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NEWS | Jan. 17, 2023

U.S. Army Medical Laboratory Forges Relationship with Australian Defence Force Institute

By Walter Ham

BRISBANE, Australia -- American Soldiers from a one-of-a-kind U.S. Army medical laboratory met with their counterparts at the Australian Defence Force Malaria and Infectious Disease Institute (ADFMIDI) in Brisbane, Australia.

Soldiers from the 1st Area Medical Laboratory were hosted by Professor G. Dennis Shanks, the director of the Australian Army Malaria Research Institute, and Australian Defence Force Lt. Col. Brady McPherson, the ADFMIDI commanding officer.

Originally from Atlanta, Shanks was an active-duty U.S. Army officer for more than 20 years and he conducted research and undertook field testing in Southeast Asia, South America and Africa. Shanks also spent significant time working at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, where the 1st Area Medical Laboratory is headquartered.

Following his retirement in the United States in 2006, Shanks was appointed director of the Australian Army Malaria Research Institute.

Col. Matthew J. Grieser, the commanding officer of the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, said the visit to the ADFMIDI headquarters at the Gallipoli Barracks in the Enoggera suburb of Brisbane, Australia, was a follow-up meeting between the allied commands.

“Previously, representatives from the 1st AML and ADFMIDI had met and conversed both formally and informally at the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 2022 Symposia in Seattle,” said Grieser, who is originally from Mulino, Oregon, and has commanded the 1st Area Medical Laboratory since July 2021.

Grieser and his senior enlisted advisor, Sgt. Maj. Jackie S. Mims, visited Australia with Maj. Joshua M. Carmen, the 1st AML Biology Section officer-in-charge, and Maj. Andrew A. Clack, the 1st AML Occupational and Environmental Health Section officer-in-charge. Carmen and Clack are also both U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) Troop 1 leads.

A former enlisted Army medic, Grieser has deployed to Afghanistan four times and Iraq five times. The seasoned veteran has also served in Haiti, Panama and New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. The 1st AML commanding officer said the visit helped to strengthen an important partnership.

“ADFMIDI represents an ally-nation working partner of considerable importance. The organization is Australia's Department of Defence infectious disease research institute, with long-established relationships and trust with partner militaries in INDOPACOM's area of operations, including in Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and Vietnam,” said Grieser. “Engagement with the ADFMIDI team in Brisbane was a privilege and there is significant potential for further collaborations and future engagements.”

Grieser said there was mission overlap between the 1st AML and ADFMIDI that could be leveraged to make both organizations stronger.

“ADFMIDI has a robust program and can share decades of institutional experience in both laboratory procedures and fieldwork,” said Grieser. He added that they plan to focus on a mosquito-borne zoonotic infection called the Ross River Virus that has previously affected both Australia Defence Force and U.S. service members.

The 1st Area Medical Laboratory is part of the 44th Medical Brigade and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. military’s premier all hazards command.

The 1st AML identifies and evaluates health hazards through unique medical laboratory analyses and rapid health hazard assessments of nuclear, biological, chemical, endemic disease, occupational and environmental health threats.

According to Grieser, Soldiers from the 1st Area Medical Laboratory have worked with military medical professionals around the world to strengthen their ability to detect and identify threats to citizens and service members. The 1st AML also regularly meets and trains with South Korean and NATO military medical professionals.

“Together with our allies, our command contributes to our nation’s medical diplomacy by forging and strengthening critical relationships and partnerships that help to save lives and enable mission readiness,” said Grieser.
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