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NAMRU-2 Officer Takes Part in 2022 DARPA Fellowship

11 January 2023

From Sidney Hinds

ARLINGTON, Va. – Lt. Cmdr. Robert Hontz, a microbiologist with Naval Medical Research Unit (NAMRU)-2, participated in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Service Chiefs’ Fellowship Program (SCFP) from Sept. 20 – Dec. 16, 2022.Fellowship participants shadowed program managers, meeting with subject matter experts and independent
ARLINGTON, Va. – Lt. Cmdr. Robert Hontz, a microbiologist with Naval Medical Research Unit (NAMRU)-2, participated in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Service Chiefs’ Fellowship Program (SCFP) from Sept. 20 – Dec. 16, 2022.

Fellowship participants shadowed program managers, meeting with subject matter experts and independent verification & validation partners to better act as informal liaisons between their organizations and DARPA.

“This fellowship has the potential to broaden the relationship between NAMRU-2 and DARPA and open new areas of cooperation,” said Capt. Jonathan Stahl, commanding officer of NAMRU-2. “DARPA's areas of interest often intersect with our mission, and having an officer onboard with advanced knowledge of DARPA's internal structure and processes will greatly aid in fostering collaborative efforts.”

Hontz shadowed nine different program managers in the DARPA Biological Technologies Office, focusing on medical countermeasures, diagnostics and biosurveillance tools, vaccine platforms, personal protective equipment, pathogen detection techniques and vector bioengineering. He also attended partner meetings at Georgia Tech, University of Georgia and Texas A&M, as well as meetings with partners from Vanderbilt, MIT, Harvard, Stanford and University of Michigan.

The SCFP began in 2008 as an opportunity to expose mid-grade uniformed officers to the DARPA mission, and to provide DARPA program managers with military personnel of various technical backgrounds to identify current and future programs that can fill gaps in the needs of the services. Once per quarter, DARPA liaison officers representing each branch of the armed services review applications from O4s and O5s to participate in the fellowship at their headquarters in Arlington, Va. Hontz said he would encourage fellow officers in the Enterprise to consider applying for future fellowships.

DARPA, established by DoD Directive in 1958, identifies and initiates advancements in technology to further U.S. national defense. DARPA’s efforts are responsible for innovations that range from GPS, stealth aircraft, self-driving vehicles, and mRNA vaccines.

NAMRU-2, a command of Naval Medical Research Center headquartered out of Singapore, conducts research in cooperation with host nations in Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand to improve global health, ensure military force health protection and address infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue fever virus and gastro-intestinal pathogens.
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