26 July 2013
The Few, the Proud, the U.S. Public Health Service: “Protect, Promote, and Advance the Health and Safety of Our Nation”

By the CDMRP PHS Officers

Although a U.S. Army post, Fort Detrick is no stranger to Air Force, Marines and Navy personnel but one service you may not recognize is the U.S. Public Health Service. Officers in the PHS are assigned throughout Fort Detrick at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, the Barquist Army Health Clinic, the National Center for Medical Intelligence, and the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, just to name a few locations.

Overseen by the U.S. Surgeon General, the PHS is a cadre of more than 6,500 public health professionals. These officers fill essential public health leadership and clinical service roles within the Nation’s Federal Government Departments and agencies. Such agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services include the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indian Health Service, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, among other organizations. Officers are also assigned outside of HHS in agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, White House National Security Staff, and the Department of Homeland Security. Unlike the other services, which have dental, medical, and nurse corps, for example, the PHS is so small that it is divided into 12 categories of physicians, dentists, behavioral health, clinical and rehabilitation therapists, dietitians, engineers, environmental health, health services, nurses, pharmacists, scientists, and veterinarians.

For more than 200 years, the PHS has been our Nation’s frontline protecting against the spread of disease from sailors returning from foreign ports, maintaining the health of immigrants entering the country, and supporting communities affected by natural and manmade disasters. The Corps’ response to the health threats posed by Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Hurricane Sandy, and the bombings in Boston, underscores the value to our Nation of having a multidisciplinary and quickly mobilized cadre of medical professionals. Corps officers are involved in disease control and prevention, biomedical research, regulation of food and drugs, mental health and drug abuse, and health care delivery.

According the Commissioned Corps Management System, there are 282 officers assigned to the Department of Defense on various installations and agencies.

Many of these officers fall under a memorandum of agreement that established the initiative known as the DoD-PHS Partners in Mental Health: Supporting our Service Members and their Families. The PHS mental health providers are detailed to military treatment facilities to treat service members who are returning from overseas deployment, as well as retirees and family members.

At Fort Detrick, there are four PHS officers assigned to the CDMRP. Capt. Leigh Sawyer is a veterinarian, Capt. Angela Martinelli and Cmdr. Alexis Mosquera are nurses, and Cmdr. Mark Clayton is a scientist. Their primary duty at CDMRP is to serve as Science Officers by managing grant portfolios for a variety of research programs. Using their scientific training and expertise, they work with principle research investigators and various U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command agencies to facilitate processes integral to the successful execution of research awards. From providing technical review assistance to the U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity during pre-award negotiations to reviewing annual technical progress reports, Science Officers play an integral part in helping to assist funded investigators with meeting their intended research goals.

Both Sawyer and Mosquera are new to the CDMRP, but each comes with vast experience from within and outside HHS. Prior to joining the CDMRP, she served as the BioWatch Public Health and Preparedness Director, in the Office of Health Affairs, DHS. Sawyer is serving in the Multiple Sclerosis Research Program and holds a varied portfolio of research projects that are relevant to the prevention, etiology, pathogenesis, assessment, and treatment of Multiple Sclerosis.

Before joining CDMRP, Mosquera was an epidemiologist at the FDA. At the CDMRP, she is serving in the Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program. This program supports research across the full range of science and medicine, with an underlying goal of enhancing the health and well-being of uniformed service personnel, their families, and the veteran population. Mosquera has participated in numerous national and international deployments with the PHS as well as with other non-governmental organizations.

Martinelli’s portfolio includes studies in the Defense Medical Research and Development, Psychological Health/Traumatic Brain Injury and Lung Cancer programs. Examples of studies within her portfolio include the Detection of Early Lung Cancer among Military Personnel, Transitioning the Defense Automated Neurobehavioral Assessment to Operational Use, and A Medical Center Network for Optimized Lung Cancer Biospecimen Banking. In addition, she is the program manager for the Defense Heath Affairs Clinical Research Initiative, Intramural Investigator-Initiated Research Program. Martinelli continues to practice at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and with Operating Smile International.

Clayton, a PHS scientist, currently serves as the Deputy Director for Grants Management at the CDMRP. As DDGM, Clayton provides management oversight of over 3000 active awards, acts as the CDMRP’s liaison to other organizations within the USAMRMC, and maintains a grant portfolio of over $47 million. He is also a member of the PHS Rapid Deployment Force Team #2, serving within the Admin/Finance section and was deployed during Hurricane Sandy. Prior to joining the CDMRP, he was detailed to the Indoor Environments Division within the Environmental Protection Agency as a chemist. Clayton served 11 years in the Army as an Environmental Science Officer, has held academic positions, and has worked at General Electric Appliances as an analytical chemist.

These officers have been warmly welcomed and quickly integrated into the DoD team. Col. Jeffrey Leggit, CDMRP director, recently described the CDMRP PHS officers.

“The PHS Officers detailed to the CDMRP are some of the most professional and competent individuals I have ever had the pleasure to work with,” said Leggit. “They have become invaluable members of the team, and embody the Army Medicine motto, ‘Serving to Heal - Honored to Serve.’”

For more information on USPHS, visit http://www.usphs.gov/, and for the CDMRP, visit http://cdmrp.army.mil/.

Posted by PAO

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