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September 15, 2020

Fort Detrick breaks ground on $22 million facility

Credit: WDVM, Jasmine Pelaez

FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM) — Since the 1930s, a cluster of World War II-era wood frame buildings have stood on the grounds of Fort Detrick.

In the decades since, the buildings have housed officers with the U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity (USAMRAA), a team that’s grown from 30 people to more than 200.

“Back in the ’30s, [the buildings] were meant to last ten years, well, they’re still here and high time we got this project rolling,” said the commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command and Fort Detrick, Brigadier General Michael J. Talley. 

Just yards from the original structures, army commanders and officials including Rep. David Trone dug into the dirt, breaking ground on a new 55,000 sq. ft. facility valued.

“This is one step forward on a journey of building the best medical research anywhere in the world, and it’s right here in Frederick,” Trone said.

The new three-story headquarters will centralize employees responsible for developing, delivering, and sustaining medical capabilities and ensuring war fighters can survive in the field.

“Our war fighter is placed in many different situations, so we have different efforts that prolong field care,” explained director of USAMRAA, Thea Hofgesan, “tourniquets, cold blood platelets, freeze-dried plasma, those are all different things we’re trying to do to prolong a soldier that is injured on a battlefield.”

Officials say the staff of about 260 support 7,000 contract actions every year.

“Efforts valued at $2 billion for the Department of Defense medical research and material mission needs,” Talley said. 

The new facility will replace five different buildings that currently house the contracting division.

“As we bring new people in, it’s harder to introduce them to everybody in the command. To have someone all on the same floor, working together, being able to reach out and go over to talk to someone, it’s going to create a new working environment,” Hofgesang said. 

“The building maintenance and safety concerns of those outdated structures, it’ll be a thing of the past,” Talley added. 

Construction on the new $22 million building is expected to last two years.