Military Medicine and Medical Research as a Source of Inspiration and Innovation to Solve National Security and Health Challenges in the 21st Century

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Nanak S. Dhillon
Nayeon Jeon
Umut A. Gurkan
Anirban Sen Gupta
Robert A. Bonomo
Lawrence F. Drummy
Mei Zhang
Mark R. Chance


The history of military medicine and research is rife with examples of novel treatments and new approaches to heal and cure soldiers and others impacted by war’s devastation. In the 21st century, new threats, like climate change, are combined with traditional threats, like geopolitical conflict, to create novel challenges for our strategic interests. Extreme and inaccessible environments provide heightened risks for warfighter exposure to dangerous bacteria, viruses, and fungi, as well as exposure to toxic substances and extremes of temperature, pressure, or both providing threats to performance and eroding resilience. Back home, caring for our veterans is also a healthcare priority, and the diseases of veterans increasingly overlap with the health needs of an aging society. These trends of climate change, politics, and demographics suggest performance evaluation and resilience planning and response are critical to assuring both warfighter performance and societal health. The Cleveland ecosystem, comprising several hospitals, a leading University, and one of the nation’s larger Veteran’s Health Administration systems, is ideal for incubating and understanding the response to these challenges. In this review, we explore the interconnections of collaborations between Defense agencies, particularly Air Force and Army and academic medical center-based investigators to drive responses to the national health security challenges facing the United States and the world. 


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