Bruce D. Spiess

Bruce D. Spiess, 1976

B.A., Denison University
M.D., Rush University

Professor, Vice Chair, Director
VCURES Shock Center, Virginia Commonwealth University
Manakin Sabot, Va.

Citation awarded on Saturday, June 4, 2016

Bruce D. Spiess, M.D., F.A.H.A., was born in Pittsburgh to parents, both of whom were scientists, and moved to Chicago when he was nine. After graduating with a degree in biology from Denison, he attended medical school at Rush University with post-M.D. training at the Mayo Clinic, specializing in open-heart anesthesia. At Mayo, a thesis on perfluorocarbons (PFCs) led to a career in research and teaching. PFCs, which are already used in humans, are synthetic oils that dissolve oxygen up to 60 times more than human blood. His study of PFCs has led to investigating O2 transport, how blood transfusions are (mis)-utilized, other blood substitutes, hemorrhagic shock, coagulation function, critical O2 delivery, cardiac surgery, cardiopulmonary bypass, decompression sickness, and even how to escape from a disabled submarine. His work has led to lives saved in the War on Terror and has direct links to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Army Combat Casualty Command.

After his work at the Mayo Clinic, he returned to Rush (1983-90), followed by the University of Washington, Seattle (1990-99), and then Virginia Commonwealth University (1999-2016). In May 2016, Bruce moved to the University of Florida to serve as Associate Chief (Vice Chair) for Research, a Professor of Anesthesiology, Hematology, and Physiology, as well as Director of Blood Management. He has published more than 200 papers and 45 book chapters, edited seven books, appeared on the Discovery Channel, PBS specials, and CNN, and has 21 US patents either issued or pending.

Bruce lectures around the world and consults with governments on health policy, including ways to reduce human error in heart surgery. Of all his experiences, Bruce finds mentoring and teaching the most rewarding, especially his training of over 1,100 United States special operations combat medics (SOCMs), one of whom was the Seal Team Six combat medic on the Bin Laden raid.

Bruce is a recognized leader in medicine, having served as a director of multiple boards of international academic societies and industry. He has been named to the “Best Doctors in America” list for more than 15 years. Bruce is married to Heather, née Hofmann, and has two children, a stepson and a granddaughter. He is an artist, an avid fly-fisherman, sailor, world traveler, outdoorsman, and adventurer. He and Heather together own an award-winning vineyard and winery, First Colony Winery, near Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home, where the first New World wines were produced.