Friday, September 7, 2001

Army lab to get Inouye’s name

By Gregg K. Kakesako

One of the Army's largest and most diverse medical laboratories will be named after Hawaii Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient who had to cast aside his desire to become a doctor when he was wounded by a German grenade.

The facility at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Md., is at the hospital where Inouye recuperated after losing his right arm in 1944 fighting in Italy with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The ceremony honoring Inouye was to be held today on the senator's 77th birthday.

The laboratory is located at the Forest Glenn annex of the Walter Reed Medical Center, where Inouye and other wounded soldiers convalesced in the 1940s. Patient care ended at the annex in 1946, and the area was turned over to research. The Army said the lab was named for Inouye to recognize his role in having the facility built.

Inouye, in prepared remarks, recalled spending two years in Army hospitals recuperating and is "forever grateful for the care, comfort and assistance" he received from doctors, nurses and medical personnel.

Although defense spending often is described as funds to make war, Inouye said, "It may be difficult to believe, but most of the defense budget funds go toward efforts to maintain health, maintain a high quality of life and provide adequate pay and benefits. The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research is an important part of these efforts."

He said that as far as he is concerned, "our nation is not doing enough for our men and women in uniform. Much more can and should be done."

The Army Institute of Research began as the Army Medical School in June 24, 1893, in Washington, D.C. By the start of the 1900s, researchers there had determined how typhoid and yellow fever were transmitted. The institute moved to its permanent home on the grounds of the Walter Reed Medical Center in 1923 and was renamed the Army Medical Department Professional Service School.

In 1947 its name was changed to the Army Medical Department Research and Graduate School, and then to the Walter Reed Institute of Research in 1955. Scientists there have isolated the viruses that cause influenza, rubella and dengue. The institute has become the center for basic biological research.

The Naval Medical Research Institute began in 1942 and evolved into the Navy's largest biomedical research facility. The world's first tissue bank was organized there in 1949, America's first astronauts received part of their training at the Navy facility, and an early version of the heart machine was perfected there. Researchers there also developed the freezing techniques that made sperm banks possible.

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