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May 19, 1989

Blending With Surroundings, 'NAMRU' Aids Hosts While Studying Disease Threats to US Military

JAMA. 1989;261(19):2798-2801. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420190068015

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FEW AMERICAN MILITARY bases have a mosque. In Cairo, Egypt, the US Navy actually constructed one a few years ago on the grounds of its Medical Research Unit there.

That, as much as anything, symbolizes the unique working relationship between the unit and the Egyptian government. Since 1948, through international diplomatic relations smooth or strained, the Navy has been conducting research into local infectious diseases that it considers potential "war stoppers" capable of putting an army out of action, research that simultaneously has contributed to the health objectives of the Egyptian government.

Africa, Pacific, Latin America  Assignment to the Naval Medical Research Unit Number 3, or NAMRU, as the facility is known, is a plum for physicians interested in tropical diseases. (Besides the unit in Cairo, which oversees research in Egypt, the Sudan, Kenya, North Yemen, Djibouti, and Ethiopia, the Navy also has similar units in Manila, Djakarta, and Peru.)