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Afghanistan vet appointed Canada's first chair in military care research

A veteran of Canada's 10-year combat role in Afghanistan has been appointed the country's first chair in military care research.

Captain (Navy) Raymond Kao, a critical care physician who has served as a medical officer in the Canadian Forces since 1991, received the appointment in military critical care research Jan. 31 during a ceremony at Ontario's London Health Sciences Centre.

Kao's research has shown that erythropoietin, when combined with saline, can improve blood flow and tissue oxygen usage after an injury. The finding may lead to improved results for soldiers wounded on the battlefield.

"You always want to find ways to improve the resuscitative process, so my research team looked at one aspect of that in order to improve soldiers' survival rates and decrease complications if they are wounded in battle," says Kao, a CMA member who served four tours in Afghanistan before Canada's combat operations there ended in 2011.

"An evacuation takes time - usually 45 to 60 minutes to get people out by helicopter or vehicles. Erythropoietin can easily be given in the field via syringe and helps preserve tissues while injured personnel await transfer to definitive care."

Brigadier-General Jean-Robert Bernier, the Canadian Forces surgeon general, officiated during the appointment ceremony. The chair is named in honour of Group Captain G. Edward Hall, a former dean of medicine at the University of Western Ontario who also did research involving military medicine.

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