United States Military Tropical Medicine: Extraordinary Legacy, Uncertain Future
Sabin's Dr. Peter Hotez and co-authors detail how current congressional budget restrictions and the threat of future cuts jeopardize the U.S. military’s tropical medicine program.
"The current and proposed cuts in US military R&D may make it impossible to attract young and promising investigators, thereby creating gaps in the succession of our future leaders. This impact is affecting both ends of the spectrum: with men and women who have served this country and the world finally proceeding into well-deserved retirement, the pool of talent to replace them is growing shallower and those who could normally cultivate this new talent through mentorship will be long gone. Additionally, junior military officers are now facing the conflict of furthering their scientific career versus their military one. Advancement of both aspects once logically went hand-in-hand as exceptional research and publication records were considered promotion-worthy. However, now this situation is no longer the case and promising young military scientists may be forced to abandon their research careers to diversify their military experience, thereby stunting their growth as leaders in the scientific realm. This trend is yet another strong disincentive for recruiting bright young talent to the US military. Novel medications, diagnostics, vaccines, and other life-saving measures that we have relied on from the US military take anywhere from five to 15 years to reach full licensure, and if they are not able to plant for the coming spring, in five years the pipeline can be expected to evaporate. At the current rate of increased exodus and decreased acquisition of talented professionals, the US military's contribution to global health could mostly disappear."