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New Orleans, LA – Keith Van Meter, MD, Professor and Chief of Emergency Medicine at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine, is the 2009 recipient of the Albert R. Behnke Award, the premier award of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society. The award is presented to an individual in recognition of outstanding scientific contributions to advances in the undersea or hyperbaric biomedical field. The award may be made for a single contribution of great importance or for many contributions over the years. This award may not be presented in any given year if the Awards Committee decides that there is not a suitable recipient. Dr. Van Meter is the eighth recipient in the past nine years.

The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) is an international, non-profit organization serving over 2,000 members from more than 50 countries. The UHMS is the primary source of scientific information for diving and hyperbaric medicine physiology worldwide.

The award is named for the late Dr. Albert T. Behnke, an American physician and Captain in the US Navy who was principally responsible for developing the U.S. Naval Medical Research Institute. Dr. Behnke separated the symptoms of Arterial Gas Embolism (AGE) from those of decompression sickness and suggested the use of oxygen in recompression therapy. He is also known as the "modern-day father" of human body composition for his work in developing the hydrodensitometry method of measuring body density, his standard man and woman models, as well as a somatogram based on anthropometric measurements. He served on the first Board of Advisors for the National Association of Underwater Instructors and taught medical aspects of diving at their first Instructor Candidate Course that started in 1960 in Houston. He also designed the Bends Prevention and Safety Program in 1964 for crews working in underground caissons to build the Bay Area Rapid Transit system.

Keith Van Meter, MD, completed his undergraduate education at Miami University at Oxford, Ohio in 1968 with a degree in chemistry and English. He graduated from George Washington University School of Medicine in 1973 with a degree in medicine, and trained at Charity Hospital. He is board certified in Emergency Medicine with subspecialty board certification in Pediatric Emergency Medicine and Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine.

From 1989 to the present, Dr. Van Meter has served as the Chief of the Section of Emergency Medicine in the Department of Medicine at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine. He actively works in the Emergency Department and Hyperbaric Medicine and Wound Care Unit at Interim LSU Public Hospital, providing direct patient care and supervision of medical students, residents, and fellows in training.

Dr. Van Meter is also the Medical Director of a 140-physician Emergency Medicine group in south Louisiana and Mississippi (Keith Van Meter & Associates). He has served as the Medical Director of the West Jefferson Medical Center multiplace Hyperbaric Medicine Unit and Wound Care Center since 2002. He has been the Medical Director of the Baromedical Research Institute Hyperbaric Laboratory in New Orleans, Louisiana since 1980.

Dr. Van Meter’s primary research interest is the application of hyperbaric oxygen in the ACLS, PALS and ATLS in cardiopulmonary arrest utilizing a swine model, and he is widely published on trauma and hyperbaric medicine.

In his private practice, Dr. Van Meter has treated more than 600 commercial divers in the Gulf of Mexico who suffered from acute decompression sickness or arterial gas embolism.

He is currently an instructor in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Life Support, Advanced Trauma Life Support, and has taught a number of physician diving courses. Dr. Van Meter has served as Affiliate/Regional faculty for the American Heart Association for 25 years.

Dr. Van Meter is a member of the Advisory Editorial Board of the journal, Wounds, the Executive Board of the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology and the Hyperbaric Oxygen Committee of the UHMS.


LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans educates the majority of Louisiana's health care professionals.  The state's academic health leader, LSUHSC comprises a School of Medicine, the state's only School of Dentistry, Louisiana's only public School of Public Health, Schools of Allied Health Professions and Graduate Studies, as well as the only School of Nursing in Louisiana within an academic health center. LSUHSC faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout Louisiana. In the vanguard of biosciences research in a number of areas worldwide, LSUHSC faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, treat, or cure disease. LSUHSC outreach programs span the state.

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