Late Breaking News
DoD Overseas Labs Do Invaluable Research, Yet Remain Undervalued, Underfunded Cont.
Labs Need More Visibility
Peake, who presented recommendations from the report, said that Congress needs to provide “predictable and sustainable funding for the research mission.” He also recommended that the labs and their leadership do more to increase their visibility to Congress and others in Washington.
“Working with DoD legislative liaison folks, it is quite clear that senior military medical leaders could highlight their activities to Congress and the importance of their work,” said Peake.
The report also suggested that the labs could better communicate by reaching out to current and prospective business, university and foundation partners, as well as other federal government agencies, through user-friendly annual compendiums of successes that could make a quantitative case for the labs.
“The laboratories need clearer metrics — the number, for example of U.S. and allied soldiers inoculated or treated with products the laboratories developed,” the report stated.
In addition, it said, the labs should develop a “unified internet and social media strategy, including specialized media training for officers in each laboratory.”
Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, who spoke at the report’s release, said the study provided an “independent and an expert voice” on this issue. He acknowledged that getting the word out about what the labs are doing is important.
“We have got to put that out in front of everyone that for relatively little dollars, we get a huge benefit,” he said. “Not only in terms of protecting the citizenry of this nation and military folks specifically, but the additive value to world is just incredible.”
He acknowledged that troops often serve “silently” and in the background and so their value and contributions are not known widely. However, highlighting progress in the labs is important in order to create “the balance in terms of priorities.”
Another challenge cited in the report was constant staff turnover that can be disruptive to research. Overseas tours of duty for military researchers may only last two to three years.
Peake and his colleagues recommended that the Army and Navy modify personnel requirements for medical researchers and allow tours of duty at the overseas labs to be five years or longer, to minimize the disruption by staff turnover and accelerate the development of medical products. In addition, the team also recommended that a “dedicated career track in medical research” would help the labs continue to attract “top scientific talent.”