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Young Investigators and Poster Awardees Recognized at Symposium

Image of A group of people with an award. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jonathan Yost accepts his Young Investigators Competition first-place award from U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Katherine Simonson, Terry Rauch, and Dr. Michael Morris at the 2022 Military Health System Research Symposium in Kissimmee, Florida, Sept. 15, 2022. (Photo: Robert Hammer, MHS Communications)

During this year’s Military Health System Research Symposium, participants of the Young Investigators Competition presented a series of scientific research focused on warfighter health. Selected presenters encompassed the top 1% of the more than 2,345 abstracts submitted for review during the conference. Additional presentations during MHSRS included three sessions featuring over 1,278 warfighter health-related posters spanning over 50 medical topic areas.

On Sept. 15, Terry Rauch, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for Health Readiness, Policy, and Oversight, alongside U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Katherine Simonson, Defense Health Agency deputy assistant director for Research and Development, presented awards for the best young investigators and poster presentations. Dr. Michael J. Morris, the chair for the MHSRS Young Investigators Competition, joined them on stage.

Young Investigator Award Winners Named

The Young Investigators Competition has continued to bring a new dynamic to ongoing research. The top three oral presentations were recognized. This year’s awardees were:

  • U.S. Army Capt. Joshua Boster, from Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, received third place. Boster presented his research on “Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid Cytology of Deployed Military Personnel with Chronic Respiratory Symptoms from the STAMPEDE III Study.” Boster discussed the increased levels of airborne particulate matter in Southwest Asia and how deployed military personnel are at risk for developing acute and chronic lung disease.
  • Rebecca Bieber from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, received second place. Her research focused on “Evaluating the Impacts of Hearing Protection on Fire Team Lethality, Survivability, Communication, and Mission Success in Dismounted Combat.” Her work collected new data by evaluating and monitoring diverse types of exercises with various hearing protections, which can help lead to better hearing protection on the battlefield.
  • The first-place winner, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jonathan Yost, from Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland, presented “Ketamine metabolite (2R, 6R)-HNK provides pain reduction via an AMPA receptor-dependent mechanism and alters AMPA receptor expression in the vIPAG.” Service members and veterans are at a higher risk of developing persistent pain conditions due to the high incidence of injuries sustained or aggravated during military duty and deployment.

All of the young investigators who presented their research brought relevant and increasingly needed data to the forefront. The military health community will benefit from their continued studies and published works.

MHSRS Announces Poster Award Competition Recipients

MHSRS also featured three poster sessions sharing information on ongoing research. Winners were selected from each session, with one Best in Show poster winner.

Session One Poster Winners:

  • The first honorable mention went to “Optimizing RNA Transfection and Cellular Engineering in Transfusable Platelets,” which was presented by Katherine Badior from Versiti Blood Research Institute in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • Dr. Jared Wohlgemut from Queen Mary University of London, in London, England, received the second honorable mention. He presented, “Incorporating Clinician Accuracy and Uncertainty of Prehospital Injury Diagnosis Improves Clinical Validity of a Decision Support System Without Compromising Performance of a Bayesian Network to Predict Trauma-Induced Coagulopathy.”
  • Third place went to Xiaowu Wu from U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Fort Sam Houston, Texas, for his poster on “Bradykinin B2 Receptor Antagonist (lcatibant) Improves Survivability in Rats with Lethal Hemorrhagic Shock.”
  • Coming in second place was Alejandra Lorenzen from the Naval Medical Research Unit San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas with her poster, “Characterization of Non-Human Primate Whole Blood Cold Storage Coagulation Function.”
  • The first-place award was given to “Phase I Study of the Safety of Locally Delivered Allogeneic Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Promoting Corneal Repair: Early Results” by Samer Habeel from the University of Illinois College of Medicine, in Chicago, Illinois.

Session Two Poster Winners:

  • “Feasibility of a Head-Mounted Virtual Reality System (FusionmVR) for Neurocognitive Eye Tracking within Military Medical Settings” by Mark Ettenhofer from the Naval Medical Center, San Diego, California received an honorable mention.
  • The second honorable mention went to Mikalia Guard from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for “The Complex Assessment of Military Performance for mTBI Assessment: Patrol Exertion Task Test-Retest Reliability.”
  • Third place was awarded to “Measured Stiffness of the Off-the-Shelf Carbon Fiber Ankle Foot Orthoses Depends on Test Alignment” by Benjamin Shuman from The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, in Seattle, Washington.
  • Second place was awarded to Suthee Wiri, with Applied Research Associates in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for “Blast Overpressure Environment Analysis of the M119 Howitzer at Varying Elevation Angles.”
  • The first-place winner was Dr. Simon Tallowin from the Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland for his poster on “Transcriptomic Profiles Associated with the Development of Heterotopic Ossification in Combat Extremity Wounds.”

Session Three Poster Winners:

  • The first honorable mention was “Method Development and Implementation of Genomic Wastewater Based Biosurveillance,” by Rachel Spurbeck from Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio.
  • The second honorable mention was “Recombinant Adenovirus-Like Particles (AdVLPs): Assessment of Immunogenicity of Monovalent and Polyvalent Vaccine Composition by Hannah Mulhall Maasz, TechnoVax Inc., Elmsford, New York.
  • In third place was Dorin Preda from Physical Sciences, Inc., in Andover, Massachusetts, for “Antimicrobial Surface Coatings to Reduce COVID-19 Spread.”
  • Second place went to “Gauging Operation Performance Based on Individual Cognitive Ability” by Krystina Diaz from the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory, in Groton, Connecticut.
  • First place was award to Dr. Donn Colby from U.S. Military HIV Research Program, in Silver Spring, Maryland, on “High Burden of Sexually Transmitted Infections at Both Genital and Extragenital Sites Among Female Military Personnel at Two U.S. Army Bases: Preliminary Results from the RV567 Efficacy Trial of an STI Prevention Intervention.”
  • The Best in Show poster winner for MHSRS was Brian Maguire from the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory, in Groton, Connecticut, for his poster, “A Preliminary Description of the Health of Female Navy Divers: An Examination of Linked Medical, Personnel and Dive Log Data for 47 Female Divers Who Separated Between 2008 and 2018.”

The MHSRS symposium concluded on Sept. 15.

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