Center for Infectious Disease Research


Historically, infectious diseases have posed a significant threat to Soldier health and readiness and typically constituted the majority of deaths in deployed military units. In this environment, WRAIR's predecessor, the Army Medical School, was created in 1893 - it's founder, Army Surgeon General George Sternberg remarked that the "duty of an Army Medical officer is to preserve the efficiency of his command by guarding it against unsanitary influence and preventing disability from diseases." Nearly 50 years later, during World War 2, General Douglas MacArthur complained "this will be a long war if for every division I have facing the enemy, I must count on a second division in the hospital with malaria and a third division convalescing from this debilitating disease!"

It is the nature of modern military operations that Soldiers must be prepared to be stationed abroad for extended periods of time, sometimes with short notice and in regions where they have little to no inborn immunity to endemic disease threats. In order for the fighting force to remain intact, ready, and lethal, they require safe and effective medical countermeasures.

WRAIR's Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDR) combines scientific expertise with product development capabilities to address the full range of diseases of national security importance to the U.S. Military. CIDR scientists, along with their collaborators, surveil the incidence and evolution of existing and emerging pathogens around the world to inform combatant commanders of endemic threats to their Soldiers. These data are then used to inform and direct product discovery and development efforts.

Though WRAIR’s research is focused on Soldier health, its products have important civilian applications, saving countless lives around the world.

The Bacterial Diseases branch addresses two of the top ten most significant infectious disease threats to U.S. Service Members, as identified by DOD-MIDRP - diarrheal diseases and multidrug resistant bacteria.

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WRAIR’s team of entomologists support Force Readiness and global health by developing and testing products to reduce the risk of vector-borne diseases.

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The U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) is at the forefront of the battle to protect U.S. troops from HIV and reduce its global impact. Since its inception in 1986, MHRP has emerged as a world leader in HIV diagnostics, threat assessment and epidemiology, and vaccine and functional cure research. With the persistent and destabilizing social, economic, and political impact of HIV/AIDS, high infection rates in many of the regions where military personnel are deployed, rising life-long treatment costs, and a sustained rate of new HIV infections in U.S. Service Members, MHRP’s HIV research and care mandates remain highly critical to military and civilian populations.

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The Diagnostics and Countermeasures Branch (DCB), formerly the Department of Laboratory Diagnostics and Monitoring, works to provide effective, state-of-art diagnostic countermeasures to ensure force health and readiness. Branch efforts include the development of new diagnostic assays, and identification of optimal diagnostic testing platforms, assays and algorithms using evidenced based approaches.
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Experimental Therapeutics (ET) is a drug discovery and development enterprise created to protect military personnel from death, disease, and injury and meet Army and DOD mission requirements. While its historical focus has been radioprotection and parasitic disease, ET applies its core competencies of medicinal, synthetic, and analytical chemistry as well as clinical pharmacology to all therapeutic areas within the Medical Research and Development Command's portfolio.

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Viral diseases pose a significant threat to Soldier health, readiness, and lethality. Especially in training and field environments, Soldiers live and work in close proximity, allowing pathogens to spread with ease. Some diseases are commonplace at home station, like influenza; others, like dengue, are prevalent where Soldiers deploy.  

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Malaria remains among the most significant infectious diseases facing U.S. Service Members deployed around the world. Infection with malaria is responsible for an estimated 5,300-21,000 lost work hours and $1.12-4.37 million per year in evacuation and medical care costs despite existing personal protective countermeasures like chemoprophylactic drugs, permethrin-impregnated uniforms, bed nets and unit preventive countermeasures like vector/environmental control (DEET) and education. These infections are largely driven by poor adherence to personal protective measures, chemoprophylaxis and rising regional drug resistance.

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Building on decades of prescient investments into broad capabilities and a product-oriented research infrastructure, the U.S. Army and WRAIR have been able to consistently maintain a posture of readiness and response to the most pressing pathogens that threaten U.S. and allied forces.

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One Health is a transdisciplinary, multi-sectoral and collaborative approach to optimizing health that recognizes the interrelatedness of human health, animal health and the environment. Though the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the zoonotic virus SARS-CoV-2, is the highest profile example, the emergence and spread of numerous diseases are impacted by humans’ proximity to and relationship with animals, climate and the environment.