Tsungming A. “Tony” Shih

UNIT: U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense
TITLE: Lead neuroscientist and principal investigator
AAC MEMBER SINCE: 1995
TOTAL YEARS OF ARMY SERVICE: 36
AWARDS: Commander’s Award for Civilian Service; Outstanding Supervisor (Grades 13 and above); Excellence in Federal Career Silver Medal, by Federal Executive Board, Baltimore, Md.(2); Department of the Army Research and Development Achievement Award for Technical Excellence, by the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology); The Best Paper Award in Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Session, at the 22nd Army Science Conference, Baltimore, Md.; – Department of the Army Research and Development Achievement Award for Technical Achievement, by Deputy Chief of Staff (Research, Development and Acquisition).
EDUCATION: B.S. in pharmacy, Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan; Ph.D. in pharmacology, University of Pittsburgh, Pa.


 

Dr. Tony Shih, second from left, in the lab with his research team at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, from left, Cindy Acon-Chen, Jeffrey Koenig, Dr. Thaddeus Thomas, Amber Truitt, and Garrett Smith. (Photo by Capt. Kristina Pugh)

Dr. Tony Shih, second from left, in the lab with with his research team at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, from left, Cindy Acon-Chen, Jeffrey Koenig, Dr. Thaddeus Thomas, Amber Truitt, and Garrett Smith. (Photos by Capt. Kristina Pugh)

What do you do and why is it important to the warfighter?
I have worked in the field of organophosphorus (OP) nerve agent (e.g., sarin or GB) research for more than 36 years at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense (USAMRICD), conducting pharmacological and neurochemical investigations of the basic and functional mechanisms of the action of toxic OP nerve agents and their treatment drugs. My current research activities involve 1) a comparison of the effects of various OP compounds on the neurotransmitter systems subsequent to either acute toxic or chronic repeated subtoxic exposure of these agents; 2) the mechanisms by which seizures develop following exposure to nerve agents and pathological consequences; 3) the identification of pharmacological classes of drugs that are most effective against OP agent-induced seizures; 4) the ability of therapeutic drugs to reverse the alterations in brain neurotransmitter systems induced by OP agents and the subsequent neuropathology; and 5) the identification of broad-spectrum oximes (a class of nitrogen-containing organic compounds), in particular, tertiary oximes that penetrate the blood brain barrier and reactivate the enzyme cholinesterase which is disabled by OP nerve agents. Reactivated cholinesterase can then resume its normal function of mediating the amount of the important neurotransmitter, acetylcholine for reactivation of OP nerve agent-inhibited cholinesterase activity in brain regions and peripheral tissues in animal models. These investigations are aimed at advancing our development of most efficacious medical countermeasures for warfighter in the chemical warfare theater.

What are some of the milestones you’ve achieved?
I’ve generated critical pharmacologic mechanistic and antidotal drug data, which are submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in support of the fielding of a new oxime reactivator (MMB-4) to restore the normal function of the cholinesterase enzyme when it has been disabled by OP nerve agents, and an anticonvulsant drug (midazolam) for warfighters in the chemical battlefield against nerve agent exposure.

What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army Acquisition Corps?
I’ve received unlimited learning and training opportunities and experiences in acquisition-related topics.

Dr. Tony Shih, center, at work in the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense lab with his research team, from left, Amber Truitt, Garrett Smith, Dr. Thaddeus Thomas, Jeffrey Koenig and Cindy Acon-Chen.

Dr. Tony Shih, center, at work in the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense lab with his research team, from left, Amber Truitt, Garrett Smith, Dr. Thaddeus Thomas, Jeffrey Koenig and Cindy Acon-Chen.

In celebration of the silver anniversary of the Army Acquisition Corps (AAC), Access is publishing “25 for 25” — twenty-five profiles of members of the AAC across the Army Acquisition Workforce. These profiles provide unique insight into the variety and importance of the work done by the AAC every day.