The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) announced that Dr. David Herndon will receive the quadrennial International Burn Foundation’s Tanner-Vandeput-Boswick Burn Prize for his achievements in research, treatment, and improvements in the quality of life of burn survivors.
According to a press release, Dr. David L. Callender, President of UTMB, noted that this recognition further highlights Herndon as an elite researcher and surgeon, based on his “contributions to the care of burn patients” as evidenced by his participation in the creation “of one of the best Blocker Burn Units (BBU) in the world,” which is also the first fully accredited center in the United States.
Herndon is currently the Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Chair in Burn Surgery at UTMB and Chief of Staff and Director of Research at Shriners Hospitals for Children, where the BBU is located.
Herndon’s career has been dedicated to better understanding the body’s reactions to burn injuries and to developing effective treatments to minimize the damage caused by serious burns. His findings in this field have made him a highly-recognized burn surgeon.
In an interview given last year with ResearchMedia Ltd, he explained that burn care became his primary professional focus while he was working for the military at the Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio in the early 1970s, and had close contact with victims of war- and military-related burn injuries. Realizing their poor outlooks after sustaining burn injuries, Herndon started his journey “in treating burn injuries and studying the metabolic responses to injury and treatment.”
To date, Dr. Herndon’s contribution to the advancement of burn treatment is part of what he characterizes as “great” progress, “particularly the reduction in mortality for those suffering from massive burn injuries.” The results obtained are a major help in the healing process, not only referring to “the patients’ wounds, but the whole human being.”
Herndon’s particular focus on the study of the human metabolic system is one of the research areas that has brought him into the spotlight. In an attempt to better understand how the human body reacts to a burn injury, he came to realize that the body’s natural response is in fact a problem that adds to the effect of the injuries. After a burn, the human body engages in a hyper metabolic reaction, characterized by “tachycardia, prolonged protein catabolism and loss of bone mineral content, which leads to brittle bones,” he explained to Research Media Ltd. Pediactric burn victims also suffer from stunted growth as well.
From the outset of his work, Herndon’s research has worked toward developing effective treatments to overcome these bodily reactions.
He has conducted more than 100 clinical trials to improve burn recovery, and he has mentored 174 fellows all over the world.
Earlier this year, Herndon was awarded the Medallion for Scientific Achievement by the American Surgical Association, the highest prize of the oldest surgical society in the United States.
The ceremony for the Tanner-Vandeput-Boswick Burn Prize will take place in October at the Congress of the International Society for Burn Injuries in Sydney, Australia.