For more than 200 years, the Army's efforts to protect soldiers from emerging health threats have resulted in significant advances in medicine. George Washington's Continental Army Soldiers were protected against smallpox in 1777, setting a precedent for future mass immunizations. Maj. Walter Reed proved mosquito transmission of yellow fever, and Col. William Gorgas used sanitation measures to prevent that transmission and stop epidemics of yellow fever and malaria.
Army doctors wrote the first American surgical textbook, kept the nation's first health statistics, and established the first American school of preventive medicine and public health. Many medical "firsts" followed in combat medicine in World Wars I and II.
The U.S. Army Surgeon General's Medical Research and Development Board was established in 1943 to coordinate all medical department research with other components of the Army as well as with agencies outside the Army. In 1958, the Army Medical Research Board was converted to the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, the central agency for all Army military medical research and development to improve preventive medicine measures and rapid treatment techniques. The research programs of the USAMRDC addressed military-unique problems and applied directly to preserving health and safety of soldiers. The USAMRDC mission was summed up in its motto, "Research for the Soldier."
Headquarters, USAMRDC moved from Washington D.C. to Fort Detrick, Md., in 1978.
On November 3, 1994, a stand-up ceremony marked the establishment of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, with a new motto, "Protect, Project, Sustain." The standup followed a thorough analysis of the medical research and medical materiel requirements of the Army.
The reorganization improved the Army Medical Department's ability to prevent illness and injury in deploying forces, to equip the Army's medics to provide the best possible combat casualty care, and to ensure medical logistics systems that enhance medical readiness. The reorganization structured the command to manage the medical materiel acquisition program in support of the Army of the 21st century.
Today, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command is providing solutions for America's sons and daughters who serve the nation around the globe.
The Institute of Surgical Research, which specializes combat casualty care research, tested the chitosan bandage to show that it can stop lethal hemorrhage on the battlefield. Researchers at the Institute have also shown that tourniquets, which had fallen out of favor, have a place on today's battlefield and have saved lives during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and its unit in Europe have led the charge in the area of combat stress. They developed a mental health screening tool for returning Soldiers, to quickly identify those who need help. Walter Reed's leishmania lab was there to help diagnose cutaneous leishmaniasis when warfighters in Iraq developed sores from sandfly bites that wouldn't heal.
The Health Facility Planning Agency helped to create the Amputee Training Center that will open in December at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The center will offer treadmills, stationary bikes, a running track, military vehicle and weapon simulators, and a climbing and rappelling wall to help soldiers adapt their prosthetics to military tasks so those men and women in uniform perhaps can return to their units.
The Battlefield Medical Information System-Tactical, a tool to help medics do their jobs faster and to document care, was created at the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center. The BMIST has gone to war with the Stryker Brigades and some airborne and special ops units. The National Interagency Biodefense Campus that is being build here to address the bioterrorer threats, will have as its hub the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases because the institute is the pioneer in biodefense. As an example, the newest anthrax vaccines in clinical trials today are based on a decade of work at USAMRIID.
In medical chemical defense research, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research have developed a bioscavenger as a pretreatment for nerve agent exposure. When it's administered in an appropriate dose, it protects people from nerve agent exposure for up to two weeks.
U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, with its expertise in taking medical products from the lab to the field, are currently working to ensure that vaccines for the respiratory infection called adenovirus will again be available to protect recruits going through basic training.
In addition to managing the entire Army Medical Department's information technology needs, the U.S. Army Medical Information Technology Center helped field a surgery scheduling system to improve the overall operating room efficiency for U.S. Army hospitals. The system allows clinics and surgeons to book their own surgeries while reducing data entry time by tenfold.
Logisticians at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency and the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Europe continue to reach unprecedented performance levels. USAMMA recently built and fielded an 84-bed enhanced split-based hospital to the 228th Combat Support Hospital in Mosul and Tikrit and is actively building two more for the theater of operations. USAMMCE saw their overall sales volume increase by 26 percent to $247 million dollars and a near doubling of their customer base when operations began more than two years ago.
The United States Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity crafts contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements to support command's research staff, scientific effort, advance development support, medical products, logistics support, and supplies. This mission encompasses more than $1.5 billion and 38,000 transactions annually.
The command's Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program continues to provide hope for advancements in military medicine as well as in public health through their research programs that hope to find cures for breast cancer, prostate cancer, neurofibromatosis, and more.
Researchers at the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Lab are helping the Army's aviation soldiers to fight better, longer, stronger, smarter and safer through their research in acoustics, aeromedical devices, jolt, vision, and safety equipment.
The U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine conducts basic and applied research to determine how exposure to extreme heat, severe cold, high terrestrial altitude, occupational tasks, physical training, deployment operations, and nutritional factors affect the health and performance of military personnel.
The command works every day for America's Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, saving their lives and keeping them healthy as well.