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The Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) optimizes the operational readiness and health of our armed forces by conducting research, development, testing, and evaluation to inform Department of Defense (DoD) policy. We have been designated the DoD Deployment Health Research Center since 1999. We conduct science that spans a wide spectrum, from operational physical readiness and joint medical planning to wounded warrior recovery and behavioral health interventions, focusing on the health, readiness, and well-being of our nation’s military members and their families. We conduct research that is operationally relevant and driven by fleet requirements. Our core research areas are Operational Readiness and Health, Military Population Health, and Operational Infectious Diseases. We are one of eight laboratories affiliated with the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, within the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Together, we support military mission readiness with research and development that delivers high-value, high-impact solutions to the health and readiness challenges our military population faces on the battlefield, at sea, on foreign shores, and at home.
To optimize operational readiness and warfighter health by informing DoD policy through research excellence.
To be the premier deployment health research center for DoD.
NHRC’s team comprises researchers and scientists whose areas of expertise include physiology, microbiology, biomedical engineering, psychology, epidemiology, and software engineering . Our staff is a mix of active duty service members, federal civil service employees, and contractors who are dedicated to our vision of being DoD’s premier operational health research center.
We are located aboard Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego, California, with access to more than 115,000 uniformed service members, world-class universities, industry leaders, Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, Naval Medical Center San Diego, and Navy Medicine West. Housed in 24 historic WWII-era military barracks, our San Diego location is ideal, placing us in proximity to a variety of potential research populations.
Eric R. Welsh was born in Orem, Utah in 1969 as the youngest of 8 children of Stanley L. Welsh, retired Professor of Botany at Brigham Young University, and Stella L. Welsh, former mayor and councilperson of the city of Orem, UT. He graduated from the University of Utah with a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering in 1993. After the first year of college, he served a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bilbao, Spain, where he gained fluency in Spanish. He returned to complete his degree, while also working part-time for the Chemistry Department and at Advanced Composites, Inc. in Salt Lake City, UT. He graduated with M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in 1997 and 1999, respectively in Polymer Science and Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
After working as a National Research Council Post-doctoral Fellow at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., he was commissioned in 2000 as a lieutenant in the Biochemistry/Toxicology Community of the Medical Service Corps of the U.S. Navy. He continued at that station for another two and a half years as a research scientist and co principal investigator of a research team. In December, 2002, he was transferred to the Chemistry Department at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, where he taught courses in chemistry and materials science. He was nominated for three teaching awards and was honored as the best military instructor of the year 2004-2005 at the U.S. Naval Academy.
In June 2006, he was transferred to the Navy Drug Screening Laboratory in Great Lakes, IL, where he served two distinguished tours; one as the Executive Officer and one as the Commanding Officer. He had the distinction of being the deciding official on the first ever military construction project for a new, custom designed drug testing laboratory facility at Great Lakes. In July 2012, he reported as the Director for Laboratory Services and Navy Drug Testing Program Manager at Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center, Portsmouth, VA, and managed four subordinate commands of 250 personnel and an annual budget in excess of $32M. He served as the Specialty Leader of the Biochemistry/Toxicology Community and was only one of two Naval Officers certified as an inspector for the National Laboratory Certification Program by the Department of Health and Human Services. He over-saw the closure of Navy Drug Screening Laboratory, San Diego. In August 2017, he reported to the Pentagon as the Director, Office of Drug Demand Reduction to manage the DoD’s Drug Demand Reduction Program. This included stewardship of three DoD Instructions to establish joint drug demand reduction policy; an annual budget of over $120M; six drug testing laboratories; drug testing of all active, reserve, and guard component personnel; and drug testing of DoD civilians working in drug testing designated positions. He routinely provided briefs, reports, and strategic policy goals to senior leaders in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Military Departments, and Congressional staffers.
In July 2021, he assumed charge of the Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit FIVE in San Diego, CA comprised of 88 staff in public health disciplines supporting optimal Force readiness in the Pacific Region. He assures manning, training, and deploying of Forward Deployable Preventive Medicine Units for world-wide operational missions. His personal military awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal (1), Meritorious Service Medal (2), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2), and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3). He has authored 13 publications in peer-reviewed journals, multiple abstracts for presentations, and 3 patents.
CAPT Kellie McMullen earned a B.S. in Biology from Virginia Tech in 1992 and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Human Genetics from Baylor College of Medicine in 1998. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Baylor College of Medicine from 1999–2000, studying the use of neurobehavioral assays and mouse knockout technology to discover new genes involved in neuropsychiatric disorders. Prior to receiving a commission in 2003, Dr. McMullen worked in the biotech industry.
Dr. McMullen was commissioned in 2003 and assigned to the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC), Bethesda, MD, from 2004–2008, where she served as the branch head of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Assistant Director of Graduate Professional Education, and as Flag Aide to RADM Richard R. Jeffries while he served as the Commanding Officer of NNMC and the Medical Officer of the Marine Corps. From 2009–2012, Dr. McMullen was assigned to Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit FIVE, San Diego, CA, and served as the Department Head for Operations and Laboratory Services during her tenure. She was assigned to the Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) in San Diego from 2012–2016, where she held leadership roles in the Operational Infectious Diseases Directorate and the DoD HIV/AIDS Prevention Program, and started and served as Head of the Science Support Department.
From 2016–2018, Dr. McMullen was assigned to Naval Medical Research Unit No. 3 (NAMRU-3) in Cairo, Egypt, and served as the interim Executive Officer and Science Director. She was assigned to the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) in Silver Spring, MD, and served from 2018–2019 as the Deputy Director of Field Lab Operations (the primary liaison with Navy overseas laboratories) and as the Navy lead for the Joint West Africa Research Group (JWARG). Dr. McMullen served as the Military Assistant to the Executive Director, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, from 2019–2022, during which time she was detailed to the DoD COVID-19 Task Force – Diagnostics & Testing as the Navy Service Lead and served as the Naval Medical Forces Pacific R&D Liaison Officer (LNO).
In June 2022, CAPT McMullen reported to the Naval Health Research Center as the Executive Officer.
Her military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), the Navy Commendation Medal (three awards), and the Navy Achievement Medal (three awards).
Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
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