Gordon R. Bernard, MD, will receive the American College of Critical Care Medicine’s highest honor, the Distinguished Investigator Award, during the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s (SCCM) 46th Critical Care Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
“I am absolutely delighted to be recognized by the American College of Critical Care Medicine for my investigative work in critical illness. It is indeed a very great honor and I am humbled by it,” said Dr. Bernard, also sharing recognition with the investigative teams he has worked with during his career. “This kind of work requires strong teamwork.”
The Distinguished Investigator Award honors clinical researchers for meritorious and pioneering work in critical care and for significantly contributing to the understanding of the diseases and treatments of critically ill and injured patients. Dr. Bernard will be honored for his many research contributions, including those related to improving the care and outcomes of critically ill patients with sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). He will deliver the presentation “Critical Care Research in the Age of Electronic Data Acquisition.”
“Dr. Bernard is a true leader in clinical research in critical care,” said SCCM President Todd Dorman, MD, FCCM.
“I can think of no one more deserving of the Distinguished Investigator Award,” said Dr. Bernard’s coauthor and Surviving Sepsis Campaign Guideline Committee colleague Mitchell M. Levy, MD, MCCM, echoing Dr. Dorman’s sentiment. “He has been a driving force in clinical trials for sepsis and ARDS for many years. His accomplishments have had a major impact on the management of critically ill patients and we all owe Dr. Bernard a debt of gratitude for his dedication and rigorous approach to science.”
Dr. Bernard earned an undergraduate double major in biology and chemistry at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, Louisiana, USA, in 1972, going on to receive his medical degree from Louisiana State University in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, in 1976. He completed his residency training in internal medicine at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky, USA, in 1979, and went on to complete his subspecialty training in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, in 1981, joining the Vanderbilt faculty as a physician scientist that same year. In 1983, Dr. Bernard became medical director of the medical intensive care unit and director of pulmonary and critical care research programs.
Dr. Bernard’s research has primarily focused on improving the care and outcomes of critically ill patients with sepsis and ARDS. In 1987 he established the Vanderbilt Coordinating Center to support the large multi-institutional and international clinical investigations he was leading. He has conducted basic, translational and clinical research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). From 1994 to 2014, he led the NIH ARDS Clinical Trials Network—the principal NIH team focused on clinical research in intensive care.
It is the work that Dr. Bernard did while chairing the NIH ARDS Clinical Trials Network steering committee that brings him the most pride. “The work with that group helped to transform the treatment of ARDS and other critical illnesses across the world, especially the finding that low-tidal-volume, lung-protective ventilation saves lives when routinely used in patients with ARDS,” said Bernard.
For the past five years, he has served as director of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Consortium Coordinating Center for the NIH national consortium of 62 CTSAs, which are located at the nation’s most prestigious research hospitals. His local CTSA has developed innovative programs that are freely available and widely utilized in research by consortium and international audiences (eg, Research Electronic Data Capture [REDCap], ResearchMatch, IRBshare, IRBchoice), and soon will launch the new National Center for the Acceleration of Translational Science (NCATS) central institutional review board (IRB) process, SMART IRB.
During Dr. Bernard’s time at Vanderbilt, he also served as associate director of the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine from 1997 to 2001, and division director from 2001 to 2007. In 2004 he was named assistant vice-chancellor for research, and in 2009 was promoted to associate vice-chancellor for research—a post, renamed Executive Vice President for Research in 2016, he holds to this day. In these roles, Dr. Bernard oversees the extensive, multifaceted clinical and translational research programs of Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). He is currently chief research officer at VUMC.
As Executive Vice President for research, Dr. Bernard has oversight for the Office of Contract Management, the Human Research Protection Program and the Center for Technology Transfer & Commercialization. He closely collaborates with the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the CTSA consortium to achieve the goals of the CTSA program, both locally and on a national level. In this role, he serves as the director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and the principal investigator of Vanderbilt’s CTSA, an NIH-funded program that is supported by one of the largest single grants in VUMC history—more than $90 million in the first 10 years.
Adding to this accomplished resume, Dr. Bernard is also a member of the Association of American Physicians and has coauthored more than 275 original articles and book chapters. He has served in leadership roles on many steering committees and advisory councils, including chairing the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) ARDS Clinical Trials Network Steering Committee, the International Sepsis Forum, and the NHLBI External Boards of Advisors, and co-chairing the American-European Consensus Conference on ARDS.