefield neurotrauma and wounds, decompression sickness, naturally occurring infectious diseases, biological threat agents and bone marrow injury research.

Naval Health Research Center – San Diego, Calif. works closely with operational units by conducting medical modeling and simulating analysis; monitoring the effects of combat exposure on psychological health; managing career-span deployment health & readiness programs, improving warfighter performance, and assisting in the implementation of military-specific HIV-prevention.

Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory – Groton, Conn. conducts research into undersea human systems integration, submarine survival and rescue, diver bio-effects, hearing conservation, and situational awareness. They work in concert with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Naval Medical Center San Diego, NASA, NAVSEA, Naval Expeditionary Diving Unit, and the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine among others.

Naval Medical Research Unit – San Antonio, Texas conducts medical, dental, and directed energy biomedical research to enhance the health, safety, performance and operational readiness of Navy and Marine Corps personnel as well as addressing emergent medical and dental problems in routine and combat operations.

Naval Medical Research Unit – Dayton, Ohio conducts research in acceleration effects, aviation medical standards and personnel selection, physiological and cognitive effects of altitude, vision research, pulmonary health effects, neuro-toxicology/ neuro-behavior, reproductive health and systems biology.

U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit 2 Pacific – Pearl Harbor, Hawaii conducts infectious disease research and surveillance in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Current studies include respiratory disease surveillance, malaria drug resistance, novel vector control measures and dengue cohort monitoring.

U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit 3 – Cairo, Egypt conducts infectious disease research and surveillance in the Middle East, Southwest Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. Current studies focus on influenza-like illness, acute febrile illness, diarrheal diseases, hemorrhagic fever, HIV, meningitis and infection control.

U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit 6 – Lima, Peru conducts infectious disease research and surveillance in South America including prevention strategies, clinical trials, chemotherapeutics, diagnostics, epidemiology, and ecology. Researchers partner with the Peruvian Army and Navy, prestigious universities like Cayetano-Heredia and San Marcos, the Ministry of Health, USAID, CDC, NIH and several American universities.

Our robust research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) global footprint forms an enterprise that is the Navy’s and Marine Corps’ premier biomedical and dental research and bio-surveillance organization with over 1500 dedicated professional, technical and support personnel who focus on force health protection and enhanced deployment readiness to DoD personnel worldwide. The diverse capabilities and geographical distribution of our laboratories reflect the broad mission and vision of our R&D community. We direct our efforts towards operational medicine and readiness through partnerships with other government agencies, host countries, academia, and private industry to share technology and knowledge to enhance global health.

Our work is held in high esteem by the U.S. and international scientific community. Hundreds of presentation and publications are submitted and accepted each year, and our work is frequently featured in the world’s leading peer-reviewed scientific journals and at international conferences.

It is my honor to represent you as your Surgeon General. Thank you for everything you do, but most of all, thank you for your service.