Dr. James K. Gilman, though, spent three decades working to heal wounded soldiers in the U.S. Army, but also the tools of lab research to protect service members from threats on the battlefield.
Today, Dr. Gilman is the chief executive office of the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center – the nation’s largest hospital devoted to clinical research. The cardiologist’s daily job: Oversee the 200-bed, 870,000-square-foot research center, which handled almost 6,000 inpatient admissions and 100,000 outpatient visits last year.
Steering a large research enterprise is a familiar task for Dr. Gilman, who spent the latter part of his 35-year military career commanding the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. With a $2 billion budget, it oversees 75% of research and development for the U.S. Department of Defense.
Not only does it worry about supply chains for medical equipment, but the command performs vital research. It uses regenerative medicine and stem cells to help with skin grafts. And it confronts communicable diseases like malaria, dengue fever and man-made biological weapons that pose a threat to U.S. military personnel.
Yet, Dr. Gilman joined the Army for a simple reason: An ROTC Scholarship would make it possible for him to attend Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. After earning a biological engineering degree, he attended the School of Medicine, graduating in 1978. He completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in cardiovascular diseases at the Brooke Army Medical Center, based in San Antonio, Texas.
Between 1997 and 2000, Dr. Gilman served in a role equal to – in civilian terms – chief physician at two Army medical centers – Fort Hood and Fort Lewis. For his outstanding work, he was assigned to an Army hospital in Alaska, the sole tasked with treating soldiers, seaman and airmen. By 2002, he was brought to Washington, D.C., to serve in the Office of the Army Surgeon General. From 2004 to 2005, he ran Walter Reed Medical Center, managing the complex flow of wounded veterans coming back from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dr. Gilman also returned to San Antonio as a Major General to oversee Brooke and the Great Plains Regional Command, which was responsible for 30% of all U.S. Army Medical facilities and up to one million patients annually. In 2009, he took over the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, a post he held for three years until his retirement.
Most recently, Dr. Gilman was the executive director of the Johns Hopkins Military & Veterans Institute.