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‘Young Investigators’ and Poster Awardees Spotlight Important Research

Image of Ian Stanley, with the department of emergency medicine at Anschutz Center for Combat Medicine and Battlefield, University of Colorado School of Medicine, receives first place in the 2023 Military Health System Research Symposium Young Investigator Competition for his presentation titled, “Lethal Means Safety Counseling Among Firearm-Owning U.S. National Guard Personnel: Hyperarousal Symptoms as a Moderator of Treatment Outcomes” at the 2023 MHSRS in Kissimmee, Florida, Aug. 17. (Photo: Robbie Hammer). Ian Stanley, with the department of emergency medicine at Anschutz Center for Combat Medicine and Battlefield, University of Colorado School of Medicine, receives first place in the 2023 Military Health System Research Symposium Young Investigator Competition for his presentation titled, “Lethal Means Safety Counseling Among Firearm-Owning U.S. National Guard Personnel: Hyperarousal Symptoms as a Moderator of Treatment Outcomes” at the 2023 MHSRS in Kissimmee, Florida, Aug. 17. (Photo: Robbie Hammer)

The Young Investigators competition recognized the future of military health research at the 2023 Military Health System Research Symposium, awarding residents, fellows, doctoral candidates, post-docs, and individuals within five years of graduation from a terminal degree. Researchers with poster presentations also received awards presented in Kissimmee, Florida, on August 17.

U.S. Air Force Col. Scott Sonnek, deputy chief, Airman Biosciences Division of the 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, moderated the ceremony, opening with words of praise for the award winners.

“We’re here to celebrate you beginning this process of your life's work and the great meaning of contributing to the pyramid of science,” said Sonnek. “On top of it, you're doing it in the service of those who serve.”

Young Investigator Award Winners Named

Eligible research was funded by the Department of Defense with data directly relevant to one of the four MHSRS focus areas: warfighter medical readiness, expeditionary medicine, warfighter performance, or return to duty. 

This year’s competition received 363 abstracts for consideration. Twelve young investigators representing the top 3% of submissions gave 10-minute oral presentations of their research. The top three presentations received awards.

Ian H. Stanley, with the department of emergency medicine at Anschutz Center for Combat Medicine and Battlefield, University of Colorado School of Medicine, received first place. His presentation, “Lethal Means Safety Counseling Among Firearm-Owning U.S. National Guard Personnel: Hyperarousal Symptoms as a Moderator of Treatment Outcomes,” discussed existing lethal means safety counseling, a health care intervention promoting safe firearm storage to lower suicide risk for individuals with hyperarousal symptoms.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Zahari N. Tchopev of the 959th Medical Operations Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, earned second place for his presentation, “Incidence and Clinical Features of Nightmare Disorder and Trauma Associated Sleep Disorder in U.S. Military Personnel with Sleep Disturbances.” Tchopev’s research compared patients with nightmare disorder and trauma associated sleep disorder, finding that TSD appears to be clinically distinct and more severe.

Andrew R. Clark of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Services won third prize for “Combating Volumetric Muscle Loss: An Investigation of Two-Stage Treatment Strategy Utilizing an Acute Muscle Void Filler Followed by Delayed Definitive Treatment.” The objective of Clark’s study was to develop and evaluate a multi-staged treatment approach for volumetric muscle loss, the traumatic or surgical loss of skeletal muscle resulting in functional impairment.

Honorable mentions went to presentations by:

Poster Competition Winners

MHSRS also featured three poster sessions sharing information about ongoing research with winners selected from each session.

‘Best in Show’ Poster Competition Winner

There was one “best in show” poster winner, Rebekah Ford, a student with the department of emergency medicine, University of Utah, for her presentation “Evaluation of Shelf Stable Blood Products for Resuscitation in a Canine Model of Hemorrhagic Shock.”

Session One Poster Winners:

First place: U.S. Air Force Capt. Micaela Cuneo, resident physician at Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas, for “Feasibility of Endovascular Localization of Non-Compressible Torso Hemorrhage Using Swine (Sus scrofa): A Pilot Study.”

Second place: Eric Snider, biomedical engineer, Organ Support and Automation Technologies Group, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, Joint Base San Antonio—Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, for “Evaluation of Adaptive Closed Loop Hemorrhagic Shock Resuscitation Controllers.”

Third place: Gordon Kennedy, project scientist, Beckman Laser Institute, University of California, Irvine, California, for “Classifying Severity of Burn Wounds in a Porcine Model Resulting from Microwave Energy Exposure Using Multispectral Spatial Frequency Domain Imaging and Machine Learning.”

Honorable mention: Camilla Knott, director, performance research, TiER1 Performance, Washington, D.C., for “Patient Handoffs in Austere Environments: Training Evaluation in a Field Exercise.”

Honorable mention: U.S. Air Force Maj. William T. Davis, medical director, En route Care Research Center, 59th Medical Wing, Science and Technology, Defense Health Agency, San Antonio, Texas, for “Reliability of Continuous Noninvasive Hemoglobin Monitoring in Health Participants During En Route Care Training.”

Session Two Poster Winners:

First place: Jonathan Elliott, clinical research program lead­—research physiologist,  Department of Veterans Affairs, Portland Health Care System, Research Service, and Oregon Health and Science University, Department of Neurology, Portland, Oregon, for “Heart Rate Variability During Wake and Sleep in Veterans with Comorbid Traumatic Brain Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and REM Sleep Behavior Disorder.”

Second place: Jillian T. Allen, registered dietician, Military Nutrition Division, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, Massachusetts, for “Essential Amino Acid-Enriched Diets Alter Perceived Appetite and Fullness without Diminishing Energy Intake During Arctic Military Training.”

Third place: Kristina Clarke-Walper, lead psychology technician, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Maryland, for her presentation, “Medics’ Capacity for Delivering Behavioral Healthcare in Future Operating Environments: Is Burnout a Factor?”

Honorable mention: Krystina Diaz, Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory, Groton, Connecticut, for “Rapid Serial Visual Presentation: Mechanisms and Effects on Visual Search Performance in Complex Scenes.”

Honorable mention: Adam Walsh, senior scientist, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Department of Psychiatry, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, for “Implementation of Interventions for Prevention of Suicides and Other Harmful Behaviors.”

Session Three Poster Winners:

First place: Prakash Nallathamby, associate director of research, Berthiaume Institute for Precision Health, University of Notre Dame, and Bioengineering Graduate Program - AME, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, for “Wound Healing Promoted by Broad-Spectrum, Phage Structure Mimicking, Synthetic Antibacterial Nanoparticles as a Topical or an Intravenous Formulation, Which Cleared MDR ESKAPE Pathogens Induced Infections in Wound Models.”

Second Place: Danielle Ali, biologic scientist, Biological Defense Research Directorate, Naval Medical Research Center—Frederick, Fort Detrick, Maryland, for “An Automated, Virus Variant-Programmable, Surrogate Neutralization Test Is Qualitatively Comparable to the Gold Standard SARS-CoV-2 Cell-Based Neutralization Assay.”

Third place: Dr. Daniel Weiss, professor of pulmonary medicine, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, for “Regenerative Tracheal Implants from 3D-Printed Advanced Biomaterials with Integrated Decellularized Extracellular.”

Honorable mention: Jonathon Scofield, assistant professor, University of California Davis, Sacramento, California, for his presentation, “Establishing Bionic Prosthetic Control in Individuals Receiving Targeted Muscle Reinnervation for Pain Prevention.”

Honorable mention: Anna Adetona, toxicologist, Battelle Memorial Institute, Regional Sites and Columbus, Ohio, for “Force Health Protection: Understanding Emerging Health Risks in the Arctic and the Threat of Pathogen Reanimation from Melting Permafrost due to Climate Change.”

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