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Boothby-Edwards Award - Philip Scarpa & the AsMA PMHWG

June 23, 2017

Boothby-Edwards Award - Philip Scarpa & the AsMA PMHWG

Established in memory of Walter M. Boothby, M.D., pioneer aviation medicine researcher, and Howard K. Edwards, M.D., clinical practitioner of aviation medicine, this award is presented annually for outstanding research and/or clinical practice directed at the promotion of health and prevention of disease in professional airline pilots. (The separate Boothby and Edwards Awards were given annually 1961–73, and then alternately until 1985.) Sponsored by Harvey W. Watt & Co.

   The 2017 Boothby-Edwards Award was presented to the AsMA Pilot Mental Health Working Group (PMHWG) and Philip J. Scarpa, Jr., M.D., M.S., chair of the working group. In 2012 and again in 2015, the AsMA PMHWG drafted and updated recommendations on the need for improved awareness and identification of pilot mental health issues. The group's recommendations were distributed globally and significantly improved pilot health and aviation safety worldwide.
   In the photo to the left, Dr. Scarpa (center) accepts the award from Fred Tilton (right), representing Harvey Watt & Co., and David Gradwell (left), AsMA President. In the photo below, members of the AsMA PMHWG who were at the meeting are shown. Fred Tilton (top right) represents the sponsor, Harvey W. Watt & Co. Top left to right: Martin Hudson, Warren Silberman, David Salisbury, Carlos Salicrup, Russell Rayman, Quay Snyder, and Vivianne Fonne. Bottom left to right: Volker Damann, Joerg Siedenburg, Roland Vermeiren, David Schroeder, Tracey Dillinger, Philip Scarpa (Chair), Anthony Evans (observer), and Jarmail Singh. Members not present were Fanancy Anzalone, Kris Belland, Thomas Bettes, Gary Beven, Robert Bor, Nigel Dowdall, Sally Evans, Christopher Flynn, Christopher Front, Consuelo Gonzalez, John Hastings, Kevin Herbert, Cheng Chun Hon, Raymond King, Marvin Lange, Robin Low, Roy Marsh, Luis Humberto Martinez, Joseph McKeon, Kent McDonald, William McDonald, Stuart Mitchell, Ries Simons, Richard Tan, Claude Thibeault, and Feng Wei.
   Following a March 2012 mental incapacitation of a Jet Blue airline pilot while in flight, the Aerospace Medical Association PMHWG was formed by AsMA and chaired by Dr. Philip Scarpa to study the current status and issues related to pilot mental health. The Working Group consisted of experts in aerospace medicine and mental health. The group met several times and produced a list of recommendations to improve awareness and identification of pilot mental health issues. The recommendations were sent to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other organizations worldwide interested in medical standards, and presented in several key conferences and meetings.
   After the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in March 2015, with pilot suicide as the probable cause and extreme worldwide interest, the PMHWG re-posted its recommendations which were reported worldwide. In September 2015, the Working Group revised their recommendations. The Working Group continued to emphasize the importance of assessing and optimizing pilot mental health, while providing additional recommendations on building trust and rapport between the aeromedical examiner and the pilot, on utilizing aviation mental health and aeromedical specialists, and on the balance between medical confidentiality and risk to public safety. The Working Group encouraged all organizations involved in flight safety to review and consider implementing these recommendations within their usual operations. These recommendations were endorsed by the European Society of Aerospace Medicine, the European Association for Aviation Psychology, and the European Cockpit Association, and cited as important guidance in the Germanwings Flight 9525 mishap investigation report. As a result, medical standards are being rewritten and the recommendations put into practice by pilot health and aviation safety organizations around the world.
   Dr. Philip J. Scarpa, Jr., is the Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the NASA-Kennedy Space Center FL. He oversees all aerospace medical operations, ground systems development, biomedical research, and medical education at the spaceport. Over his career, he has supported approximately 60 Space Shuttle missions. He is also an Associate Professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX, and at the Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton, OH.
   A native of New Jersey, Dr. Scarpa obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University in 1983 and a Medical Doctorate from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1988. He also obtained a Masters of Science from the Wright State University in 1993. Originally trained in Internal Medicine, he is now board certified in Aerospace Medicine and Occupational Medicine. Dr. Scarpa has several published articles on space medicine and physiology and holds a U.S. provisional patent for a small portable device for the production of water for injection. His recent publications are in the fields of medical device testing, space radiation, and EMS support operations. He has also recently authored chapters in two books, one on space toxicology and the other on the Shuttle Columbia accident.
   A Past President of AsMA, Dr. Scarpa became a member in 1986 and a Fellow in 2002. He is also a past-President of the Space Medicine Association and the Society of NASA Flight Surgeons. He has served on several AsMA committees, been the Chair of the Arrangements Committee and of the Scientific Program Committee, and a reviewer for the AsMA journal.