JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas — Innovative medical advancements do not happen overnight; they take a lot of hard work by many dedicated people. At the 59th Medical Wing, the devotion of the Science & Technology Office continues to advance military medical care and capabilities.
“Through cutting-edge, scientific support and expertise, the science and technology office finds new ways to protect and improve the health and welfare of military members and beneficiaries,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Steel, 59th MDW deputy chief scientist.
As part of the 59th MDW Chief Scientist’s Office, ST includes four major programs: clinical investigations and research support; diagnostics and therapeutics research; nursing research; and trauma and clinical care research. The office also has a direct liaison relationship with dental research.
Clinical Investigation and Research Support and Clinical Research Division (CRD)
The 59th MDW CRD is the largest biomedical research facility in the Air Force. It provides centralized administrative, scientific and regulatory oversight and guidance in the development and performance of institutional and national operational and clinical research.
The CRD also supports 59th MDW certification training requirements for residents, fellows, nurses, and allied health care staff and providers. Additionally, the CRD manages the most active clinical investigation program in the Air Force.
Diagnostics and Therapeutics Program
The diagnostics and therapeutics program addresses mission capability gaps in order to enhance products that relate to the improved health care of warfighters, their families and other beneficiaries.
Nursing Research Program
The 59th MDW Nursing Research Program is one of three nursing research cells in the Air Force. The program conducts and promotes studies that optimize nursing practices and patient outcomes and health. Research results are used to improve nursing education and training throughout the Military Health System.
Trauma and Clinical Care Research Program
The trauma and clinical care research program focuses on identifying differences in military pre-hospital and hospital capabilities. Its goal is to improve trauma critical care, hemorrhage control, and resuscitation for all areas outside of, and en route to, a primary care facility.
According to Steel, ST is responsible for developing many of today’s life-saving devices and techniques, including:
• The Trauma Specific Vascular Injury Shunt was developed by the 59th MDW through ST research as a way to reroute blood away from an injured area, assisting in saving both life and limb. In conditions that are far from ideal, this device can be placed above and below injuries, bridging wounds to restore blood flow.
• The Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta is a specialized balloon that can halt arterial bleeding, greatly reducing blood loss. At Travis Air Force Base, California, earlier this year, medics credited the device for saving the life of a gunshot victim who was losing blood too fast and would not have survived long enough to reach surgery.
• The 59th MDW also developed the mobile Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation system and manages it from the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, here. ECMO is used to bypass the heart and lungs for patients with critical heart and respiratory failure.
“Typically, we can reduce a patient’s chance of dying from 80 to 90 percent down to 30 to 40 percent. When you’re talking about people this sick, the difference is actually a major victory,” said Lt. Col. Phillip Mason, ECMO team lead.
“We apply the knowledge gained through research to enhance performance, protect our Airmen, and advance medical care and capabilities across the global health system,” said Dr. Debra Niemeyer, 59th MDW chief scientist and scientific advisor.
“The 59th MDW is known for cutting-edge research and innovation, driving paradigm changes in patient care,” she added.
For more information about ST and its programs, visit www.59mdw.af.mil/Units/ChiefScientist-ST.aspx.