GSSM Alumnus Dr. Vik Bebarta ‘90 receives Hero of Military Medicine Award

May 17, 2022

On May 5, 2022, South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) alumnus Dr. Vik Bebarta ‘90 received the Hero of Military Medicine Award in Washington, DC, through the USAF Surgeon General and The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc. The annual Hero of Military Medicine award honors outstanding contributions by senior leaders, medical professionals, and civilians who distinguished themselves through excellence and dedication to advancing military medicine and strengthening the lives and health of our nation’s wounded, ill, and injured service members, veterans, their families, and civilians. One person of any medical area (physician, surgeon, nursing, medic, etc) is recognized from each military branch, including some posthumously awarded after combat. Bebarta is the first Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics, George Washington University, and United States Air Force Academy graduate to be awarded.  

“Vik spoke last year to the Class of 2021 as our first alumni commencement speaker. He told of his journey from Denmark, SC, to GSSM to the Air Force Academy, serving multiple tours overseas to founding a combat military medical research center,” President Danny Dorsel said. “He is one of my heroes! We are proud of Vik’s recognition for this prestigious award. We are honored that he continues to recognize the impact that his time at GSSM had on his career and personal trajectory.”

Vik Bebarta, MD, is a senior physician-scientist with extensive military leadership. He is a professor, departmental vice chair, research center director, and executive at the University of Colorado (CU) School of Medicine. Dr. Bebarta’s work has shaped military and civilian emergency trauma care and national policy. He has been continuously federally funded for over twenty years, solving the toughest clinical challenges for civilian and military care. 

He is the Founding Director of the Center for Combat and Battlefield (COMBAT) Research, a CU Anschutz Campus joint venture targeting acute care, critical care, combat casualty care research, and a federally-funded NIH translational drug development lab. He serves as Vice-Chair for Strategy and Growth for the Department of Emergency Medicine and on a five-member National Security Advisor Group reporting directly to the CU System President.   

Dr. Bebarta is a Colonel in the US Air Force Reserve in the Office of the Chief Scientist. A decorated veteran with four combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, he served 14 years of active duty. In this capacity, he led several large departments and innovative programs, including Director of the Enroute Care Research Center, Branch Chief of the Joint Trauma System (Department of Defense Center of Excellence for Trauma), and Chief of Emergency Medicine and the Department of Defense Combat Theater Consultant for Medical Toxicology during each deployment. He leads several federal research steering committees, research foundations, healthcare industry collaborations, and advisory boards. He has published 220 manuscripts, has been awarded federal research and innovation grants totaling $67 million, and has been presented with numerous awards in recognition of his career excellence, innovation, and leadership. 

Dr. Bebarta grew up in Denmark, South Carolina and was a member of the first graduating class of the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics in 1990. He received his undergraduate degree at the US Air Force Academy as a Distinguished Graduate and collegiate boxer, medical school at the George Washington University, emergency medicine residency at Denver Health Medical Center/the University of Colorado (Chief Resident), and medical toxicology fellowship at the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center. He is an avid runner, skier, traveler, and youth coach. He and his wife Corey have three amazing children.