In 1978 the seed was planted for what would become NAMRU-6 when Peruvian Navy Contralmirante Roberto Dileo Paoli requested the U.S. Naval Medical Research and Development Command to establish a laboratory in Peru to conduct research in tropical medicine. On 20 January 1983 the Naval Medical Research Institute Detachment (NAMRID) was established through an agreement between the Surgeons General of the Peruvian and U.S. Navies, and with the concurrence of the U.S. Department of State and Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The agreement established a cooperative medical research program in Peru to study infectious diseases of mutual interest.
Over the years the mission and infrastructure grew and in 1998 the name was changed to Naval Medical Research Center Detachment (NMRCD). This change made the laboratory an independent field detachment of the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) located in Silver Spring, Maryland in 2010.
U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 6 was christened on 13 January 2011 by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and representatives of the Peruvian Navy. Commonly referred to as “NAMRU-6”, the command was officially commissioned on 10 February 2011. The vision of the command was to broaden its research and to extend collaborations throughout Latin America with the goal of improving global heath and strengthening international security. NAMRU-6 is one of only five overseas research laboratories operated around the world by the U.S. Department of Defense, and is the only U.S. military command in South America.
NAMRU-6, with all its former titles, has always been part of the history of Naval Medical Research and with the Research Divisions of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery established during World War II to study epidemiological problems and tropical diseases. Today, NAMRU-6’s mission is to detect infectious disease threats of military and public health importance and to develop and test strategies and products to mitigate those threats. NAMRU-6 works closely with ministries of defense and health throughout the region, the Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System (GEIS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local and U.S. universities. NAMRU-6 currently has more than 150 collaborative projects in 11 countries throughout Central and South America.