From Battlefield to Bedside: Navy Biomedical Research

Dr. Wayman Wendell Cheatham. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Dr. Wayman Wendell Cheatham. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

By Christen N. McCluney
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

Navy researchers are supporting today’s warfighter with new advances in biomedical research and development.

“Medical research and development activity provides the inspiration for discovery and further development of new ideas, new concepts, new drugs or surgical interventions,” Dr. Wayman Cheatham, special assistant for medical research to the Navy surgeon general and director of the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery’s Navy Medicine Research and Development Center, said during a DoD Live Bloggers Roundtable yesterday.

Cheatham said Navy Surgeon General Vice Adm. (Dr.) Adam M. Robinson Jr. has established five areas of priority in terms of strategic research to support the Defense Department as a whole as well as those under the care of Navy Health. Those priorities are traumatic brain injury and psychological health, medical system support for maritime and expeditionary operations, wound and injury management throughout the continuum of care, hearing restoration and protection and undersea medicine.

You can listen to the interview, or read the transcript. Both options are easy, fun, and informative!

This overall research the Navy does to support these areas include surveillance for emerging disease, drug and vaccine development, researching environmental toxins, and medical research and development supporting force protection. To support these efforts, the Navy has medical research and clinical investigation operations on five continents, as well as among the islands of the Pacific Ocean.

Cheatham said one of the Navy’s latest developments in research has been trying to determine the best agent to stop bleeding in people wounded on the battlefield. Through a collaborative effort with the Army, researchers developed QuikClot combat gauze, a wrap for wounds that seems to be more effective in controlling bleeding.

He said the latest technologies in wound and injury management are providing the greatest degree of survival and return of individuals to functionality following injury in any conflict.

“Greater than 95 percent of individuals now who are injured on the battlefield, when reached and found to be alive, survive their injuries through a long continuum of care,” he said, calling that survival rate “astounding and historical.”

The Navy also is researching the use of hyperbaric oxygen chambers in treating traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress, he said.

“We have been involved in a number of very significant research projects,” he added. “It’s important that the question of hyperbaric oxygen utilization for treatment of traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder be investigated in a very, very rigorous and ethical fashion.”

Monitoring the long-term effects of service on submarines to determine whether unanticipated situations develop or health concerns emerge is another area of ongoing research, Cheatham said, and Navy researchers also are working with agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization in vaccine development.

“Navy laboratories have been integral to the process of investigation and vaccine development by means of their being deployed around the world,” he said. “They have an opportunity to actually be first on hand to sample outbreaks of infection or illness and determine the actual type of virus that might be involved. So Navy serves as a very, very important link in the worldwide surveillance and intervention process.”

Citing concerns about using resources to the fullest extent possible, Cheatham said he can assure the public that the Navy is carrying out its commitment to the highest caliber of research and medical education, and that those two areas are being maintained as strategic priorities for the Navy.

“New linkages between research and development and our clinical activities at our medical treatment facilities are evidence of this type of commitment,” he said.

This blog post was shared with us by the American Forces Press Service (AFPS).

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6 Responses to From Battlefield to Bedside: Navy Biomedical Research

  1. Srajagopalan says:

    Are there opportunities for Small Businesses to be collaborating with in these areas of research?

  2. I know a lot of athletes use hyperbaric oxygen chambers to recover faster, something about stimulating the white blood cells to heal the body quicker. Very exciting research!

      • Drbuza says:

        In regards to using HBO in the field for wounded soldiers I have been trying to communicate it's effectiveness and justification for research for over 10 years now. I'm very happy to see that it is taking hold. As a neurologist, diving medicine, clinical hyperbaric medicine and aviation physiology specialist I can safely say that the upcoming research has a high probability of finding statistically significant benefits for our wounded soldiers. I predict that HBO will be most effective when provided acutely in the field immediately after injury when compared to chronic head injury. This is due to the powerful effect of reducing brain swelling. It must be done within the first 24 hours and continuasly daily for at least 5 days. This most likely will help prevent brain cell death. Special thanks to Dr. Cheatham to head up the research.

        Dr. Paul Buza Founder and Medical Director of SAMI.

  3. Amy Tursky says:

    Is there a way to gt this podcast on CD?