USA — Navy Seeks Advances in Biomedical Research

WASHINGTON — Navy researchers are sup­port­ing today’s warfight­er with new advances in bio­med­ical research and devel­op­ment.

“Med­ical research and devel­op­ment activ­i­ty pro­vides the inspi­ra­tion for dis­cov­ery and fur­ther devel­op­ment of new ideas, new con­cepts, new drugs or sur­gi­cal inter­ven­tions,” Dr. Way­man Cheatham, spe­cial assis­tant for med­ical research to the Navy sur­geon gen­er­al and direc­tor of the Navy Bureau of Med­i­cine and Surgery’s Navy Med­i­cine Research and Devel­op­ment Cen­ter, said dur­ing a “DOD Live” blog­gers round­table yes­ter­day.

Cheatham said Navy Sur­geon Gen­er­al Vice Adm. (Dr.) Adam M. Robin­son Jr. has estab­lished five areas of pri­or­i­ty in terms of strate­gic research to sup­port the Defense Depart­ment as a whole as well as those under the care of Navy Health. Those pri­or­i­ties are trau­mat­ic brain injury and psy­cho­log­i­cal health, med­ical sys­tem sup­port for mar­itime and expe­di­tionary oper­a­tions, wound and injury man­age­ment through­out the con­tin­u­um of care, hear­ing restora­tion and pro­tec­tion and under­sea med­i­cine.

This over­all research the Navy does to sup­port these areas include sur­veil­lance for emerg­ing dis­ease, drug and vac­cine devel­op­ment, research­ing envi­ron­men­tal tox­ins, and med­ical research and devel­op­ment sup­port­ing force pro­tec­tion. To sup­port these efforts, the Navy has med­ical research and clin­i­cal inves­ti­ga­tion oper­a­tions on five con­ti­nents, as well as among the islands of the Pacif­ic Ocean.

Cheatham said one of the Navy’s lat­est devel­op­ments in research has been try­ing to deter­mine the best agent to stop bleed­ing in peo­ple wound­ed on the bat­tle­field. Through a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort with the Army, researchers devel­oped Quik­Clot com­bat gauze, a wrap for wounds that seems to be more effec­tive in con­trol­ling bleed­ing.

He said the lat­est tech­nolo­gies in wound and injury man­age­ment are pro­vid­ing the great­est degree of sur­vival and return of indi­vid­u­als to func­tion­al­i­ty fol­low­ing injury in any con­flict.

“Greater than 95 per­cent of indi­vid­u­als now who are injured on the bat­tle­field, when reached and found to be alive, sur­vive their injuries through a long con­tin­u­um of care,” he said, call­ing that sur­vival rate “astound­ing and his­tor­i­cal.”

The Navy also is research­ing the use of hyper­bar­ic oxy­gen cham­bers in treat­ing trau­mat­ic brain injury and post-trau­mat­ic stress, he said.

“We have been involved in a num­ber of very sig­nif­i­cant research projects,” he added. “It’s impor­tant that the ques­tion of hyper­bar­ic oxy­gen uti­liza­tion for treat­ment of trau­mat­ic brain injury or post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­der be inves­ti­gat­ed in a very, very rig­or­ous and eth­i­cal fash­ion.”

Mon­i­tor­ing the long-term effects of ser­vice on sub­marines to deter­mine whether unan­tic­i­pat­ed sit­u­a­tions devel­op or health con­cerns emerge is anoth­er area of ongo­ing research, Cheatham said, and Navy researchers also are work­ing with agen­cies such as the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion in vac­cine devel­op­ment.

“Navy lab­o­ra­to­ries have been inte­gral to the process of inves­ti­ga­tion and vac­cine devel­op­ment by means of their being deployed around the world,” he said. “They have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to actu­al­ly be first on hand to sam­ple out­breaks of infec­tion or ill­ness and deter­mine the actu­al type of virus that might be involved. So Navy serves as a very, very impor­tant link in the world­wide sur­veil­lance and inter­ven­tion process.”

Cit­ing con­cerns about using resources to the fullest extent pos­si­ble, Cheatham said he can assure the pub­lic that the Navy is car­ry­ing out its com­mit­ment to the high­est cal­iber of research and med­ical edu­ca­tion, and that those two areas are being main­tained as strate­gic pri­or­i­ties for the Navy.

“New link­ages between research and devel­op­ment and our clin­i­cal activ­i­ties at our med­ical treat­ment facil­i­ties are evi­dence of this type of com­mit­ment,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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