SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Two members of the California Governor's Military Council visited the Naval Health Research Center (NHRC), Navy Medicine's only research lab on the West Coast, to get an overview of the command's research and development initiatives, March 14.
The Governor's Military Council was established in 2013 by Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. to support the military in California with a focus on growing defense and national security missions in state administration.
The council members, retired Rear Adm. James Johnson and retired Maj. Gen. Dennis Kenneally, got an up-close look at the command's laboratories and research capabilities during a tour. They also met with NHRC senior leaders and scientists and discussed current research initiatives, partnerships with state academic institutions, and areas of mutual interest.
While visiting NHRC's operational infectious diseases labs, council members learned about disease surveillance along California's U.S.-Mexico border and at military hospitals and clinics throughout Southern California. Researchers work to identify potential disease threats with the aim of preventing or mitigating outbreaks.
"Diseases don't have borders," said Dr. Kenneth Earhart, chief scientist at NHRC and infectious disease physician. "The surveillance work done by our researchers serves as an early warning system, not only for our military, but for civilian populations as well."
Earhart pointed out that it was NHRC researchers who identified the first two cases of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, allowing U.S. public health officials to respond promptly to the outbreak.
Johnson and Kenneally also toured the Warfighter Performance Laboratory where scientists discussed NHRC's research in the fields of environmental physiology, sleep and fatigue, injury prevention, and human performance optimization. This 6,000 square foot facility houses an environmental chamber, two-bedroom sleep lab, and immersive virtual reality system.
"The research we are conducting to improve the health, readiness, performance, and survivability of our warfighters has applicability to California's first responders," said Capt. Matthew Hebert, NHRC's executive officer.
From studies evaluating heat exposure guidelines to prevent injuries among Sailors working in high heat conditions, to research examining the impact of carrying heavy loads on performance and injury risk, NHRC's research findings could have practical application not only for U.S. service members, but also for civilian fire fighters, law enforcement, and emergency medical personnel, said Hebert.
As the DoD's premier deployment health research center, NHRC's cutting-edge research and development is used to optimize the operational health and readiness of the nation's armed forces. In proximity to more than 95,000 active duty service members, world-class universities, and industry partners, NHRC sets the standard in joint ventures, innovation, and translational research.
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