In recognition of his outstanding efforts regarding the practice of hyperbaric medicine as a treatment for traumatic brain injury, U.S. Navy Capt. Brett Hart was selected as recipient of the 2017 Excellence in Hyperbaric Medicine Award, presented by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Naples, Florida. Hart currently serves as director of the Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBO2) Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, Fort Detrick, Maryland.
First presented in 2002, and previously known as the Carolyn Sue Ray Memorial Award, the Excellence in Hyperbaric Medicine Award is given each year to an individual UHMS member in recognition of continued diligence and excellence in the practice of hyperbaric medicine, particularly in the areas of basic and clinical research as it might impact patient care.
Now in its 50th year, the UHMS is a non-profit organization that serves more than 2,000 physicians, scientists, associates and nurses worldwide in the fields of hyperbaric and dive medicine. Through its various outlets, the UHMS remains a widely recognized source of scientific and medical information pertaining to hyperbaric medicine involving hyperbaric oxygen therapy and diving.
Most recently, under Hart's direction, the HBO2 Research Project Management Office has served as the project manager for a series of scientific studies in cooperation with commercial partners to ascertain novel physiologic and neuroimaging outcome measures that will help to advance the ability of both the Department of Defense and non-military medical communities to identify and develop new treatments for mild TBI.
With an unfailing dedication to this particular field of study, Hart remains very clear on what he hopes to achieve in the coming years.
"My goal has always been to leverage the proven and yet-to-be-proven benefits of hyperbaric oxygen in optimizing the recovery and restoration of function to our wounded warriors," he explained. "Having the opportunity to validate, for both the DOD and the Warfighter, hyperbaric oxygen's value in refractory infections, compartment syndromes, failing flaps and grafts, compromised amputation sites and, based on our latest research, post-traumatic stress disorder, would embody professional nirvana for me."
Although the UHMS presented this award to Hart for his individual work in the field of hyperbaric medicine, he was quick to clarify that these achievements were garnered with the assistance of numerous colleagues throughout his career.
"No individual succeeds without the help of others," said Hart. "In my case, I credit my mentors at Duke University for instilling in me a love for clinical research and, since 2008, Dr. Lin Weaver and the USAMMDA HBO2 PMO team for maintaining their steadfast commitment to objectively evaluating hyperbaric oxygen as a potential treatment for combat-induced TBI and PTSD.
"Hyperbaric oxygen, like any drug, is not a [cure-all]," he continued. "It is, however, a useful treatment adjunct to 'standard of care' management for many of our active duty personnel. Through research, my job is to inform both the DOD and my professional colleagues how best this can be done."
Hart began his distinguished career as a 1988 graduate of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and completed a surgical internship at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (formerly Naval Hospital Portsmouth) prior to additional specialty training as an Undersea Medical Officer. From 1989 to 1993, he was assigned as the Command Surgeon for Seal Team Six. In 1993, Hart entered Anesthesiology residency training at NMCP. In 1998, Hart pursued formal Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine fellowship training at Duke University. Upon completion of his training, he assumed a concurrent assignment as Department Head for NMCP's Hyperbaric Medicine and Clinical Investigation departments.
In 2004, Hart returned to operational medicine as the Senior Medical Officer for Submarine Group Ten, Kings Bay, Georgia, and in 2006, was assigned to the Navy Medicine Operational Training Center, Pensacola, Florida, where he concurrently served as the head of the Hyperbaric Medicine Department, NMOTC's Clinical Research Program Chair, senior Credentials Advisor and the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute's primary medical consultant for aviation decompression illness.
In 2015, Hart transferred to USAMMDA, where he currently serves as director of the HBO2 Research Program. Other professional achievements include election as President of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (2010-2012), and volunteer service both as a member of the UHMS Board of Directors and as chair of the Hyperbaric Facility Accreditation Council. Hart is an inaugural fellow of Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine, adjunct assistant professor at the Uniformed Services University Department of Military and Emergency Medicine, and chair of the American Board of Preventive Medicine's Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Board Examination Committee.
As a subordinate command of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, USAMMDA is the Department of Defense's advanced development activity for products designed to protect and preserve the lives of Warfighters. As the premier developer of military medical solutions worldwide, USAMMDA develops new drugs, vaccines and medical support equipment that enhance readiness, ensures the provision of the highest quality medical care to the DOD and maximizes survival of medical casualties on the battlefield.