The renaissance man of burn surgery: Basil A. Pruitt, Jr.

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Abstract

Dr. Basil A. Pruitt Jr., a consummate clinical and translational surgeon-scientist, has spent over half a century at the forefront of an advancing standard of burn care. Commanding the US Army Institute for Surgical Research in San Antonio, he trained generations of leading burn clinicians and allied scientists. At his direction, there were forged discoveries in resuscitation from shock, treatment of inhalation injury, control of burn-related infections, prevention of iatrogenic complications, and understanding the sympathetic, endocrine, and immune responses to burn injury. Most consequentially, this team was among the first to recognize and define alterations in the basal metabolic rate and thermoregulation consequent to burn injury. These investigations prompted groundbreaking insights into the coordinated nervous, autonomic, endocrine, immune, and metabolic outflows that a severely burned patient uses to remain alive and restore homeostasis. Marking his scientific consequence, many of his reports continue to bear fruit when viewed through a contemporary lens. This article summarizes some of the major findings of his career thus far and is intended to complement a Festschrift recently held in his honor.

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