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Dr. Robert Vandre receives individual Letterman award for work at AFIRM

Col. Vandre briefs the AFIRM mission and program to a Congressional Staff member
Col. Robert Vandre briefs the AFIRM mission and program to a Congressional Staff Member at the Medical Research Day on Capitol Hill Mar. 3, 2010.

The 2010 Major Jonathan Letterman Award for Medical Excellence for individual accomplishments awarded to Dr. Robert Vandre, retired Army Colonel, is now on display at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Md. Dr. Vandre received the Letterman Award for his efforts to establish the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine and all his hard work while serving as the director of the AFIRM.

"Dr. Vandre realized earlier than anyone the significant potential that the emerging field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine could have in improving the lives and livelihoods of our Wounded Warriors returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Col. Janet Harris, director of the Clinical & Rehabilitative Medicine Research Program at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

According to Harris, Vandre acted on his vision which successfully led to the creation of a new research program, accelerating the development of regenerative medicine technologies and translating these new capabilities to the clinic.

"In 2006, I had been following the field of regenerative medicine for about four years and thought it was still a decade away from getting really useful products in the marketplace," said Vandre.

As the director for the Army's Combat Casualty Care Research Program, Vandre was perplexed that more lives were being saved than ever before, but the increasing number of Wounded Warriors were not able to restore anything resembling full function.

"I heard a talk by Dr. Tony Atala that summarized the most recent advances in the regenerative medicine field and was blown away with the potential and how far they had come," said Vandre. "I realized that this was a technology that could be used to help repair the ravaging wounds of the war."

Under the leadership of Vandre, the AFIRM was established in 2008 as a multi-institutional organization, working with fellow government organizations and two independent civilian research consortia.

"I wanted to try and do something to help put our Wounded Warriors back together after they had done so much for our country," said Vandre.

The Major Jonathan Letterman Award for Medical Excellence was established in Oct. 2008 to tribute the visionary medical practices of Maj. Jonathan Letterman during the civil war. His critical care planning saved countless lives during the Civil War and continues to saves lives in current wars, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

In honor of Maj. Letterman and his accomplishments in the field of medicine, the Letterman Award is given to the individual and the organization whose efforts contributes to the advancement of medical processes and improved patient outcomes and quality of life.

"Col. Vandre is clearly deserving of the Major Jonathan Letterman Award for medical excellence in innovation," said Harris. "He exemplifies every quality of military research and development leadership that the department espouses."

"I was very pleasantly surprised to receive this award and especially happy for the AFIRM to get the recognition I think it deserves," said Vandre. "I hope the AFIRM brings many technologies and cures to the clinic that will heal the ravages of war and, of course, also heal the many civilian casualties of trauma."

The Letterman Award presented to Dr. Vandre can be seen at The National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Md. The display features the Letterman Award as well as photos and product examples from the AFIRM.

Last Modified Date: 12/05/2017