2021 Spring Research Festival

2021 SRF: Highlighting Accomplishments Across Fort Detrick and USAMRDC in a Virtual Environment.

May 19, 2021

Taylor E. O'Guinn, STEM Program Coordinator, USAMRDC Contractor


The mission of the Spring Research Festival is to foster scientific interaction and collaboration among partners and local academia to complement and enhance research, development and acquisition capabilities; and advance military medicine. With an estimated attendance of 1,500, the 2021 SRF succeeded in its mission of connecting Fort Detrick with the community and bridging the gap between the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research agencies including the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Centers, the Center for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration and the Naval Medical Research Center.

A Year of Firsts

If COVID-19 has taught society anything, it has shared a lesson in resiliency and overcoming hardship. The SRF was canceled for the first time in the history of the event in 2020. Leading into 2021, the SRF planning committee made the decision to host the first ever virtual SRF.

The event, held on April 28-29th, 2021, was conducted on the platform Webex and the SRF website. This included everything from presentations, to the scientific poster display and the awards ceremony. In addition to a change in the format of the SRF, a second keynote presenter and a new event, the COVID-19 Mini Lecture Series, were added. The virtual nature of the event allowed for greater participation and reach from both audience members and presenters. General John Murray, commanding general of the U.S. Army Futures Command, provided welcoming remarks. His comments were available on the SRF website during the event.

Regardless of the format, the SRF planning committee is hopeful to incorporate virtual components in future SRFs with the intent of growing the event.

By the Numbers

Dr. Birx and Dr. Baric
For more information on the 2021 SRF keynote presentations; read the article entitled "Birx, Baric Headline Annual Research Festival."

The SRF was honored to have Dr. Ralph Baric and Dr. Deborah Birx as the keynote presenters. Baric is a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina and Birx is retired Military serving 28 years in the U.S. Army and the former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator. These distinguished professionals spoke on their work with COVID-19 and discussed the impact their research has on global public health. Approximately 175 attendees tuned in for each of these presentations and participated in a question and answer session with the speakers.

The COVID-19 Mini Lecture Series featured speakers from USAMRDC, NCI, NMRC, and NBACC; all of which are located at Fort Detrick, MD. The speakers were nominated to speak on behalf of their agency due to their COVID-19 research efforts. Given the diversity of the agencies, the information shared ranged in scope from genome sequencing, surveillance, and antibody therapies to manufacturing and vaccine development. Each speaker had an average of 100 audience members.

The Poster Blitz was an opportunity for individuals participating in the Poster Display to showcase their research in a brief oral presentation. 20 individuals were selected to present in this year’s Poster Blitz and speakers were from USAMRDC and NCI. An average of 89 attendees viewed each presenter.

The Post-Baccalaureate/Post-Doctoral Symposium provides students in these respective degree programs a platform to present their research and laboratory accomplishments while receiving feedback from judges. There were five presenters in this event at the 2021 SRF and all employees of NCI. There were an average of 67 spectators per speaker.


The Poster Display, Poster Blitz and Post-Baccalaureate/Post-Doctoral Symposium were judged by a panel of judges selected by the SRF committee. Brigadier General Michael Talley, commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command and Fort Detrick, announced the award winners in a video that can be found on the SRF website. Winner's names are listed below. Congratulations to all winners on this outstanding honor.

Poster Display
Applied and Environmental Biology Gary Peterson - USDA
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Dr. Zhe Sun - NCI
Biosafety and Biosecurity Ed Hong - USAMRDC
Cancer Biology Dr. Dipak Poria - NCI
Clinical Research Vishnuprabha Rahul Kannan - NCI
Detection and Diagnostics Dr. Christopher Stefan - USAMRDC
Emerging Technologies Sally Feng - NCI
Gene Therapy, Genome Editing, and Genetics Dr. Hui Dong - NCI
Immunology Morgan Johnson - NCI
Infectious Pathogens and Epidemiology CPT Isaac Downs - USAMRDC
Informatics Dr. Amanda Paulson - NCI
'Other' Eleuterio Galvez - USAMRDC
Scientific Core Services Jeffrey Carrell - NCI
Structural Biology and Chemistry Dr. George Lountos - NCI
Therapeutics, Vaccines, and Drug Delivery Kathleen Pagarigan - USAMRDC
Poster Blitz
First Antonia Santoro - USAMRDC
Second Ella Fitzgerald & Taeeun Kim - NCI
Third Julia Morgan - USAMRDC
Fourth Sally Feng - NCI
Fifth CPT Isaac Downs - USAMRDC
Post-Bac/Post-Doc Symposium
First Sarah Flaherty - NCI
Second Dr. Amy Funk - NCI

Getting Involved

The SRF is open to Fort Detrick employees and local academia to attend and participate in the events. The SRF committee is always looking for judges, moderators, presenters and support members to assist in the planning and execution of the event.

To volunteer, inquire about the SRF or provide feedback on the 2021 SRF; please send us an email.

Last Modified Date: 19 July 2022