Friday, March 13, 2020

Digitization proposed for former Armed Forces Institute of Pathology collection

Pentagon plans to digitize the largest repository of disease-related medical data in the world

The Department of Defense wants a digital repository of its 55 million tissue samples going back over 100 years

That's the former Armed Forces Institute of Pathology collection with many pre-World War II Army Medical Museum specimens.

As of 2011, they were scanning patient records and creating metadata, but then the AFIP was BRAC'd and recreated as the JPC. How does one digitize wax tissue blocks? Or wet tissue?

Monday, January 27, 2020

RIP Ron Wallace, a mainstay of the Borden Institute

The history of military medicine lost a member of the community this past week. Ron Wallace will not be known to most of you, but he was a mainstay of the US Army's Borden Institute's publishing, including many history of military medicine titles.

The friends and coworkers of Ronald Eugene Wallace mourn his passing last week. Ron, a former US Air Force master sergeant (and then long-time first sergeant), died in a fire in his home in Maryland. During the same week, the US Government Printing Office was praising the Borden's books in two blog posts - here and here.

I personally knew Ron when I worked at the National Museum of Health and Medicine and they published one of our exhibit catalogs, a history of the Walter Reed Medical Center, and a book on the last days of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. At the same time, they were doing the Textbooks of Military Medicine, books with current information on how to treat the injuries the military was suffering from in our ongoing wars. Ron always stood ramrod straight, was generous to a fault, and was garrulous. It was always a pleasure to walk down the hill and into the old building and run into him. In my head, although it hasn't been true for 9 years, he's still standing in the former nursing school, waiting to hand out the latest book.

Senior Layout Editor Douglas Wise remembers Ron:

Before his retirement last July, Ron spent 27 years working at Borden Institute, joining in 1992 as the administrator and office manager. His name rarely made it into the books, but almost 70 books on military medicine stand as tribute to his efforts making sure those whose names do appear could do their jobs with as little difficulty or obstacle as he could prevent. He helped build a library of books that resides in the Pentagon, the White House, and in the pocket of every soldier who goes through training today.

If you met Ron even once, then you know you met him and you've heard his stories. If you met Ron a second or third time then you heard those stories again, as well as some new ones. You could work with him for eighteen years and still get new stories out of him in addition to those stories you heard retold... weekly.

Ron's friendly and outgoing nature made him the face of Borden Institute. He was the first person you saw when you came to the office, he was out making friends with everyone who came to our exhibits, personally coaxing paperwork through the military bureaucracy faster than anyone else, and making sure that the brass, all the way up to the Surgeon General of the Army, knew who we were. One could (and did) find themselves on jury duty, on the subway, in a gathering of complete strangers, and find someone there who knew Ron Wallace.

And he took each person he met as their own person. There was no prejudging someone based on their accent, how much melanin they have in their skin, their views on the afterlife, or office gossip. If Ron took a disliking to you then you can be sure it was because of something you actually said or did.

It was a loss to Borden and the US military as a whole when Ron retired and a greater loss to our hearts and lives to learn of his passing.

Dr. Dave Lounsbury, COL, USA (ret.) recalls:

He and Lorraine Davis were the glue that held the Borden Institute together. Lorraine as Managing Editor kept track of books developing in the pipeline. Ron as Administrative Chief (I swear I don't think I ever learned what his title actually was) was absolutely superb at managing our budget. He seemed to know just about everyone at the budget offices of OTSG (US Army Office of the Surgeon General) and WRAMC (Walter Reed Army Medical Center). He protected the budget like it was his child. Borden was always something of a bastard child in the AMEDD (US Army Medical Department). The budget was forever at or near the chopping block. But time & time again, with his enormously reassuring (to me) "Don't worry. Let me handle this," Ron would salvage our financial survival. Not a few times, instead of a cut we got an increase! He was instrumental at increasing our staff. He finessed this entirely on his own. Lorraine and I might kibitz but he did it alone -- kept our books straight, excelled at every budget review, justified our purpose ... I marveled at his style.

He listened to most of the relentless gossip of the BI but I can't say I ever knew him to join it. Not his thing. Ron didn't speak ill of his colleagues. Now & then he'd grumble -- appropriately -- about one or another, but he never slammed them. Not a few times, I can confess, I was not so temperate or charitable -- furious at one or another staff member. Ron would listen, but he didn't join in. That reserve of his often gave me a bit of pause in my judgements once I calmed down. I valued him. Goodness knows he could talk your ear off, for hours at a time. But it was never vindictive stuff, always harmless, just tales of yore ... himself usually the hero. He was very slow to anger. But when he did boil over -- a truly rare occurrence -- the occasion invariably warranted it. I can only recall two of these.

He was thoroughly honest. He was thoroughly respectful. He came to work convinced that the what the Borden Inst produced was sui generis and absolutely worth preserving. No visitor could come by and then get away without being showered with books & info regarding what we published.

He had a finely tuned and curious ability to transfer allegiance such as I had never encountered before or since. One day my predecessor was the Director and Ron directed his attention solely toward that individual --even though he was totally aware that the fellow had been sacked. The next day I was in charge and, snap-of-a-finger, Ron was fully on board. I couldn't help notice this. Normally it might take a week or a month to make these transitions. Ron did so instantaneously. Impossible not to notice. I pointed it out to him one day long after I had settled in. It was a compliment to him. He simply shrugged.Of course, four or so years later it was my turn to transition out. Sure enough: though I stayed on to complete a couple of works in progress, there was no mistaking his redirection of attention and duties. I wasn't the boss anymore.My ego survived and we stayed close friends.

Ron, and Lorraine, did most of the work. I got all the credit.

He was a good man -- to Nancy, to his daughter, to his job, to his country.

The Homegoing Service for Ron will be held at Vaughn Green Funeral Services, 8728 Liberty Road,  Randallstown MD 21133. You may visit their website for details. On Monday, February 3rd from 4pm to 8pm there will be a Public Viewing and Tuesday February 4th, the wake begins at 10am, the funeral begins at 10:30 am. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Thursday, August 1, 2019