Lt. Col. Mark Hartell, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, recently received two honors as a result of his service as commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate – Georgia, located in Tbilisi, in the country of Georgia. The USAMRD-G is a subordinate unit of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), and Hartell served as commander, then director, from September 2014 to June 2017.
From the Georgian Ministry of Defense, Hartell was awarded the General Giorgi Kvinitadze Medal for exceptionally outstanding service to the country. The medal, presented on behalf of the General Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces, is their military’s fourth highest award and is rarely presented to foreign nationals.
Hartell was recognized for his leadership in establishing cooperative partnerships with the Georgian armed forces medical department during his tour as USAMRD-G commander.
Specifically, Hartell facilitated consultation between the medical staff at Georgia’s Gori Military Hospital, the United States European Command surgeon, and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, which resulted in the successful diagnosis and treatment of three Georgian soldiers who had become ill with unusual symptoms while deployed to the Central African Republic. The USAMRD-G was able to reach back to U.S. medical assets to provide guidance, advice, and clinical subject matter experts to assist Georgina medical personnel in treating the soldiers.
Additionally, Hartell arranged for a teleconference between staff at Georgia’s Gori Military Hospital and subject experts at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany to treat the most ill of the three soldiers.
Hartell also established partnerships with Gori Military Hospital to improve military readiness through disease surveillance and treatment. The partnership fostered collaboration between Georgian doctors and scientists and subject matter experts at WRAIR. The goal was to improve the monitoring and detection of several types of militarily relevant illnesses common to the region, such as acute respiratory illness and antimicrobial resistant diseases. The program also included surveillance of disease-transmitting ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes.
Hartell was also honored as the first recipient of the USMD Leadership Award, created by the president of the Tbilisi State Medical University (TSMU) to recognize individuals or institutes for exceptional contributions to the development of the USMD, or American MD, program. A six-year medical doctorate program, the USMD is a joint venture between TSMU and Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta.
During his tour as the USAMRD-G commander, Hartell served as a mentor to the students at the medical university in the areas of physical therapy, public health and clinical research. Additionally, he established a student internship for fourth year medical students to learn clinical research at WRAIR’s Georgia lab. The award was inaugurated on the program’s fifth anniversary.
Hartell received both honors on a trip to Georgia to participate in events marking the first day of the academic year at TSMU. In addition to providing a keynote address, Hartell took part in the White Coat Ceremony in which first year students receive their short white lab coats, marking their entrance into the medical doctorate program. While Hartell was in Georgia for these TSMU events, the Georgian Ministry of Defense forwarded the General Giorgi Kvinitadze Medal to the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation, who gave it to the staff at the USAMRD-G for presentation to Hartell.