By Scott Bailey
BioMed SA has chosen Dr. Alan Peterson to receive its 2018 Award for Innovation in Healthcare and Bioscience.
Peterson, a locally based researcher and psychologist, is chief of the division of behavioral medicine at UT Health San Antonio. He is also the organizer and leader of two nationwide consortia that are advancing groundbreaking methods to prevent, detect and treat a signature wound of military deployment: post-traumatic stress disorder.
Peterson, who will receive the award Sept. 13 at the Vistas at Valero, is considered one of the nation’s foremost research leaders in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of combat-related PTSD and related conditions in active-duty military personnel and veterans. His efforts have resulted in dramatic improvements in how PTSD is addressed.
BioMed SA is also recognizing Dr. Basil Pruitt, one of the founding fathers of modern trauma and burn medicine, with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Pruitt was commander and director of the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research for 27 years prior to joining UT Health San Antonio as a clinical professor in the department of surgery, where he holds the Dr. Ferdinand P. Herff Chair in Surgery.
During Peterson’s 21 years of military service as an Air Force clinical psychologist, he was among the first to recognize the need for evidence-based treatment for PTSD among service members. While on active duty, Peterson deployed three times and treated service members with PTSD in combat environments. Because there were no recognized treatments designed or tested for this purpose, he successfully adapted a leading civilian therapy called prolonged exposure. The results of the therapy for active-duty service members were dramatic and were documented in the first published case study on the in-theater treatment of PTSD.
After retiring from active duty in 2005, Peterson joined UT Health San Antonio, where he assembled and led a nationwide coalition of military, Veterans Affairs and civilian investigators to conduct randomized clinical trials on PTSD in military settings. He has brought together a world-class team of more than 150 collaborating investigators from more than 40 military, VA and civilian institutions working through the STRONG STAR Consortium and the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD.
The work of these consortia, directed by Peterson, involves more than 50 research projects with over $150 million in peer-reviewed research funding. His network has advanced the quality of care for psychologically wounded warriors and influenced policy changes that the Department of Defense has implemented as a direct result of this work.
Pruitt’s work has revolutionized the management of trauma, burns, and critically ill or injured patients worldwide. Those innovations include the pioneering use of burn wound biopsies, cohort nursing and high-frequency interrupted flow ventilation for inhalation injuries.
BioMed SA, established in 2005 to promote and grow the Alamo City’s bioscience industry, each year honors innovators who have put novel ideas into action with tangible and transformational results.
BioMed SA President Ann Stevens said this year’s award recipients highlight the value of former military medical leaders who have made the transition into San Antonio’s civilian health care and bioscience community.
“Their accomplishments epitomize the value of the ongoing collaboration between the civilian and military medical communities here … and the innovation that springs from it,” Stevens said.