In the News: Rear Adm. Colin G. Chinn, Joint Staff Surgeon of Joint Chiefs of Staff

5 mins read

“For the last 15 years, we have had a significant amount of our [R&D] dollars go toward solving issues that have arisen…We are making great strides in opening up some issues and preparing for future conflicts.”

Colin Chinn

“All hands on deck,” said Joint Staff Surgeon, Rear Adm. Colin G. Chinn in his address at the Human Factors: How to Improve Combat Survivability forum in early April. At the time of his presentation, Chinn was Deputy ASD(HA) for R&D, walking a tightrope everyday in a balancing act of weighted responsibilities ranging from the oversight of supporting a $2 billion defense health program funding cutting-edge research, to prioritizing enterprise maintenance and keeping the lens focused on “Big ‘A'” acquisition processes.

Now at the newly-introduced combat-supporting Defense Health Agency (DHA) headquartered at the Pentagon in Washington D.C., Chinn works closely with the armed services on a 6-domain R&D portfolio, addressing CCMD-identified gaps, and as he loosely puts it: “I turn novel and innovative ideas into fielded products.”

“Our research seeks R&D solutions to the medical capability of the apps that have been identified by the combatant commands and the services, cutting across the entire continuum of care,” Chinn said. “My focus is primarily on triple ‘C’ concepts (combat, casualty, care), military operational medicine and medical simulation–strictly following the FDA-regulatory process–to make sure that the products or knowledge that we produce are of the highest standards of safety and efficacy.”

Chinn plays chess and not checkers; his drive and attentiveness to the ‘Future Battlespace’ serves a reminder of the remaining moves that the U.S. has on the board, working hard to modernize health technology and military medicine in the right direction, and to stay a step ahead in the game. Military explorations in new tech like wearable sensors allow Chinn to travel around the country visiting research labs in the pursuit of optimizing medical performance for squads in-theater, large or small.

“90 percent of injuries and deaths are due to failure of early-detection. A lot of our work–we’re doing so many things–is involved in injury treatment,” said Chinn. “Thirty years ago when I was a medical officer, I was told not to use a tourniquet. Now, it can be one of the first measures taken to stop bleeding. All of our research and development keeps the warfighter in mind.”

Since completing his medical training, Chinn has served his country both domestically and overseas, including director of Tricare Region West/Pacific, chief of the Navy Medical Corps, U.S. Pacific Command surgeon, and as a dual-wielding director of the R&D Directorate (J9) of the DHA and U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command deputy commander. His accomplishments as a doctor and a decorated naval leader speak for themselves, as he continues to push the envelope on developing and delivering an integrated system of combat-ready medical care.

“For the last 15 years, we have had a significant amount of our [R&D] dollars go toward solving issues that have arisen,” Chinn said in closing. “We are making great strides in opening up some issues and preparing for future conflicts.”

Chinn serves as the chief medical advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, providing invaluable insight to chairs, the Joint Staff, and coordinating all issues related to health services, operational medicine, force health protection and readiness.

Rear Admiral Chinn will be addressing the Potomac Officer’s Club as a keynote speaker at the Operational Medicine through the lens of Defense Health Modernization forum to be held Nov. 7 at the 2941 Restaurant in Falls Church, VA.

Click here to register



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