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The "Faces" of TBI Research

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[Dr. Geoffrey Ling] So, yes, I am both a researcher and a clinician and a program manager. And so I believe that all three have really helped me in the research moving this disease forward. I believe seeing the patients—working with them daily—is very grounding. It reminds me of who needs this care—who needs these advances. That's very important because when you run a research program a lot of times someone gets a little divorced from that and you tend to maybe not see the expediency that's necessary. And I believe that the expediency is critical. And so I always like to say is, "We have to do this research fast and efficient because there are patients waiting." When people tell me that they've come up with an interesting scientific finding and then you say "Oh, that's wonderful." "When will it go into the clinic to take care of patients?" And you say "Oh, about five or ten years." That to me is a lot of hooey. That is just plain hooey. Why is it taking ten years if this is going to save somebody's life it needs to come out in the next ten minutes. So, that kind of insight allows me the orientation to—kind of— how should I say—inspire my colleagues to move a little faster. So, in creating this system of care I talked about— we don't have it in the civilian sector—I want to remind you— but why do we have it in the military? Because my colleagues and the military providers recognize that we— this was for the young American who's out in harm's way. And we had to develop this thing now, not yesterday, but now. So, when it actually started to be put into place— which was right around 2009— It was actually fully instituted within six months—six months in a war zone. We had the concussion restoration centers. We had the screening tool. We had all that stuff because the fact that there is no standard of care— at the moment—does not obviate you from the responsibility of doing what you can for those in need. And the same thing goes for the research. So, I believe that the research is focused. I believe the research is efficient. And I believe that the research is moving quickly into second and third order effects to benefit the patient. And I think the blast gauge is a classic example of moving things out of the clinic into the field as fast as possible to do good.

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As a researcher and clinician, Dr. Geoffrey Ling knows that research needs to be fast and efficient because patients are waiting now!

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Produced by Noel Gunther, Ashley Gilleland, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.

Geoffrey Ling, MD, PhD, Col. (Ret.)Geoffrey Ling, MD, PhD, Col. (Ret.), Geoffrey Ling, MD, PhD is a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, where he has responsibility for a broad research portfolio. Dr. Ling is an authority on traumatic brain injury, especially as it pertains to the military.

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