Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston —
“This institute has a reputation of conducting world-class combat casualty care research and I certainly want to continue that,” said Anthony E. Pusateri, Ph.D., the new director of research at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, or USAISR, at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
Pusateri joined the USAISR for the second time in August after working for two pharmaceutical companies in New Jersey and the USAISR’s headquarters the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, or USAMRMC, at Fort Detrick, Md.
“I came here in 1997 as a captain and I was a research physiologist primarily working on hemorrhage control research,” Pusateri said. “I was then asked to take over the laboratory support branch and helped develop it. Then we reorganized, and I moved back to the hemorrhage control task area until I left in 2005.”
Pusateri worked in the pharmaceutical industry for four years before joining USAMRMC in 2009 where he was the director of the Department of Defense Hemorrhage Resuscitation research and development program and the deputy director of the Combat Casualty Care Research Program.
“I liked working in the pharmaceutical industry, it was different and it gave me a different perspective,” he said. “But after a year or so, I began missing the focus on doing research for the Soldier.”
Some of the changes Pusateri noticed since returning are the increase in personnel, an additional research building where the Navy and Air Force conduct research, as well as the expansion in the combat casualty care research capability.
“We had a tremendous capability then, but it’s much bigger now and much more modern,” Pusateri said. “What’s funny is that when I first came here, Brooke Army Medical Center was called the new BAMC, and this was the new USAISR building. Now it’s the old USAISR building and we’re doing renovations to it.”
Pusateri did not think he would be returning to San Antonio when he left for New Jersey in 2005, but he is happy to be back in this role to improve combat casualty care research, he said.
“I want to do everything that I can to enable our researchers to meet the Institute’s mission,” he stated. “I want to give everyone the opportunity to develop professionally so that they will want to stay and other people will want to come here to work.
“I am open to people’s ideas. There’s a lot of brainpower here and I want to use it to do cutting edge and impactful research in burns and trauma.”
Pusateri believes he has the personnel throughout the USAISR with the expertise and experience to influence research that is focused on the Institute’s mission.
“We’re focusing on capability gaps so we can accomplish this because we have physicians and scientists who have deployed and bring that experience and background to our task areas to focus on research that will save lives on the battlefield,” he said
Pusateri knows firsthand the importance of battlefield medical care, since he began his time in the Army as an infantry officer. He attended college through the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps at the University of Illinois specifically to become an infantry officer.
It wasn’t until his last year in college that he participated in agricultural research studies and realized he really loved research.
After fulfilling his active duty obligation with the 82nd Airborne Division, he remained in the Army Reserves and attended Iowa State University, where he earned his master’s degree in reproductive physiology and endocrinology. He then he attended Purdue University and earned his Ph.D., also in reproductive physiology and endocrinology.
“In between my master’s and Ph.D., I worked for a pharmaceutical veterinarian company as an associate research scientist,” Pusateri said. “I didn’t know that the Army had research scientists, but when I was about a year out from getting my Ph.D., I found out the Army had researchers, so I applied to get back in and switched to the Medical Service Corps officer as a research physiologist in 1994.”
Since then, the native of Hanover Park, Ill., has been doing hemorrhage resuscitation research. Pusateri believes his experience as an Army officer, researcher and pharmaceutical researcher will enable him to support the USAISR mission of optimizing combat casualty care.
“We have all of the right experience and skills to collaborate with academia and industry to continue the tradition of cutting edge burn and trauma research,” he said.