Congratulations to this year’s ABA Award Recipients!

ABA Lifetime Achievement Award

Palmer Q. Bessey, MD, FACS, MS
Weill Cornell Medicine/New York Presbyterian Hospital
New York, NY

Dr. Palmer Q. Bessey, MD, FACS, MS is the Aronson Family Foundation Professor of Burn Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, where he has also served as Associate Director of the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center.

He was born and raised in a New Jersey suburb within view of New York City and graduated from public high school.  He attended Williams College in Northwestern Massachusetts and graduated in 1967.  Although he formally majored in chemistry, he spent most of his time in the theatre.  After obtaining a Master’s degree in Physical Chemistry from the University of Oregon, sandwiched between two years as a laboratory technician in Boston, he began medical school at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington, where he graduated in 1975.

He completed surgical residency and a special fellowship in surgical critical care at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) as well as a research fellowship in surgical metabolism at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.  Later in New York, in a senior moment, he completed Master’s studies in Epidemiology at Columbia University.  He began his academic career at UAB.  He has also held faculty positions at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Rochester. He moved to Cornell in 2000.

Although his focus initially was on Trauma and Critical Care, he always participated in the care of burn patients.  He saw his first serious burn case in medical school: a 50 year old with a 50% burn.  Hopeless at that time.  At UAB he had the good fortune to work with Alan Dimick and later in St. Louis with William Monafo, both pioneers in contemporary burn care and early Presidents of the ABA.

Dr. Bessey was part of the team at Cornell that helped care for the major burn survivors of the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.  He has dedicated his career to improving the care of people with serious injuries from trauma and burns, striving for both survival and quality of life. He has served as a State Chair and Region Chief on the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons and as a Director of the American Board of Surgery.  He has been a member of the ABA since 1979.  He has served on several committees, especially those related to the ABA burn registry: NBR, BQIP, and now QBRC.  He was elected ABA Secretary in 2008 and was President in 2013-2014.

He continues his academic activities at Cornell, hoping that neither achievement nor lifetime will end too soon.

Harvey Stuart Allen Distinguished Service Award

J.A. Jeevendra Martyn, MD, FRCA, FCCM
Shriners Hospitals for Children
Boston, MA

Dr. J.A. Jeevendra (Jeeva) Martyn has had an exceptional career of scientific inquiry and endeavor throughout his academic career and continues to do so even today. Dr. Martyn is Director of the Clinical and Biochemical Pharmacology Laboratory of the Department of Anesthesia at Massachusetts General Hospital and Shriners Hospital for Children, Anesthetist-in-Chief at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston, and Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Martyn previously has received the Excellence in Research Award (2010), the highest recognition that can be bestowed for research by the American Society of Anesthesiologists. In 2017, Dr. Martyn received the Excellence in Mentoring Award from the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiology. The latter award recognizes his direct research mentorship of over 70 postdoctoral research fellows who have moved on to pursue academic careers and many of whom have become major figures in anesthesiology or other disciplines in the biosciences. Today’s Allen Award represents the pinnacle of professional achievement, acknowledging the designee for research of an original, sustained, clinically relevant, and lasting nature.

Dr. Martyn is an outstanding anesthetist cum intensivist who has profoundly influenced the science and practice of anesthesiology and critical care medicine of the burned patient. In his role as clinical and basic investigator, he has revolutionized the peri-operative care of burn patients. He is a world authority on burn-induced up-regulation and down-regulation of the acetylcholine receptor in muscle and its interaction with agonist and antagonist drugs1 and PMID: 16394702). This includes the elucidation of the altered responses succinylcholine and non-depolarizing muscle relaxants, He has contributed most of what we know about the molecular mechanisms of critical illness-induced insulin resistance, with the therapeutic goal of correcting the muscle wasting and associated disuse-induced muscle atrophy. Finally, he is the world’s leading authority on the clinical pharmacology of perioperative drugs of critically ill burned patients.

Medical research is at its best when observations made on a sample of patients could be applied to a broader class, thereby contributing to the benefit of medicine at large. This sentiment aptly describes the most defining aspect of Dr. Martyn’s work. Throughout his career, he has applied his clinical interest and personal observations to define clinically important questions identified in the operating room or intensive care unit and then used these observations as the impetus to create and guide laboratory studies to define mechanisms and improve care. To accomplish his goals, he often has transformed himself as a scientist by learning and applying a myriad of new techniques. Most of his findings, usually arising from observations in the burn population, have led back to the bedside, where they have proved beneficial to a much broader spectrum of patients than originally envisioned. This approach epitomizes the goals of modern investigative medicine.

Dr. Martyn was born in Sri Lanka and received his medical degree from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, before coming to the United States. Having completed his residency in Anesthesiology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University-Presbyterian Hospital, he extended his training at the Radcliffe Infirmary and the University of Oxford, England. After a formal National Institutes of Health-sponsored postdoctoral research training fellowship, his self-directed evolution as a research scientist and academic career commenced. He has spent his entire post-training career at Massachusetts General Hospital and Shriners Hospital for Children, spawning a gamut of investigation from cell culture, whole-animal/human studies, and pharmacokinetics to molecular medicine. His studies on the clinical and basic pharmacology of a number of important drugs have explained the mechanisms that account for the altered responses to these drugs in critically ill and burned patients. These studies have ultimately redefined the dosing schedules for several drugs commonly used in the burn intensive care unit.

All of these studies set the stage for Dr. Martyn’s most important research into the mechanics of insulin resistance of critical illness and how its affects not only glucose homeostasis but also how that deficiency effects muscle mass changes. For several years, almost all investigators including Dr. Martyn have focused on studying aberrant signaling changes in muscle to explain the muscle wasting of critical illness. His laboratory was the first to document that the loss of insulin (anabolic) signaling results apoptosis in muscle and the apoptotic pathways that are most often activated. These studies revealed a new form of mass loss with illness and disuse atrophy. Correction of these signaling changes, however, did not result in complete abstinence of decreased muscle loss after critical illness. Most recently, Dr. Martyn’s studies had a paradigm shift where he delved into the central nervous system-mediated causes of muscle mass loss including motor neuron apoptosis caused by activated microglia releasing inflammatory cytokines.  Another area of clinical and basic research is the etiology of the exaggerated opioid tolerance that one sees in burned pediatric ICU patients. His studies over the last 15 years have elucidated the spinal cord signal transduction changes that occur with injury. Notably again his studies documented spinal microglia activation seen with both injury and opioids alone and further activation when the two perturbations were combined.  The role of innate immune responses by glia cells in the exaggerated tolerance to opioids seen in critical illness has been reviewed by Martyn et al in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2019.

Finally, Dr. Martyn’s encouragement of the intellectual growth and development of his trainees has been the hallmark of his approach to teaching. His disarming ability to excel simultaneously in clinical care, teaching, and clinical and basic science research mark him as a role model for academic anesthesiologists and other physician-scientists. His educational prowess is evidence not only in the knowledge he imparts to his peers, fellows, and residents, but also in the example he sets as an educator. He has shown himself to be an exceptional advisor, teacher without peer, stalwart skilled scientist, colleague, and sensitive supportive friend.  Throughout his academic career, Dr. Martyn has instituted a meticulous laboratory that is reflected in his continuous record of funding by the National Institutes of Health and the Shriners Hospitals Research Philanthropy. He has attracted talented individuals, many of whom have benefited from his mentorship in their own careers. He is an outstanding example of the best in U.S. academic anesthesiology. Dr. Martyn is well regarded by colleagues for his warm and congenial personality. Humble to a fault, he is sometimes overlooked when we list the giants of our field. Given his multidisciplinary impact, however, he very much deserves to be listed among the leaders of our discipline. His clinical and basic science research findings have formed the foundation upon which modern pediatric burn care is practiced and in many other disciplines across medicine. In short, Dr. Martyn exemplifies the kind of physician-scientist one aspires to be. A dedicated husband and father and always had a fantastic family life with wife, Raji, their sons, Rajeeve, Sanjeeve, and Trejeeve, daughters-in-law, Melissa and Jess and of course his grandchildren, Joseph and Arya.

Dr. J. A. Jeevendra (Jeeva) Martyn is most deserving of this award.

ABA Special Achievement Award

Gretchen Carrougher, MN, RN
UW Medicine Regional Burn Center at Harborview
Seattle, WA

Gretchen J. Carrougher MN, RN, is the Research Nurse Supervisor at the University of Washington (UW) Medicine Regional Burn Center/Northwest Regional Burn Model System and Affiliate Faculty, UW School of Nursing, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems in Seattle, Washington.

Ms. Carrougher graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (1981) and a Master of Nursing degree (1987) in Burn, Trauma and Emergency Nursing. She has held positions as clinical staff nurse, clinical nurse specialist, and research nurse during her 29-year burn nursing career. Ms. Carrougher has worked at three distinguished burn centers in the US: Washington Hospital Center, Washington DC; the US Army Institute of Surgical Research, San Antonio; and the UW Medicine Regional Burn Center, Seattle. Ms. Carrougher is national faculty for the Advanced Burn Life Support (ABLS) course and has been a member of the American Burn Association (ABA) since 1982. She has authored/co-authored over 90 chapters and manuscripts concerning basic nursing care, long-term outcomes, pain and pruritus management, and employment for individuals impacted by burn injury. Gretchen is also a longstanding international nurse educator, focusing primarily in Central America where she has consistently taught (and been welcomed by many friends and colleagues) over the past 12 years. Gretchen has served on many professional committees but sees her current position as chair of the ABA Nursing Professional Certification Committee as her greatest challenge to date, but one that will likely realize the most significant professional impact and greatest personal rewards.

The energy, excitement and support from burn nurses around the world in the ABA’s current efforts to seek specialty recognition and ultimately, certification — has been unprecedented and much appreciated. In addition to her professional work and her valued burn team colleagues, Gretchen has a wonderful family – to include a new grandson.

John A. Moncrief Award

San Jose Fire Fighters Burn Foundation
San Jose, CA

Barbara Knothe Burn Therapist Achievement Award

In Memory of Elizabeth Rivers, MA, OTR, RN
St. Paul, MN

Liz Rivers was a seminal burn clinician for more than 25 years and an ABA member for the 20 years. Her life-long desire to learn and serve others was manifested in her professions as a nurse and an occupational therapist. After graduating from Saint Mary’s School of Nursing (Rochester, MN) in 1959, she began her career at the University of Minnesota Hospital and later worked at Shriners Hospital. In 1972, she completed her BA in Occupational Therapy at St. Catherine’s University (St. Paul, MN). Liz began working at St. Paul Ramsey Medical Center (currently Regions Hospital) and became the Burn Rehabilitation Specialist for the burn program.

In the early 1970s, she visited the Shiners Burn Center in Galveston, TX, where she had the opportunity to work with the center’s experienced OT, Barbara Willis. Willis used the Shrine technique of burn therapy, an opaque thermoplastic face mask that patients wore as their facial burns healed. However, Liz was not satisfied with the mask. She thought patients should wear a clear, transparent mask to allow them to see and participate in the world around them. Liz then began a relentless process of trial and error with various plastics, trying to find the one that would work best. In 1977, she found the perfect plastic and published her method in 1979. When asked how she created the face mask, Liz said “God made the plastic face mask through my fingers so that little children could go back to school. They didn’t want to go back to school with those fabric hoods.”

Believing every burn patient should benefit from a transparent face mask, Liz taught therapists at ABA meeting how to make the masks themselves using simple tools. As lead author, she presented multiple abstracts about her masks at the ABA annual meetings through 1995. As of 2015, Liz ranked fourth among all burn therapists for the most abstracts accepted and presented at the ABA. Most notably, she was the primary author of the burn community’s most cited face mask article: “The Transparent Face Mask” published in a 1979 issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy.

Liz shared her clinical knowledge over the years, speaking at 6 ABA educational sessions and presiding as moderator over 7 scientific and sunrise symposia. Additionally, she served on 3 ABA committees, including her first committee appoint to the Membership Advisory Committee (MAC). In 1986, Liz was appointed to serve on the Ad Hoc Rehabilitation Committee and Research Committee, as a notable therapist member. She received the Curtis P. Artz Distinguished Service was in 1986 for her extensive contributions to burn rehabilitation practice.

For all who worked with Liz, we remember her as driven, compassionate, and innovative. She had high expectations for providing the best quality of care while allowing time for fun and the creative process. To be Liz’s friend or patient was to be blessed with her quiet grace and steadfast love.

Liz retired in 1998 from the Regions Hospital burn team, but remained active in the local burn community. She continued to be a resource for teaching face mask skills and was a champion for providing effective burn rehabilitation to all burn survivors.

In 2015, Liz’s transparent face mask article was recognized as an example of innovation that changed the practice of burn rehabilitation and that continues to be utilized around the world in clinical practice 37-years after its development. With the transparent face mask, Liz Rivers had established and distinguished herself as a pioneer from the Midwest in the field of burn rehabilitation. Therefore, for all reasons cited, she truly deserves to be recognized for her contributions to the burn field and to be bestowed with the title of Madam of Burn Rehabilitation.

Curtis P. Artz Distinguished Service Award

Heather Shankowsky, RN, CCRP
University of Alberta Hospital
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Heather Shankowsky grew up in rural Saskatchewan before graduating in 1978 as a Registered Nurse from the Royal Alexandra Hospital School of Nursing in Edmonton AB. She was an Operating Room nurse at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. She started her research career as a Research Assistant at the Cross Cancer Institute, before joining the Firefighters’ Burn Treatment Unit at the University of Alberta Hospital in 1986 where she worked until her retirement in 2013.

In her role as Research Nurse, Heather worked with the burn unit and the Division of Plastic Surgery to implement all aspects of research and clinical trials which focused on prevention of nosocomial infections and the treatment of hypertrophic scarring. She assisted with the introduction of new equipment (VAC™ dressing, MEEK Micrograft™) and new therapies (Acticoat™, Integra™) within the hospital. As a member of the Wound Healing Research group, she coordinated the initial animal and then human trials of Acticoat™, one of the first silver coated dressings in burn care.

During her career, Heather served as a coordinator and member of organizing committees for programs within the American Burn Association (ABA), the International Society of Burn Injuries (ISBI), and locally at the University of Alberta Hospital. She was an active member of the ABA from 1990 to 2013, serving on numerous committees over the years, including the Program Committee, Membership At-Large Committee (MAC), Research Committee, and the Burn Prevention Committee. Heather also spent over 20 years assisting Dr. Edward Tredget with the organizing and planning of the Canadian Special Interest Group meeting held annually at the ABA.

Heather and Len have two married children and three grandchildren. Currently, Heather and her husband are enjoying golf, traveling and retirement with friends and family in Edmonton and Phoenix.

Heather has chosen to donate her award to the Canadian Special Interest Group.

Burn Prevention Award

Rebecca Coffey, PhD, MSN, CNP
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Columbus, OH

Becky Coffey, PhD, APRN is the Nurse Practitioner for the burn service at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Dr. Coffey graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Science in 1978, and received her Master of Science in 1982.  She received her PhD in nursing from The Ohio State University in 2016.

Since coming to Ohio State,  Becky has worked with student life at the university to address prevention needs for the college community.  Various programs, such as Smoke and Out training for students, and burn prevention activities at the freshman Student Involvement Fair, were started and now are continued by student life.

The Safe Signals Project was supported by a Grant from Autism Speaks and was launched on 12/12/11.  This was designed to promote safety for older teens and young adults with autism, and the program includes a video and workbook, covering burn prevention topics for the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living areas,  and utility spaces.

During her career she has been an active member of the ABA Burn Prevention committee, and has been the chair of the Burn Prevention special interest group for the past 4 years.

Becky and her husband Doug have two married children and two grandsons. They enjoy traveling to see the grandsons, swimming, and their two German Shepherds.

Albert T. McManus Burn Microbiology Paper Award

William Nethery, PharmD
Shriners Hospital for Children
Cincinnati, OH

Peter Brigham Burn Epidemiology Best Paper Award

Randy D. Kearns, DHA, MSA, CEM, NRP ret.
University of New Orleans
New Orleans, LA

The early career for Dr. Kearns included working as a paramedic, rescue chief and firefighter. For 30+ years, he taught paramedic and other emergency services programs at several community colleges in the Carolinas while also leading multiple emergency management and EMS organizations. Dr. Kearns has been a responder to 20+ presidentially declared disasters as a local, state and federal representative. In 2014, Dr. Kearns retired (from the State of North Carolina) as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina, School of Medicine. After spending four years as the Healthcare Management Program Chair for the Tillman School of Business at the University of Mount Olive, Dr. Kearns joined the faculty for the College of Business Administration at the University of New Orleans in 2018 where he teaches management and healthcare administration.

Clinical Research Paper Award

Bernadette Nedelec, PhD, BSc, OT(C), BT-C
McGill University
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Bernadette Nedelec is a Professor at McGill University, an occupational therapist, a certified burn therapist, and a researcher at the Villa Medica Rehabilitation Hospital, which is part of the Montréal Burn Centre.

Robert B. Lindberg Basic Scientist Paper Award

Liam Kirkpatrick, BS
Firefighters’ Burn and Surgical Research Laboratory
Medstar Washington Hospital Center
Washington, DC

Liam Kirkpatrick is a research assistant in the Firefighters’ Burn and Surgical Research Laboratory at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. In 2019, Liam graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and a minor in earth and planetary science. He plans to pursue a career in medicine. Liam enjoys basketball, hiking, and skateboarding

Burke/Yannas Bioengineering Best Paper Award

Dorothy Supp, PhD
Shriners Hospital for Children
Cincinnati, OH

Dr. Dorothy Supp is a Senior Investigator and Director of Research at Shriners Hospital for Children—Cincinnati, and is an adjunct Research Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Cornell University and a PhD in Development Biology from the University of Cincinnati. Her desire to pursue translational research led her to Shriners Hospital, a pediatric burn hospital, where she did a postdoctoral fellowship in Tissue Engineering. Since then, her laboratory’s research has focused on skin tissue engineering and wound healing, with the overarching goal of improving the quality of life for patients with skin wounds, scars, and skin diseases. Her current research interests include development and testing of next-generation skin substitutes, prevention and treatment of excessive scarring, and cutaneous gene therapy. Her research has been funded by grants from Shriners Hospitals for Children, with additional funding from the NIH and US Department of Defense.

Carl A. Moyer Resident Paper Award

Christopher Ha Pham, MD
LAC + USC Regional Burn Center
Los Angeles, CA

Chris is a first year resident in the Integrated Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery program at the University of Southern California (USC), which is home to the LAC+USC Regional Burn Center. He first developed his interest in burns when he was a medical student at USC and was inspired by the work of Drs. Warren Garner and Justin Gillenwater as they cared for the sickest patients in the hospital. He is interested in the intersection of data science and clinical research and how the near infinite amount of data generated in the electronic health record can be better handled and interpreted to improve patient outcomes. Chris plans to apply for burn fellowship after residency and to leverage his training as a reconstructive surgeon in order to care for patients from “resuscitation to reconstruction”. 

National Burn Repository (NBR) Best Paper Award

Christopher Ha Pham, MD
LAC + USC Regional Burn Center
Los Angeles, CA

Chris is a first year resident in the Integrated Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery program at the University of Southern California (USC), which is home to the LAC+USC Regional Burn Center. He first developed his interest in burns when he was a medical student at USC and was inspired by the work of Drs. Warren Garner and Justin Gillenwater as they cared for the sickest patients in the hospital. He is interested in the intersection of data science and clinical research and how the near infinite amount of data generated in the electronic health record can be better handled and interpreted to improve patient outcomes. Chris plans to apply for burn fellowship after residency and to leverage his training as a reconstructive surgeon in order to care for patients from “resuscitation to reconstruction”. 

ABA/Shriners Best Pediatric Burn Paper Award

Adam Padalko, BSc
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Adam Padalko is a third year medical student from the University of Manitoba Max Rady Faculty of Medicine. He research experience with Dr. Sarvesh Logsetty when he entered medical school. He  quickly developed a focus on burn injuries after finding it interesting how environmental factors can influence risk of burns injury in particular. Moving forward, he hopes to continue looking at burn prevention, treatment and long term outcomes, while pursuing the field of plastic surgery to dedicate his clinical career to these injuries.