Symposium Highlights Research Work

By Bernard S. Little, Walter Reed Bethesda Command Communications

The Department of Research Programs at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center recognized investigative work designed to advance patient care during its annual research symposium and poster competitions May 9–10.

“Research truly saves lives,” said Navy Cmdr. Robert A. Liotta, incoming director for education, training and research at WRNMMC.

“We often complain that the speed of science is excruciatingly slow. However, just in the last 10 years tremendous strides have been made [in research benefitting health care],” Liotta added. He explained that some of the advances included efforts in the Human Genome Project, treatments for Parkinson’s disease and HIV, as well as developments in the HPV vaccine, laparoscopic surgery and target therapies for cancers.

Over its history, Walter Reed Bethesda has contributed significantly to medical advancements, Liotta continued. He said during the early 1920s at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center, military dentist Army Maj. (Dr.) Fernando Vargas identified the bacteria which causes dental caries. Also at WRAMC during World War II, research efforts advanced processes for the collection and shipping of blood products and plasma. In 1944 at the Naval Hospital Bethesda, another of WRNMMC’s predecessors, three Navy dentists and a medical illustrator developed a process for fabricating acrylic eyes; and during the 1940s, a Navy radiologist wrote the first textbook on the subject of atomic medicine. In addition, treatment for a thyroid condition was also advanced at Naval Hospital Bethesda.

Liotta said in recent years, the Military Advanced Training Center at Walter Reed Bethesda has advanced the rehabilitative care of service members, and the medical center is currently pioneering efforts in cancer care and research, as well as a new orthopedic procedure known as osseointegration.

Dr. Yvonne Maddox, vice president for research at the Uniformed Services University, discussed the unity of effort in research between WRNMMC, USU and National Institutes of Health. She added research is “value added to patient care, as well as the window into giving our patient the very best care possible.”

Walter Reed Bethesda Chief of Staff Navy Capt. (Dr.) John Rotruck agreed, adding research is one of the pillars of the medical center. “The research you do today makes us better able to take care of our patients tomorrow. Through your research, we can ensure our patients have an extraordinary experience by receiving the highest quality, most cutting-edge care.”

Navy Capt. (Dr.) John Rotruck (left), Walter Reed Bethesda chief of staff, recognizes Army Maj. (Dr.) Jason Reese for earning the eveidence-based practice award for his research project at Departmnet of Research Program’s annual research symposium May 11, at Walter Reed Bethesda. (Photo by Bernard S. Little)

He agreed with Liotta that research is a part of the Walter Reed Bethesda legacy “starting with young Maj. Walter Reed and his efforts to eradicate yellow fever, and continuing at [the medical center] today.”

Awards earned by researchers who presented projects during the symposium are named after military medical investigative pioneers Army Col. (Dr.) Bailey K. Ashford, Navy Capt. (Dr.) Robert A. Phillips, and Dr. Paul Florentino.

Bailey first described and successfully treated North American hookworm during the late 1890s, as well as pioneering treatment of anemia while he was stationed in Puerto Rico during the early 1900s.

Throughout his career as a Navy physician, Phillips earned a reputation for his research and treatment of tropical diseases, including the development of a vaccine against trachoma. He was also instrumental in treatment of cholera during the late 1960s.

Florentino, a former Air Force flight surgeon and deputy commander of medical services at WRNMMC, helped guide the integration of the WRAMC and National Naval Medical Center, and he was a major contributor in shifting the paradigm of care from being primarily physician driven to physician, patient and family-centered.

Projects presented during the research symposium and poster contests focused on evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and patient and family-centered care.

Winners included: in the BKA laboratory category, Army Capt. Gabriel J. Pavey for her work Novel Pharmacologics to Mitigate the Formation of Heterotopic Ossification in An Established Rat Model; in the RAP fellow staff laboratory category, Air Force Maj. Kristen Zeligs, for the project Preclinical Characterization of a Novel Monoclonal Antibody Targeting a Neo-Antigen Expressed in Ovarian and GI Malignancies; and in the RAP resident lab category, Army Capt. Christopher M. Daniels for the project Validation of Nuclear ranslocation of an epigenetic regulator peptidomimetic in trauma-induced mesenchymal progenitor cells.

Winners also included: in the PFCC category, Georgina P. Blasco for her project Walter Reed Bethesda Tele-Audiology Proof of Concept; in the QI category, Joan Godich for her project Outbreak of S Aureus Septic Arthritis Following Intra-Articular Joint Injections: Infection-Prevention Interventions for Process Improvement; and in the EBP category, Army Maj. Jason Reese for his project An Evidence-Based Practice Improvement Project Based on the Updated Guidance for the Management of Myocardial Infraction/Acute Coronary Syndrome: A Significant Reduction in Unnecessary Orderable Testing and Laboratory Costs.

Winners also included: in the case report intern/resident category, Army Capt. Elizabeth Cleveland for the project Successful Tofacitinib Therapy for a Soldier with Alopecia Universalis; and in the category case report fellow/staff, Army Capt. Anna H. Isfort for the work Heterozygous mutation in FBN1 in a patient with short stature, joint hypermobility, and skin laxity.

Winners also included, in the category RAP, interns/residents lab, Army Capt. Christopher M. Daniels for his research Validation of Nuclear Translocation of an Epigenetic Regulator Peptidomimetic in Trauma-Induced Mesenchymal Progenitor; in the category RAP interns/residents clinical, Navy Lt. Luke Johnson for the work Reducing Complications Following Reversal of Combat-Associated Ostomies; in the category RAP, fellows/staff lab, Air Force Maj. Kristin Zeligs for her work Preclinical Characterization of a Novel Monoclonal Antibody Targeting a Neo-Antigen Expressed in Ovarian and Gastrointestinal Malignancies; and in the category RAP, fellows/staff clinical, Air Force Lt. Col. E. Matthew Ritter for his project Development of a Proficiency-Based Skills Curriculum for the Fundamentals of Endoscopic Surgery.

Winners also included: in the BKA lab category, Army Capt. Gabriel Pavey for the project Novel Pharmacologics to Mitigate the Formation of Heterotopic Ossification in an Established Rat Model; and in the BKA clinical category, Navy Lt. Cmdr. George C. Balazs for his project Safe Operation of the Brake Pedal Following Arthroscopic Hip Surgery.