After spending countless hours in medical labs over the years, the American Surgical Association presented General Surgery Prof. Robert Bartlett with the Medallion for Scientific Achievement. As the first University surgeon to receive the award, Bartlett was honored for his work with Extracorpreal Membrane Oxygenation.

Bartlett said his research examines the use of artificial organs as a means to understand the factors causing heart, lung and kidney failure in critically ill patients.

“The stimulus (for this research) was these critically ill patients,” Bartlett said.

“Dr. Bartlett, recognized for his pioneering work … which has saved the lives of thousands of babies, was the 17th Medallion recipient,” ASA executive director Bob Jones said in a written statement.

While his research began with infant patients, Bartlett’s work now extends to older children and adult patients, and intensive care units at major hospitals throughout the country now incorporate his work with their own.

The significance of Bartlett’s research comes from the new, enhanced understanding of organ failure. Bartlett said without the contributions of many co-workers, the research would not be as renowned.

“Only candidates who have had true achievements that have changed the way we think and practice medicine or whose discoveries have been revolutionary, as was the case with Dr. Bartlett, will receive the award,” ASA secretary Carlos Pellegrini said in a written statement.

“I’m glad the University is getting this recognition,” Bartlett said. “There’s a big team at the medical center. I’ve worked with lab researchers, clinical teams. Over the years several hundred people have worked on this project.”

“The patients are the people who get the most credit. Patients and their families take the major risks, not us,” he added.

Jones said Bartlett is lucky to be the recipient of such a prestigious award.

“The award is the highest award bestowed by the ASA and it is given at the request and selection of the Nominating Committee and the Council of the organization,” Pellegrini said.

ASA is the country’s oldest surgical organization and has members from around the world. According to the ASA, the association’s primary mission is to be the premier organization for surgical science and to provide a national forum for its members’ research.

Since its establishment in 1969, the Medallion for Scientific Achievement has only been awarded to 16 other surgeons.

In the past, Bartlett was honored for his work by the American College of Surgeon’s Sheen Award for Surgical Research in 1996 and the Ravdin Lecture Award in 2001.

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