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2018 BioMed SA Award for Innovation
in Healthcare and Bioscience
Left photo: San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg presents BioMed SA's special Lifetime Achievement Award to Basil A. Pruitt, Jr., M.D. Right Photo: Alan L. Peterson, PhD, accepts the 2018 BioMed SA Award for Innovation from President Ann Stevens and BioMed SA Chair Walt Downing. Photos by Joel Spring.

BioMed SA Award 2018: Recognizing Advances in Military Medicine

By Catherine Cheng | PhD Candidate | Biology of Aging | Technology Commercialization

There was a clear theme to this year's BioMedSA Award for Innovation in Healthcare and Bioscience: the role of San Antonio's doctors in advancing military medicine.

Basil A. Pruitt, Jr., MD was awarded the inaugural Special Lifetime Achievement Award, for his contributions to the care of critically ill and injured patients: he is considered a founding father of modern trauma and burn medicine. His accomplishments were summarized by UT Health SA's Creative Media Services team in a recent video honoring his contributions (also embedded at the end of this article).

Alan L. Peterson, PhD was awarded the 2018 Award for Innovation in Healthcare and Bioscience. He is a national leader in research on combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder. His work has resulted in dramatic improvements in the treatment of PTSD.

The military medicine theme present in this year's award ceremony is particularly timely, given the recent official designation: just last year, the City received the registered trademark of San Antonio as "Military City, USA®." This move recognizes the impact of the military on San Antonio, including the contribution of nearly $50 billion to the local economy, and 10% of the population. As an attendee of this award ceremony, I heard from multiple speakers the statement that San Antonio is a hub of military medicine. I was curious about the basis for this claim, and learned that San Antonio has: the only DoD Level I trauma center, and largest DoD inpatient facility, and the largest (flagship) training hospital in the Air Force.

In addition, one attendee informed me that something on the order of 35 out of 39 of combat health technologies developed by the military in the past 14 years came from San Antonio (I will update with a link once I track down this source).

More interestingly (at least for me, a graduate student at UT Health SA) were the ties both of the awardees had to the institution. Dr. Pruitt is a clinical professor and Ferdinand P. Herff Chair in Surgery at UT Health SA, and Dr. Peterson, also a professor, has brought together the world’s largest research consortia studying combat-related PTSD: a team of more than 150 collaborating investigators from 40+ military, VA, and civilian institutions working through STRONG STAR and Consortium to Alleviate PTSD (CAP), with over $150 million in peer-reviewed research funding.

In his award acceptance remarks, Dr. Peterson shared, with 550 dinner guests, that he spent his childhood drawn to reading books about American heroes and learned that it isn’t the strongest, smartest, or richest people that lead change and make an impact, but rather a dogged determination in pursuit of their goals. Dr. Peterson is an excellent example of this quality, and mentioned that, although he is grateful for the recognition by BioMed SA, he still has a lot of work to do. His current objective is to establish a National Center for Warrior Resiliency at UT Health San Antonio: this proposal was approved by the Texas Legislature in September 2017. In June 2018, STRONG STAR was officially approved by The University of Texas System as an organized research unit at UT Health San Antonio.

A full list of UT Health SA's Institutional Organized Research Units (including the STRONG STAR) can be found here:

To summarize, this year's awardees really drove home the idea of San Antonio as a center of gravity for military medicine. As a graduate student at UT Health San Antonio, it was exciting to learn how our institution contributes to that designation!

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