MCIRCC's Hakam Tiba, MD, Brandon Cummings, and Ashwin Belle, PhD

MCIRCC's Hakam Tiba, MD, Brandon Cummings, and Ashwin Belle, PhD

This summer, Ashwin Belle, PhD, and Hakam Tiba, MD, attended the Military Health System Research Symposium (MHSRS). As the Department of Defense’s premiere scientific conference, it gives physicians and scientists a chance to share their military-unique research and provides direction on what problems to solve next.

For MCIRCC, the conference gave Belle and Tiba the opportunity to bolster their relationships with the Department of Defense and network with other researchers for potential collaboration in the future.

“It’s always interesting to see what the Department of Defense thinks about the future of healthcare and where they want to see the field go. Not only does the symposium give us guidance on what’s feasible to solve in the field now, but we also learn about the upcoming challenges our military may face,” said Belle.

During the conference, Tiba introduced his ocular bioimpedance concept that can non-invasively evaluate intracranial pressure and monitor cerebrovascular autoregulation (CAR), two important factors in assessing traumatic brain injury (TBI). Tiba received $1.48 million in funding from the Department of Defense’s Prolonged Field Care grants for this study.


Expanding on Tiba’s research, Belle discussed the importance of data analytics for TBI patients especially as it pertains to CAR. Using Tiba’s novel, non-invasive method of measuring CAR, Belle discussed how comparing CAR to the pressure reactivity index could provide valuable insight into the outcomes of TBI patients and help guide decision-making.

After their presentations, both Tiba and Belle received “Challenge Coins” from the moderators of their panel. Rooted in military tradition, these coins symbolize unity amongst a military unit and are passed along discreetly using a “secret” handshake.

“Receiving the challenge coin was definitely a highlight of the trip,” said Belle. “It’s meant to build camaraderie and signify you’ve risen to a challenge. It was a huge honor for me.”