Surgery professor given high honors


By Matt Lewis

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Published: Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, March 3, 2010

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UA professor of surgery David Armstrong

UA surgery professor Dr. David Armstrong will be recognized with the highest honor in the field of amputation prevention and wound healing by the American Diabetes Association.

“It’s a big award — it’s one of the biggest awards in diabetes, so it’s really an honor for somebody in our unit to get it, especially someone who’s not a endocrinologist or a foot surgeon,” said Dr. Joe Mills, University Medical Center chief of the Division of Vascular Surgery, UA surgery professor and co-director of UA’s Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance.

Armstrong, a professor of surgery and director of the UA’s Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance, recently won the Roger Pecoraro award.

“I look at this as more of a nod to my mentors rather than as a specific personal honor,” Armstrong said.

He said he grew up around podiatry, the study of the ankle, foot, and lower leg, spending time at his dad’s office.

“I will be receiving this award about six years to the day after he passed. So, I suppose that it belongs with him and the rest of the folks that guided and continue to guide me,” Armstrong said.

Dr. Rainer Gruessner, UA professor of surgery and immunology and surgery department chairman, and Mills also helped him succeed, Armstrong said.

Armstrong was invited to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show, according to Gruessner.

“The reason they picked him is (the Oprah Show) had contacted American Diabetes Association and the World Health Organization about wound healing and diabetic patients, and they were told that the person to talk to is Dr. Armstrong in Tucson,” he said.

He will receive the award in June at the American Diabetes Association’s symposium in Orlando, Fla.

According to members of the UA surgery department, Armstrong has published more peer-reviewed works than anyone in his field of podiatry. He has spoken in more than 40 countries and mentored other leaders in the field, such as Dr. Lee Rogers, associate director of the Amputation Prevention Center at Valley Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“Professor Armstrong is the world’s leader in amputation prevention. There is no one more deserving of this award, and I am humbled by the task of giving it to him,” Rogers said in a press release.

“Our SALSA (Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance) team … has been able to take the ‘Toe and Flow’ concept of marrying podiatric surgery with vascular surgery to a new level,” said Armstrong in a Gmail chat from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Monday. “In fact, we’ve been able to cut the number of high level amputations in persons with diabetes in half. I think we need to keep up this work and to try to ‘spread the SALSA’ nationwide and worldwide.”

He said that was part of the reason he was in Saudi Arabia and had been in Dubai earlier this week.

“The rate of diabetes here is in excAess of one in four of the Saudi population. In fact, I just met with the health ministry and members of the royal family to better project this message,” Armstrong said. “There is an amputation performed around the world every 30 seconds. Eight in 10 of these amputations is preventable. We can really make a difference.”

David G. Armstrong

Dedicated to amputation prevention, wound healing, diabetic foot, biotechnology and the intersection between medical devices and consumer electronics.

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