US Army Medical Directorate of the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (USAMD-AFRIMS)

The mission of the US Army Medical Directorate of the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (USAMD-AFRIMS) is to conduct state of the art medical research and disease surveillance to develop and evaluate medical products, vaccines, and diagnostics to protect DOD personnel from infectious disease threats—many of which also endanger the men, women and children of Southeast Asia. First formed following the 1958 cholera epidemic as the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) Cholera Research Project, AFRIMS’ scope was broadened in 1960 with a mandate to contribute to the eradication of other infectious diseases.

USAMD-AFRIMS resides at the Royal Thai Army Medical Center in Bangkok and is a directorate of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) under the US Army Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC). AFRIMS is the largest of a global network of US Defense Department Overseas Medical Research Laboratories—with sister laboratories in Peru, Kenya, Egypt, and the Republics of Georgia and Singapore. USAMD-AFRIMS has nearly 460 staff members (predominantly Thai and US) and an annual research budget of approximately $30-35 million.

AFRIMS has a rich and successful history developing drugs and vaccines against diseases such as drug resistant malaria, diarrhea and dysentery, dengue, influenza, leptospirosis, MERS-CoV, HIV/AIDS, scrub typhus, and other emerging infectious diseases. Endemic throughout Southeast Asia, many of these diseases also impacting DOD personnel are referred to as “orphan diseases” since they are often overlooked by the pharmaceutical industry. AFRIMS’ emphasis on orphan diseases thus fulfills a critical global health gap.

AFRIMS has directly contributed to the development and eventual licensure of the Hepatitis A and Japanese Encephalitis Virus vaccines, the development and FDA approval of the Binax-Now point-of-care rapid diagnostic device for malaria, as well as contributed to the FDA approval of the medicines doxycycline and mefloquine to prevent malaria. AFRIMS was the first to discover and characterize resistance of P. falciparum malaria to artemisinin—globally the most widely used malaria drug class. AFRIMS developed the world’s only HIV vaccine that demonstrated the ability to prevent infection in humans, and conducted a landmark study describing how much virus appears in the blood and the onset of illness in patients at the very earliest days of HIV infection.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej shakes hands with Dr. Joseph Smadel in October 1959, leading to the eventual creation of AFRIMS.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej shakes hands with Dr. Joseph Smadel in October 1959, leading to the eventual creation of AFRIMS.

AFRIMS is also a World Health Organization Collaborating Center, assisting in surveillance and disease outbreak investigations of emerging diseases such as drug resistant P falciparum and vivax malaria, diarrhea agents: Campylobacter, Cholera O139, Cyclospora, E coli, drug resistant scrub typhus, and dengue hemorrhagic fever, influenza and Zika virus. AFRIMS has multiple field sites across Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia, and the Republic of the Philippines, with ongoing collaboration in Bhutan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, and Bangladesh. AFRIMS operates the Walter Reed/AFRIMS Research Unit (WARUN) Nepal and the Philippines-AFRIMS Virology Research Unit (PAVRU) in Cebu. AFRIMS also possesses state of the art veterinary and entomology assets, accredited by the International Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC), ensuring adherence the highest ethical and humane standards.

In today’s world of globalized travel, infectious diseases pose a constantly evolving threat—indiscriminately transcending national, regional, and even intercontinental boundaries. AFRIMS’ unwavering commitment to fight these diseases will help develop the next generation of life-saving medical products for the soldier and the world.

Contact via US Mail: USAMC-AFRIMS, APO AP 96546 USA
International Mail: AFRIMS 315/6 Rajvithi Road, Bangkok 10400 Thailand
Telephone: 66 2 696 2701
Fax: 66 2 696 2700