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Innovative burns surgeon receives international prize (6-13-00)

Basil A. Pruitt Jr., M.D., clinical professor of surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, has been awarded the Giuseppe Whitaker Foundation International Burns Prize in Palermo, Sicily. He is to receive the prize this fall in Palermo before an audience of leading scientists in the field.

The prize includes a cash award of 20 million Italian lire, the equivalent of about $10,000 in U.S. currency.

A 1957 graduate of Harvard Medical School, Dr. Pruitt completed his specialized burns residency at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio in the 1960s. After a tour of duty in Vietnam, he returned to BAMCís Institute of Surgical Research (ISR) in 1968, serving as ISR director and commander for 27 years. He joined the Health Science Center surgery faculty in January 1996.

At all times he has operated, clinically treated, directed, guided research and administered burns care at the highest level, making his Center the large internationally recognized Center of burns excellence in the world," said Professor Michele Masellis, scientific secretary of the Whitaker Foundation. "An analysis of his many publications as primary author (among his 422 papers) reveals that he has shown deep interest in and has brought scientific contributions to all the aspects of burns disease."

The ISR, in frequent collaboration with the Health Science Centerís Department of Surgery, has conducted pioneering studies of burns, shock, blood loss, infection and effect of trauma on organ function. It is responsible for the clinical management of 250 to 425 burns patients annually, Dr. Pruitt estimated. "This is a very nice honor for the Health Science Center and the Armyís pioneering work in burns management to be recognized at the world level."

He noted that the ISR and the Health Science Center have hosted surgical fellows from many countries and that the ISR currently is educating fellows from China and Japan.

Dr. Pruitt is automatically a member of the Whitaker Prize Awarding Committee in 2001.

Earlier this year, the Philadelphia Academy of Surgery, the oldest surgical society in America, awarded Dr. Pruitt an Honorary Fellowship. The Philadelphia society recognized his recent presidency of the American Surgical Association and the success Dr. Pruitt and his ISR colleagues achieved in terms of understanding and improving the bodyís response to injury.

Contact: Will Sansom