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Innovative Research Is Critical for Military Medical Readiness

Image of Innovative Research Is Critical for Military Medical Readiness. Dr. Lester Martinez-López, the Department of Defense’s assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, gives the opening remarks at 2023 Military Health System Research Symposium in Kissimmee, Florida, on Aug, 14.

The 2023 Military Health System Research Symposium, the Department of Defense’s premier scientific meeting focused on the unique medical needs of the warfighter, kicked off on Aug. 14.

This annual event brings health care professionals, researchers, scientists, and DOD leaders together to collaborate and share the latest research findings and advancements in combat casualty care, military operational medicine, clinical and rehabilitative medicine, and infectious diseases, among many other topics.

Dr. Lester Martínez-López, DOD’s assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, commented on the meaning of the symposium’s theme, “Medical Readiness for the Future Fight” to the Military Health System.

“The information, research, and knowledge we share here has vital implications when it comes to the medical readiness of our service members—not just for today but for the future,” he said. “When I mention readiness, I’m speaking of our ability to maintain and enhance the skill sets of our medical professionals. Additionally, it’s ensuring that our service members are medically fit to carry out their mission. Finally, it means that our service members have the peace of mind to focus on their responsibilities knowing that their family members will have access to high-quality and available medical care. You will see that many of these areas are being addressed during this symposium and I’m excited to see how we continue to advance these and other areas.”

2023 Military Health System Research SymposiumPaul Pasquina, Phillip Mason, U.S. Army Col. Jennifer Gurney, and Kaleb Twilligear participate in a panel discussion titled “Casualty Care Across the Continuum” on the opening day of the 2023 Military Health System Research Symposium in Kissimmee, Florida, on Aug. 14.

MHSRS spotlights research beneficial to warfighters and offers vital solutions to keep them healthy and safe. This year’s event features presentations on a range of topics including medical readiness, expeditionary medicine, warfighter performance, return-to-duty, COVID-19, and telehealth. Key highlights include a keynote address by retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, former Joint Staff Surgeon and now the inaugural director of the White House Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy, and a panel discussion on “Casualty Care Across the Continuum.”

MHSRS is the DOD’s signature platform to showcase how innovation is integrated across the MHS enterprise—research, public health, surveillance, and more—and are all part of the solution to enable combat support in competition, crisis, and conflict and ensure the full continuum of health care delivery from the foxhole to the home front.

Major awards will be presented during MHSRS, including recognitions honoring distinguished service to the MHS and outstanding individual and team achievements. Additionally, the symposium will feature a “Young Investigator” competition, and over 1,300 scientific posters presentations. Look out for additional coverage of MHSRS awards.

“This state-of-the-science symposium calls together leaders in the field of multiple disciplines. I think attendees will be very impressed and encouraged by what our scientists, engineers, and clinicians from multiple institutions across the MHS are doing and the advancements we are making in research and development as it pertains to enhancing force readiness,” said Dr. Terry M. Rauch, executive director of health readiness policy and oversight and director of research and development with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.

Dr. Sean Biggerstaff, acting DHA deputy assistant director of research and engineering, said, “This symposium represents a critical confluence of DOD’s premier biomedical research community and the academic and industry partners that have helped us to be so successful in the development of materiel and knowledge products to support our warfighters. Over the last decade, we have worked hard to mature the way we manage the Defense Health Program Science and Technology investment. We’ve ensured our program areas are aligned to service and joint requirements, and we’ll be completing strategic research plans for all our portfolios over the next year or so. These plans will inform leadership of the direction we are headed and the products we’re developing to close capability gaps.”

As the DHA’s lead office for research and development, Biggerstaff’s team fosters materiel and knowledge solutions for improved warfighter health and readiness from concept to development. Their approach to centralize management and multi-year planning and budgeting of the Defense Health Program’s Science and Technology investments ensures they are aligned to prioritized joint requirements, focus on areas of greatest impact, and support accelerated delivery.

MHSRS will also feature an exposition showcasing dozens of displays from government, military, industry, and academic institutions. Government and military agencies participating including, Air Force Research Laboratory, Borden Institute, publisher of the Textbooks of Military Medicine; DHA Research and Engineering Directorate; Naval Health Research Center; and several components of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command.

Visit the 2023 MHSRS spotlight page on for more news and highlights from this year’s symposium and engage with us on social media using the #MHSRS2023 hashtag.

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Last Updated: September 06, 2023
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