Research team wins AMSUS training award

Cadet 2nd Class Zachary Bruhn researches algae lipid biofuels in the Life Science Research Center at the Air Force Academy Sept. 26, 2012. Bruhn is assigned to Cadet Squadron 01. (U.S. Air Force photo/Elizabeth Andrews)

Then-Cadet 2nd Class Zachary Bruhn researches algae lipid biofuels in the Air Force Academy's Life Science Research Center Sept. 26, 2012. A team of scientists from the Academy's Biology Department, along with the director of the Human Performance Lab, were named recipients of the Society of Federal Health Professionals' training and education award in November 2014, along with teams from six other Air Force Clinical Investigation Program teams, in part due to involving cadets in undergraduate research. (U.S. Air Force photo/Elizabeth Andrews)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Air Force Academy's Clinical Investigation Program team, along with teams from six other medical centers around the Air Force, was named a recipient of the Society of Federal Health Professionals' training and education award in November.

The Academy's CIP includes Drs. Don Veverka and Katherine Bates and Lt. Cols. Marcus King, Ryan Maresh and Craig Narasaki from the Academy's Biology Department as well as Lt. Col. Michael Zupan, the Human Performance Laboratory director.

The Academy's Biology Department engages with cadets on undergraduate medical research projects and prepares them for careers in medical career fields, Veverka said. Cadets also assist faculty with more in-depth projects.

The research opportunities help cadets compete for medical school appointments. Last year, every cadet who applied for medical, dental or nursing school was accepted, Veverka said.

"We had a banner year in 2014," he said, "and most of those cadets were involved with the Life Sciences Research Center ... doing medical research."

Another key accomplishment for the Academy's CIP was to have research published in the Journal of Military Medicine. The research, conducted by recent graduates 2nd Lts. Craig Nowadly and Jason David, involved methods of keeping biological detection agents effective even in austere, high-temperature environments. It was published to the peer-reviewed publication in June.

"Nowadly had worked on it for close to three years," Veverka said. "Jason David followed that work up and did his own part of the research." Veverka is listed as a co-author along with Dr. Melanie Grogger and retired Lt. Cols. Erik Demkowicz and Daniel Atchley.

Cadets are the key to the efforts that earned the Academy's CIP a place in the award, Veverka said.

"We could not complete the amount and level of research that we do within the Biology Department if we did not have the involvement of our cadets," he said. "They are the essence of what the award is about for us."

Other Air Force CIPs include teams at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas; the David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, Calif.; the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and the Wright-Patterson Medical Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; the Mike O'Callaghan Medical Center at Nellis AFB, Nev.; and the 81st Medical Group at Keesler AFB, Miss.

"We work together as a team, both within the Air Force Academy and in concert with other installations, all toward the common end of improving warfighter readiness," Veverka said. "This is really connected to supporting the warfighters and making sure they remain healthy."

The Society of Federal Health Professionals, previously known as the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, was chartered by Congress in 1903 to advance the knowledge of health care within federal agencies and increase the effectiveness of its members, according to the society's website.