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The Army manages the Department of Defense Serum Repository (DoDSR) of over 43 million serum samples and the associated Defense Medical Surveillance System (DMSS) database that links individual service member characteristics to these biological samples. The main mission and use of these resources has been for military health surveillance. The Army turned to RAND Arroyo Center to systematically examine current requirements and capabilities of the DoDSR and DMSS, identify gaps, and suggest strategies to improve their ability to meet current and potential future military health needs in the areas of surveillance, outbreak investigation, research, and clinical support, particularly as these relate to influenza and other infectious disease threats. The research drew information from written documents and interviews with military and civilian experts. The study identified a number of opportunities to improve the management, content, and use of the serum repository and associated database. There were six main recommendations: (1) clarify and communicate the missions of the DoDSR and DMSS both within and beyond DoD; 92) empower, structure, and resource the organizational oversight of DoDSR and DMSS so that they can fulfill the full range of their missions; (3) create an integrative data plan for comprehensive health surveillance; (4) enhance the utility of specimens; (5) plan for the next repository facility; and (6) raise awareness of and expand access to DoDSR and DMSS.

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The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by RAND Arroyo Center and RAND Health.

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