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USDA's Research Chemist Named Finalist in The Science, Technology and Environment  Category For Samuel J. Heyman Service To America Medal

Contact: Jessica Ryan

WASHINGTON, May 8, 2023Vincent Edwards, a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist, is being honored today as a finalist in the Science, Technology and Environment category for 2023 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal for his innovative work in developing effective new cotton-based medical gauze and dressings for trauma and chronic wound patients that are now in use by hospitals and first responders.

The awards, also known as the "Sammies," are given each year by the Partnership for Public Service to federal employees who have made a significant difference in the lives of the American people. In addition, the organization offers a People's Choice Award in which the public is encouraged to vote online, starting May 12, for the finalists it believes are worthy of additional recognition.

"Dr. Vincent Edwards' research has had a tremendous impact on the medical community," said ARS Administrator Simon Liu. "The cotton products he developed are helping men and women who serve in our armed forces, emergency medical services and hospitals across this globe."

An estimated 6 million Americans suffer from chronic wounds and 25 million from incontinence, while half of all deaths on the battlefield are caused by uncontrolled hemorrhages.

Vince Edwards looking at a computer monitor Research chemist Vincent Edwards examines a computer graphic image of an enzyme model used in the design of cotton-based chronic-wound dressings. (Photo by Peggy Greb, k10175-1 )

As a research chemist with the ARS Cotton Chemistry and Utilization Research Unit in New Orleans, Louisiana, Edwards has been a pioneer in developing improved cotton fabrics that promote the healing of chronic wounds, treat acute bleeding injuries, provide better incontinence protection, and help prevent bedsores.

One major accomplishment involved Edwards' collaboration with H&H Medical Corp. to develop a manufacturing process for his new wound gauze that produced the right blend of cotton to effectively control bleeding. The result was TACgauze, a product now used by first responders and that is being considered as a wound dressing technology for prolonged field care by the Marine Corps.

Edwards said it has been rewarding to create products that fill an unmet healthcare need while also helping boost the agricultural industry.

"I love the idea of marrying concepts at the cutting edge of wound healing science and cotton to help bring cotton into the 21st century," Edwards said. "It is inspiring when you realize that what you are developing can be useful and unique enough to also be commercial."

The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in U.S. agricultural research results in $20 of economic impact.