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New Report Lauds DoD Overseas Research Laboratories

July 29, 2011
The Army and Navy overseas laboratories are an exceptional asset and make an essential contribution to U.S. military readiness; however, they face challenges and vulnerablities that hinder their success.

The Army and Navy overseas laboratories are an exceptional asset and make an essential contribution to U.S. military readiness; however, they face challenges and vulnerablities that hinder their success. This is the finding of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which recently completed a year-long independent evaluation and report of the overseas military laboratories.

“Medical research and development programs in support of our force health protection requirements is paramount and requires key subject matter expertise in place in countries around the world,” said COL Kent Kester, former WRAIR Commander and panelist at the report’s launch event. He added that the laboratories provide the DoD with actionable data to inform medical decision makers on disease threats related to deployments. Data from the labs is also provided back to host nation public health agencies, and informs global public health enterprises such as the World Health Organization. 

Not only do the Army and Navy overseas laboratories contribute to military readiness—their primary function—but they also contribute to the development of products such as vaccines and therapies that benefit all, strengthen the scientific community in the host country, and leverage partnerships with other U.S. government agencies such as NIH. The Military HIV Research Program, according to NIH official, Dr. Clifford Lane, is “critical” for NIH.

While CSIS extolled the contributions of the laboratories, one major challenge the labs face, according to CSIS, is their lack of recognition outside of the research community. Lack of visibility contributes to funding uncertainty, which puts the laboratories at risk of having to cut valuable research programs.

In addition to COL Kester, a number of MHRP staff shared their insights with the authors during the report’s development. For more information on the DoD overseas laboratories instrumental to the work conducted at MHRP, visit the following websites:

Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences

U.S. Army Medical Research Unit – Kenya