Dr. Frank S. Pettyjohn, professor of medicine and professor and chair of emergency medicine at the University of South Alabama College of the Medicine, was the first recipient of the John Ernsting Award. The award was presented to Dr. Pettyjohn at the Honors Ceremony of the Aerospace Medicine Association’s Annual Scientific Meeting this past May in Phoenix. Dr. Pettyjohn was honored for his long and distinguished career in aerospace medicine, which has enhanced the links between science and the clinical practice of aerospace medicine.
Dr. Pettyjohn has held a variety of positions in clinical and aerospace medicine. He has published numerous papers and abstracts on aerospace medicine, internal medicine and cardiology.
A native of Delaware, he graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering and entered the U.S. Army as a 2nd Lt. in the Corps of Engineers serving in Korea. Following his return, he received his medical degree from Hahnemann University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Dr. Pettyjohn served in Vietnam as a flight surgeon for the 17th Combat Aviation Group in 1966. On his return, he completed his internal medicine residency and cardiology fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center in Fort Lewis, Wash.
Dr. Pettyjohn completed a post-doctoral fellowship in public health/preventive medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. He also completed a residency in Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio. He served as cardiologist and flight surgeon for Operation Homecoming to return Vietnam POWs to the United States in 1973.
He joined the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Fort Rucker, Ala., conducting research in the fields of aeromedical evacuation, oxygen systems, trauma and altitude physiology. He continued his research at the Naval Aeromedical Research Laboratory in Pensacola, Fla. Upon leaving military service, he joined the USA College of Medicine as professor and chairman of the department of emergency medicine in 1989.
Dr. Pettyjohn was recalled to the U.S. Army in 1991 as a cardiologist and aviation medicine consultant at the U.S. Army Aeromedical Center during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He served as a member of the aeromedical team that returned the US POWs from Desert Storm to the United States. In December 2008, he again returned to active duty in the U.S. Army as a flight surgeon and cardiologist with the 345th Combat Support Hospital in Tikrit, Iraq.
He is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, preventive medicine (aerospace medicine) and emergency medicine. He is recognized internationally as an expert in aviation and space medicine and served as president of the International Academy of Aviation and Space Medicine from 2005 to 2007. Dr. Pettyjohn continues his research career in the fields of clinical medicine conducting trails of anti hypertensive medications, cholesterol treatment, and combined hypertension and diabetes management.
The John Ernsting Award recognizes the scientific contributions of Professor John Ernsting, MBBS, Ph.D., CB, OBE as the world expert in altitude physiology and aircrew protection. The award was established by the Aerospace Medical Association and sponsored by Environmental Tectonics Corporation to recognize the legacy of Professor Ernsting.