Joint Base San Antonio

07/21/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/21/2017 12:03

U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research gains fellowship recipients

By Dr. Steven Galvan | U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Public Affairs | July 21, 2017


In 2016, the Shock Society partnered with the Department of Defense to offer two fellowships to Shock Society members to conduct research in trauma, hemorrhage shock and sepsis.

The fellowship, named the Shock Society-Department of Defense Battlefield Health and Trauma Fellowship in San Antonio, is for post-doctoral fellows or medical/dental residents or clinical fellows to conduct research at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research or the Navy Medical Research Unit-San Antonio, collocated at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.

The first recipient of the fellowship awarded in 2016 was Dr. Tony Chao, who earned a Ph.D. in biomedical science from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, in December 2016. The second fellowship slot was awarded to another UTMC student in May to Dr. Michael Wetzel, who earned his Ph.D. in cell biology.

Chao is starting his second year at the USAISR, which is an option of the program.

'My first year has been a great experience thus far,' he said. 'I came from a unit doing solely clinical work so the switch was quite a drastic change. I have been getting some extensive hands-on experience. The USAISR is equipped with some of the most state-of-the-art equipment, and I've been able to continue to build my laboratory skills. My fellow colleagues and mentors are some of the most intelligent and supportive people that I have had the honor to work with. I'm very thankful for the opportunity to do my postdoctoral work here.'

Wetzel applied for the fellowship to continue honing his research skills and to be closer to home.

'I applied for the program because the institution where I did my graduate work at has collaborations with USAISR, and I wanted to take what I had learned into a setting that did similar work,' Wetzel said. 'I also wanted to move back to San Antonio because I grew up here and my parents live here.'

Wetzel will be working with Joseph 'Josh' Wenke, Ph.D., manager of the USAISR extremity trauma and regenerative medicine, who believes these fellowships are a win-win for the Shock Society and the DOD.

'It formalizes the collaboration between the Shock Society and the DOD research,' Wenke said. 'For the society, it broadens their participation into battlefield injuries. For the DOD, it allows us make members of the society, especially academic institutions, aware of our mission and research efforts.'

Chao added that he is excited to continue his research in the Damage Control Resuscitation task area.

'With all the support and resources surrounding me here at the USAISR, I am looking forward to a very productive second year in my fellowship,' he said. 'Without a doubt, the training that I had and will continue to receive here at the USAISR will provide a strong foundation to further progress me in my goal to become an independent investigator.'

Wetzel is just as excited to start his first year at the USAISR.

'I am very grateful for this opportunity,' he said. 'I believe it will benefit me by requiring me to think along clinical lines. In the past my main experience was in basic science focusing on cellular and molecular medicine, so working at USAISR will require me to shift my mindset to practical applications of research. I hope to expand my knowledge and publish several first author papers about the effects of drugs and treatments on extremity wound healing and infection.'

Wenke said that he looks forward to mentoring Wetzel and conducting research that benefits Wounded Warriors.

'It is vital for us to attract good early career scientists as they bring in new perspectives, experiences and skills and apply them to combat casualty care problems,' Wenke said.