Thursday, July 17, 2008

New commander takes on WRAIR mission

Maj. Gen. George Weightman (left), commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, gives the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research colors to its new commander, Col. Kent Kester during Monday’s change of command ceremony.
The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research at Walter Reedís Forest Glen Annex, welcomed Col. Kent Kester as its new commander during a ceremony Monday at Forest Glen.

Kester replaced Col. Kenneth Bertram, who commanded WRAIR since Jan. 11, 2006. Bertram assumes a new position at WRAIRís headquarters in the Medical Research and Materiel Command, Fort Detrick, Md.

With more than two decades of experience in Army medicine, Kester said he is honored to lead the militaryís largest biomedical research institute, which employs about 2,000 Soldiers and civilians. The institute is responsible for countering threats to service-members from naturally occurring infectious diseases, high energy and trauma, and stress and performance.

The scientists of WRAIR deploy with troops across the world, including Africa and Thailand, extending the instituteís reach well beyond the laboratories walls at Silver Spring, Md.

ìThere is a fusion of highly-dedicated researchers and support staff of military and civilian personnel recruited from across the globe to tackle health issues confronting not only our Soldier but also health problems that afflict people worldwide,î said Kester.

Kester added that he will build on his predecessorís achievements, including the cooperative development of anti-malaria and viral vaccines, as well as advances in trauma and mental health training for Soldiers. He also acknowledged the collaboration with WRAIR and other organizations greatly contributed to the instituteís successes.

ìOur continued cooperation with our scientific partners in the federal, business and academic arenas is vital for our success in the development of new products and solutions for the Warfighter,î Kester said.

During his command, Kester will also see the organization through the impact of the Base Realignment and Closure process, or BRAC, which will shift more of the instituteís focus on research efforts on the treatment and prevention of infectious disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and traumatic brain injury.

ìWe have made major advances in the understanding and treatment of head trauma and PTSD, which has lead to the development of effective prevention strategies,î said Kester.

ìWe will continue to be a world leader in combating the neuropsychological injuries related to combat deployment. We will also continue to expand our research into the vital areas of treatment,î he added. (WRAIR)