Trauma/burn specialist Pruitt to receive King Faisal Prize

SAN ANTONIO (March 5, 2008)—Basil A. Pruitt Jr., M.D., FACS, FACM, of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio will be honored March 9 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as the co-winner of the 2008 King Faisal International Prize for Medicine. Dr. Pruitt has been an innovator in trauma management, including burns, for nearly 50 years while caring for thousands of American soldiers.

He shares this year’s King Faisal medicine prize with Donald Trunkey, M.D., a fellow trauma surgeon from the Oregon Health & Science University. Each co-winner will receive $100,000 in U.S. dollars.

A 1952 graduate of Harvard, Dr. Pruitt received his M.D. degree in 1957 from the Tufts University School of Medicine. After starting a surgery residency in Boston, he was drafted in 1959 and assigned to the U.S. Army Institute for Surgical Research (ISR) at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. He completed his residency at Brooke Army Medical Center in 1964 and served 31 years with the ISR, including 27 as its commander and director. During that time he served a tour of duty in Vietnam. In December 1995 he retired from the Medical Corps and joined the Department of Surgery faculty at the UT Health Science Center.

“Dr. Basil Pruitt is the father of modern burn care,” said Stephen M. Cohn, M.D., FACS, professor and the Dr. Witten B. Russ Chair of the Department of Surgery at the Health Science Center. “His trainees run most of the burn centers throughout North America. His research advances have revolutionized the field of burn injury management and have been instrumental in lowering the rate of death and complications dramatically in the last 40 years. There is no one in the field more worthy of this great honor than Dr. Pruitt.”

Dr. Pruitt is the editor of the Journal of Trauma and has served on 11 editorial boards. He has authored and co-authored more than 440 published papers, 162 textbook chapters, and 13 books and monographs. His honors in the surgical field are too numerous to list.

“I plan to continue my ongoing work with evaluation of low-ampere current on wound healing,” he said in a recent interview.

The King Faisal Foundation was established in 1976 by the eight sons of the late King Faisal ibn Abd Al Aziz, a son of Saudi Arabia’s founder and its third king. The King Faisal International Prize brings attention to important issues and rewards gifted scientists who have made these issues a priority in their careers, according to the foundation Web site.

Prizes are awarded annually for medicine, science, service to Islam, Islamic studies and Arabic literature.


The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $576 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $15.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 22,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and allied health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, allied health, dentistry and many other fields.

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