The U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit-2 Detachment Phnom Penh
The U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit-2 Detachment Phnom Penh (NAMRU-2 PP)’s mission is to identify infectious disease threats of mutual interest to the United States, the Cambodian Ministry of Health, and the international public health community and to develop and evaluate interventions and products to mitigate those threats. NAMRU-2 PP conducts cooperative health engagement activities in support of the U.S. Country Team, the Cambodian Ministry of Health, U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), and the US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED).
History of NAMRU-2
NAMRU-2 had its beginnings in Guam during World War II under the Rockefeller Foundation. Its primary function then, as it is now, was to study infectious diseases of potential military significance in Asia. The unit was established in 1955 in Taipei, Taiwan, where it operated for 24 years. A NAMRU-2 detachment was established in 1970 in Jakarta, Indonesia. In 1979, when politics dictated that NAMRU-2 leave Taiwan, the command turned to its collaborators in the Republic of the Philippines to identify a new site for the laboratory. The Unit was officially established in Manila on 15 April 1979. In March of 1991, the Command was transferred to Jakarta and the Manila detachment closed in June 1994.
In 2002, Phnom Penh activities were established by NAMRU-2 to conduct regional infectious disease research and diagnostic laboratory support, operating out of a laboratory located at the National Institutes of Public Health, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In 2007, to reflect Navy Medicine’s priorities in response to global emerging infectious disease threats, NAMRU-2 recognized the activities in Phnom Penh as a detachment, while at the same time opening a detachment within the Office of Defense Cooperation, U.S. Embassy Singapore.
The NAMRU-2 main laboratory and headquarters remained in Jakarta until 2010, when it was requested to close by the Government of Indonesia. The headquarters element of the Unit was relocated to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and officially opened as NAMRU-2 Pacific on 17 June 2010, while the NAMRU-2 PP laboratory functions as the main laboratory in the region.
NAMRU-2 PP Personnel
NAMRU-2 PP is staffed by 4 U.S. Navy members and over 90 Cambodian scientists, doctors, technologists, data technicians, and administrative personnel located in Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham. NAMRU-2 PP provides state of the art training in biomedical research. In addition, NAMRU-2 PP is committed to the continual development of its staff, the scientific research community, and the Cambodian Ministry of Health through internship programs, laboratory partnerships, scholarship opportunities for studying abroad, and attendance of international scientific conferences.
NAMRU-2 PP Programs
Disease Surveillance and Research
Working closely with Cambodian health officials, NAMRU-2 PP conducts infectious disease research and surveillance in the following areas:
- respiratory pathogens (primarily influenza)
- gastrointestinal diseases
- antimicrobial resistant organisms (primarily from wounds)
- febrile illness
- dengue fever
NAMRU-2 PP remains at the forefront of emerging infectious disease detection in Cambodia. NAMRU-2 PP collects and characterizes over 5,000 specimens per year and rapidly distributes the resultant information to Cambodian and USG partners. Additionally, when requested, NAMRU-2 PP conducts outbreak investigations and supports outbreak response preparation.
All NAMRU-2 PP research projects undergo an extensive ethical review process in both Cambodia and the United States to ensure the rights and welfare of persons who participate in NAMRU-2 PP research programs are protected. We are committed to attaining the highest ethical standards.
In conjunction with the World Health Organization, Cambodian Ministry of Health, and international nongovernmental organizations, NAMRU-2 PP strengthens Cambodia’s biomedical research capacity by developing diagnostic microbiology laboratories in referral hospitals. NAMRU-2 PP provides training to personnel on state-of-the-art methodologies and technologies, develops laboratory performance standards, and provides infectious disease diagnostic and reference services at no cost.
Currently, NAMRU-2’s research efforts extend throughout the SE Asian region, including Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, and Thailand.