During an open house last week, the Biomedical Research Laboratory at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) offered staff and residents, from across the region, a glance at their many resources, supporting patient care, medical treatment and graduate education.
Located in Building 17, the lab uses innovative technology to perform and support research in three main areas - biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, and immunology, said Dr. Keith Inman, the lab's science director.
"This is a really exciting place to be. This research should prove invaluable to the new integrated institution," said Inman. He explained research conducted in the lab, to collect preliminary data, could be used to support grant applications, thereby leading to long-term projects.
Among the many capabilities in the biochemistry lab, researchers can study metabolic conditions, such as problems with blood clotting. Work in this lab often overlaps with the immunology lab, which involves screening for genetic conditions, analyzing and sorting immune cells to determine, for example, if a disease was induced. In the molecular and cell biology lab, on the other hand, researchers analyze and study genes, looking at which cells change during disease. Allowing research projects in these disciplines to continue on an ongoing basis, the Biomedical Research Lab provides the necessary equipment and infrastructure, Inman said.
During the lab's open house, WRNMMC Chief of Staff Col. Charles Callahan noted that the research and education provided by the lab is what moves health care forward.
"The medical center is very fortunate to have you," Callahan said to several medical technologists, working in the molecular and cell biology lab. He added, "There's no such thing as a medical center that's world class without research. It's great that you're here."
In addition to providing state-of-the-art equipment, as well as subject matter experts, technical assistants, and lab work space, part of the Biomedical Research Lab's mission is to allow graduate medical education students, along with other allied health professionals, opportunities to advance in their academics, said Army Lt. Col. Mary Klote, chief of WRNMMC's Department of Research Program, overseeing the Biomedical Research Laboratory.
Clinical investigations and research are an essential part of an academic medical center, she said, adding that they are also in line with the vision that the facility is a world class medical center.
"That's what drives medicine forward. It's what drives residents, fellows and nurses in their careers. It helps them with academic promotion. It [also] focuses on advancing the medical treatment that we can offer," she said.
The open house, held Nov. 8, was an opportunity to promote these resources available to researchers, who are interested in bench lab research as well as clinical trials, she said. She noted the incredible amount of space and equipment available in the lab, and she hopes more residents and fellows will be drawn to take advantage of all its capabilities. On March 19, 2012, the WRNMMC Department of Research Programs plans to host the National Capital Area Research Summit, bringing in researchers from across the region - another opportunity to showcase expertise available and in close proximity.
Now located in the same building, the Naval Medical Research Command's (NMRC) Clinical Trials Center works closely with the lab. Formerly known as the Malaria Clinical Trials Center and previously located in Building 141, the center hosts outpatient clinical trials, supporting collaborative medical treatment facility clinical trials.
"Most of the research we've been focusing on has been for vaccines, but we're also trying to expand our scope to perform trials to meet the needs of the warfighter," said Cmdr. Charmagne Beckett, the center's director. "We see the Biomedical Research [Lab] as a potential resource for us to expand our capabilities here in the Clinical Trial Center."
Having been on base, what is now Naval Support Activity Bethesda, for about a decade, the Clinical Trial Center is also dedicated to helping with Graduate Medical Education endeavors, helping residents with research projects, said Beckett, as well as cooperative projects within the hospital.
"We have world class research, [and] we're interested in working together with other researchers to help them with any type of clinical research they need," she said.
For more information about the Biomedical Research Lab, call 301-295-8279. For information about the Clinical Care Center, call Cmdr. Beckett at 301-295-5693, or call the center directly at 301-295-4298.