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AF doctor garners multiple awards for his contributions to military medicine

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kevin Iinuma
  • 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs
A doctor from the 59th Medical Wing received multiple honors recently for his research in treating wounded service members.

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Vikhyat Bebarta, director of the 59th Medical Wing En Route Care Research Center (ECRC) and chief of medical toxicology at the San Antonio Military Medical Center on nearby Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, was notified he will receive the Air Force Association's 2014 Paul W. Myers award and the National Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Basic Science award for his contributions to medicine.

Bebarta was instrumental in creating the ECRC, a premier research center charged with providing war fighters with the absolute best life-saving medical treatment. The center is considered the cornerstone for war fighter health care research supporting the Air Force Medical Service and the Joint Combat Casualty Care Research Program.

According to the Air Force Association citation, Bebarta earned the Paul Myers award as "the Air Force Medical Corps officer who has made the most significant contribution to the continued good health of the men and women of the U.S. Air Force." Bebarta received the award Sept. 15 at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland.

"I am humbled to receive this prestigious award," said Bebarta. "The last 10 years of war have brought many new innovations in medicine, and developed a new generation of combat physicians."

In coordination with other military and civilian trauma leaders, Bebarta and his team are instituting lessons learned from the more than 12 years of war. They continue to make advancements in wounded warrior and beneficiary trauma treatment through research and innovations in health care.

"However, the greatest innovations and lessons do not come from me or from us as physicians, they come from the injured Soldier in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan whose letters home we will never read, the Marine at Helmond Province whose heroic stories we'll never hear, and the Airman or Sailor whose remains arrived at Dover, Delaware, reverently draped with a U.S. flag, and whose family I will never meet."

Bebarta and his team also received the National Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Basic Science award.  It is presented to only one of 600 abstracts reviewed each year. Bebarta and his team have earned a SAEM award for an unprecedented fourth time in the last six years, a notable achievement considering civilian researchers from competing universities are also in the running.

The research, "A Randomized Trial of Intravenous Hydroxocobalamin compared to Whole Blood for Hemorrhagic Shock Resuscitation in a Prehospital Model," was presented at the 2014 SAEM Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas.  The society's decision was based on reviews of his abstract, manuscript, and presentation at the meeting.

Bebarta's name will be announced in the next issue of the SAEM Newsletter; he and his team members will be recognized and presented the award at the SAEM annual meeting in San Diego, California in May 2015.

"The patients we care for and their families have shaped me as researcher, a mentor, a physician, and an officer," said Bebarta. "I am truly humbled by the experience."