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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact:  Public Affairs Office

Date: October 15, 2007
No: 07-35

Commander's Workshop includes opportunity to view unique facilities

Tom Endrusick (right), U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), briefs William Howell (center), director, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), and other USAMRMC Commander's Workshop attendees, on the Biophysics and Modeling Lab Sept. 19. USARIEM hosted the Workshop which ran from Sept. 18-20 in Natick, Mass., and was attended by more than 50 command leaders and senior enlisted advisors. (Photo by Sarah Underhill.)

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NATICK, Mass. -- On Sept. 18-20, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) Commander's Workshop was held in Natick, Mass., with more than 50 command leaders and senior enlisted advisors participating. Hosted by the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), the event included a number of briefings.

Several presentations were focused on improving management practices, such as: "Business Development and Partnering," a "Contracting Update," and "Lean Six Sigma Projects from Commands."

Training was another area emphasized with "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury Chain Teaching/Fiscal Year 08 Training Guidance," and "R&D Core Competencies and Competency Management; and DTRA/BRAC/Discussion on Long-Term Solution of Management."

On Sept. 19, after overviews on USARIEM and the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, the group had an opportunity to visit unique facilities at USARIEM, located on the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center installation in Natick.

The tour included stops at the Doriot Climatic Chambers, the Altitude Chamber, the Biophysics and Modeling Lab, the Cold Research Lab, the Center for Military Biomechanics Research, and the Metabolic Kitchen.

As the visitors were standing in the Tropic Chamber side of the Climatic Chambers receiving a briefing about the Chambers and the range of temperatures they can reach (Arctic Chamber down to 70 degrees F below zero, while the Tropic Chamber up to 165 degrees F), one member of the group joked, "well, at least we got to visit the right chamber."

The discussion soon turned serious with a conversation about the recruitment and retention of human research volunteers (HRVs). HRVs are Soldiers recruited after their Advanced Individual Training to participate in studies and evaluations at Natick. Initially recruited for 90 days, sometimes the arrival and departure of HRVs can impact studies if there are not enough volunteers available. Someone from the group mentioned the idea and difficulties with using civilians, such as medical care and insurance. "There aren't any solutions yet," said one of the attendees.

While in the Biophysics and Modeling Lab, the visitors got to meet "Uncle Wiggly," a thermal manikin that lets the researchers at USARIEM evaluate clothing for thermal and water vapor resistance properties. Having the information available from the manikin lets USARIEM create its premier product, predictive models, said Tom Endrusick, research physical scientist.

After the presentation on the Altitude Chamber, where an actual study was going on, one of the visitors commented that although he had visited USARIEM before it was remarkable how the work is progressing to improve conditions for the Soldier.

"It's amazing how much more has been done that improves [the Soldier's] quality of life," William Howell, director, USAMRMC, said. "Even just over the last 10 years."

The last day of the workshop included briefings about the future. Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, Office of the Surgeon General, spoke on the "Army Medical Department's Strategic Path Ahead," while the final event of the day was a discussion on "Commander's Issues," that included "Future Positions."

"Hosting the workshop was an excellent opportunity for USARIEM to showcase and highlight our research areas and capabilities to the MRMC leadership," said Col. Beau Freund, commander, USARIEM. "Spending three days together allowed the Command to collectively address some tough issues and continue to plan and shape our future."

This page last updated on 10 May 2006.