Lt. Cmdr. Michael G. Prouty, Deputy Director, NMRC Field Laboratory Operations, speaks to a group of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Students at the second biennial Department of Defense Lab Day held at the Pentagon, May 18.
SILVER SPRING, Md. –A team from the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) participated in the second biennial Department of Defense Lab Day, along with others from the Navy, Army and Air Force at the Pentagon, May 18, 2017.
Mary J. Miller, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, hosted the event. Miller said widespread representation demonstrates the complexity and diversity of the DoD lab enterprise. The 2017 DoD Lab Day event highlighted more than 80 exhibits by the defense laboratory enterprise – a network of 63 defense laboratories, warfare centers, and engineering centers – throughout the United States.
“The Department of Defense Lab Day provided an outstanding opportunity for the Naval Medical Research Center to highlight the great programs and accomplishments we have made to contribute to the readiness of our warfighters. A tremendous amount of work occurs behind the scenes to support and conduct our research and it is fantastic to be able to use a forum such as this to showcase our success,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael G. Prouty, Deputy Director, NMRC Field Laboratory Operations.
Presenting biomedical research products in the joint services’ medical tent, NMRC showcased the mobile laboratory and highlighted examples of on-going research and products including spray-dried plasma, pneumatic tourniquets, scrub typhus diagnostics, a noise reducing stethoscope, enhanced candidate malaria vaccine vial samples, and from the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory (NSMRL) in Groton, Connecticut, a hearing health instructional app.
The NMRC mobile laboratories allow the rapid deployment of military personal to quickly conduct confirmatory assays to determine whether biological agents are present in the field and other austere locations. The lab weights approximately 1,000 pounds and only needs three people to operate. It holds supplies sufficient to process about 150 samples using both PCR and ELISA-based testing. It also includes protective gear for personnel, a generator, a freezer, field lighting and a tent.
The mobile laboratory teams are world leaders in the field of bio-detection – including hand-held assays, molecular diagnostics, and confirmatory analysis. For example, during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the teams processed thousands of samples reducing the time for biological agent detection from days to hours, which was instrumental in breaking the cycle of infection and improved the health outcomes of thousands of individuals.
This was a great opportunity to showcase Navy Medicine’s innovative technology and resultant inventions according to Technology Transfer Specialist, Ting Wang, from the NMRC Office of Partnership and Business Development. She added, “Our office supports Navy Medicine, including the NMRC enterprise, in its efforts to develop and commercialize technologies for the benefit of the warfighter. The displays presented were part of our technology license portfolio which covers a wide range of technologies in research fields from biomedical, environmental, dental, and aerospace and biological warfare defense. We had the opportunity to talk with other members of the DoD community, as well as invited guests, so they could see some of the technologies developed by Navy Medicine scientists. It helped them to understand the applicability and broad nature of the scientific research performed in our labs.” Their hands on technology transfer display included a pneumatic tourniquet, box of scrub typhus diagnostics, and a noise reducing stethoscope.
“Event opportunities like this really open the doors for NMRC to talk to individuals about all of the exciting science being conducted,” said Thomas Dunn, NMRC Advanced Medical Development (AMD) Program, Deputy Assistant, Program Manager.
The NMRC AMD Program display included a sample of pooled-donor, pathogen reduced, dehydrated human plasma for the management of perioperative or bleeding patients suitable for austere and expeditionary use. The NMRC AMD Program coordinates the business, research, and advanced development of medical products throughout their entire life cycle.
NSMRL, part of the NMRC enterprise, showcased research on hearing conservation and demonstrated the Warfighter’s Hearing Health Instructional Primer application (WHHIP). The WHHIP is a supplemental tool for military hearing conservation programs and can be accessed from a personal mobile phone. NSMRL conducts hearing conservation efforts from basic research to applied research such as the ability to predict hearing loss to a toolkit to assist field audiologists in hearing education.
NMRC’s eight laboratories are engaged in a broad spectrum of activity from basic science in the laboratory to field studies at sites in austere and remote areas of the world to operational environments. In support of the Navy, Marine Corps, and joint U.S. warfighters, researchers study infectious diseases; biological warfare detection and defense; combat casualty care; environmental health concerns; aerospace and undersea medicine; medical modeling, simulation and operational mission support; and epidemiology and behavioral sciences.
NMRC and the laboratories deliver high-value, high-impact research products to support and protect today's deployed warfighters. At the same time researchers are focused on the readiness and well-being of future forces.