UT Health Science Center establishes distinguished chair in burn and trauma surgery

SAN ANTONIO (Dec. 6, 2007) – A $1 million gift from San Antonio philanthropists Betty and Col. Robert E. Kelso to The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio will ensure that San Antonio remains the nation’s leader in burn and trauma surgery. Their gift, which is the largest endowment in the UT Health Science Center Department of Surgery’s history, established the Betty and Bob Kelso Distinguished Chair in Burn and Trauma Surgery.

“Betty and Bob mean so much to our Health Science Center family and to this community,” said UT Health Science Center President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D. “Their generosity makes a difference in people’s lives every day. We are very thankful to be the recipients of this historic gift.”

Steven E. Wolf, M.D., professor of surgery at the UT Health Science Center, director of the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center at Brooke Army Medical Center, and director of the Pediatric Burn Program at University Hospital, will be the holder of the chair.

“Dr. Wolf and the Health Science Center are doing wonders with the burn program in San Antonio and are facilitating the collaboration of excellent researchers, surgeons and specialists to care for our wounded soldiers and civilians,” Betty Kelso said. “We are fortunate to live in a city where we have premier health care facilities and physicians working together.”

Dr. Wolf said that when a patient is rushed to the emergency room with severe burns in San Antonio, UT Health Science Center physicians are ready to provide the best care available.

“It is a privilege and honor to be in a position to be able to help so many people,” Dr. Wolf said. “We are so grateful to Mrs. Betty and Col. Kelso for their gift that is allowing us to enhance our collaborations with military and civilian health care teams in the city to offer state-of-the-art lifesaving care, and to educate and train future burn and trauma surgeons. In addition, it will enable us to conduct further research in the fields of burn monitoring and treatment that will lead to decreased mortality and a higher quality of life for our soldiers, children and other burn victims across the world.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from fires and burns are the fifth most common cause of unintentional injury deaths in the United States and the third-leading cause of fatal home injury. Children ages 4 years and younger are among those at highest risk for residential fire deaths and injuries.
The Pediatric Burn Program, led by Dr. Wolf, was launched two years ago and is the only burn program in South/Central Texas dedicated to the treatment and care of children. About 150 children ages newborn to 18 are treated at the center each year.

Dr. Wolf also leads the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center at Brooke Army Medical Center, which is the only facility of its kind in the nation dedicated to the care of military personnel, and is the only official burn program of the U.S. Department of Defense. Servicemen and women from every branch of the military are transported to the center for care and treatment of burn injuries. Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, the center has treated more than 600 seriously burned servicemen and women. In addition, between 250 and 300 civilian patients from South/Central Texas are treated at the center each year as a means of maintaining readiness for the military mission, and providing a service to the people of Texas.

Dr. Wolf says that soldiers are suffering from larger and more serious burns during the current war than they did during the Vietnam War. However, deaths resulting from burns received today have decreased by 50 percent because of improved treatment and care.

“The future of burn treatment and research holds the promise of advancement that will benefit both soldiers and civilians for years to come, thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Betty and Col. Kelso,” Dr. Wolf said.

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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