September 18, 2019
The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research is a leader in the global fight against the world’s most pervasive and high impact infectious diseases. Its Department of Laboratory Diagnostics and Monitoring (DLDM) within the U.S. Military HIV Research Program plays a critical role in helping the Department of Defense in its efforts to control HIV infection and transmission within the U.S. military.
Focused on supporting clinical laboratory and clinical research programs for HIV and HIV-related infections, DLDM operates five laboratories: the HIV Diagnostics and Reference Laboratory, Leishmania Diagnostic Laboratory, Clinical Evaluation Unit, Technology Assessment Laboratory, and the Specimen Processing Laboratory and BioRepository. In addition to HIV and HIV-related infections, the labs also focus on prevalent and emerging pathogens identified as a potential threat to the U.S. military or national security interests, including Zika, Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome and Tick-borne encephalitis.
Leveraging their state-of-the-art labs, DLDM provides clinical laboratory support to U.S. military service members and their beneficiaries as well as clinical research support for the U.S. Military HIV Research Program, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, the Medical Research and Development Command, the U.S. Army, and the Department of Defense. DLDM has also been a significant contributor in updating HIV surveillance and case definitions for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command leaders recently elevated DLDM to the organizational level of a branch in recognition of its role as a world-class leader in the development of diagnostic countermeasures for HIV. Beginning in 2019 it will transition from the U.S. Military HIV Research Program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to become the new Diagnostics and Countermeasures Branch at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
“The restructuring into a Diagnostics and Countermeasures Branch will fulfill a long standing request from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command to bring in house the entire Army HIV Force Testing Services mission,” said its new director, Sheila Peel, MSPH, Ph.D. “This involves performing approximately 1,200,000 HIV tests per year.”
As it prepares to transition into more than 33,000 square feet of laboratory and administrative space, the new Diagnostics and Countermeasures Branch anticipates an expanded role with a brand-new set of challenges coming its way. “This is an incredible opportunity,” said Janice Darden, currently Director of Operations for DLDM and soon to be the Chief of Operations for the Diagnostics and Countermeasure Branch. “We look forward to continuing to serve our warfighters and their families as well as conducting research that also has far-reaching implications for public health and disease prevention in the civilian population.”