2023 Jimmy A. Young Medal Recipient

 Published: November 16, 2023

By: Debbie Bunch



AARC Presented the 2023 Jimmy A. Young Medal to Rich Kallet, MS, RRT, FAARC, at the AARC Congress in Nashville

The Jimmy A. Young Medal recognizes individuals who have an outstanding record of contributions to the AARC vision of professional excellence, advancement of the science and practice of respiratory care, and service as an advocate for patients, their families, the public, the profession, and the respiratory therapist that are well above the usual commitment of time, efforts, or material goods. It is the highest honor bestowed by the AARC and is named in honor of AARC President Jimmy A. Young, who died in 1975 after serving the organization for many years.

Richard Kallet, MS, RRT, FAARC, fits that bill to a tee. A leading researcher in the field for more that 40 years, he is widely credited with helping to bring numerous advances in care to the bedsides of critically ill patients.

Moving up the ranks

Kallet first got involved in respiratory therapy back in the mid-1970s when he went to work as an equipment technician at the State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. He received his bachelor’s degree in cardio-respiratory sciences from SUNY in 1980.

After serving as a staff therapist at hospitals in New York and then California, Kallet accepted a position at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) General Hospital, where his interest in respiratory care research began to flourish. He earned his master’s degree in health sciences from UCSF in 1996, and by 1997 had taken on a role as clinical research coordinator for the Trauma Lung Injury Research Group.

He was named supervisor of research and education for respiratory care services in 1999 and director of clinical research for the San Francisco Injury Center in 2007.

Kallet became director of research and quality assurance for the critical care division in 2007 as well, and in 2010 was named director of quality assurance and clinical research for respiratory care services, a title he held until his retirement in 2018.

Playing a key role in ARDSnet

Perhaps his most lasting accomplishment in the research arena, though, came in 1996 when he took on the job of lead research coordinator at UCSF for the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Clinical Trials Network (ARDSnet), a multicenter group funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to efficiently test promising agents, devices, or management strategies to improve the care of patients with ARDS.

During the two decades that the ARDSnet consortium conducted clinical trials sponsored by NIH, Kallet was the lead research coordinator not only at UCSF but for the ARDSnet group as a whole. He was instrumental in standardizing measures of ventilator parameters and consistent data collection.

This led in part to his paper in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrating that outcomes in ARDS could be predicted by increasing VD/VT.

Kallet’s contributions to the ARDSnet are well documented by the numerous articles he has authored, all of which have been lauded by members of medical school faculties and other leading researchers in critical care medicine.

The ARDSnet findings have, without question, resulted in thousands of lives saved over the past 20 years and that accomplishment is, in part, due to the work of Richard Kallet. He summarized his work with the ARDS Network in the 24th Phil Kittredge Memorial Lecture at the AARC International Respiratory Congress in Anaheim, CA, in 2008.

He published an article based on that lecture in the July 2009 edition of Respiratory Care, emphasizing the importance of having RT participation in ARDSnet to the profession.

“The respiratory care profession itself has benefited, owing both to its critical role in the successful implementation of complicated therapist-driven protocols and also to the ARDS Network’s novel practice of utilizing respiratory therapists as clinical coordinators,” he wrote. “This has raised the profile and enhanced the stature of the respiratory care profession.”

A busy retirement

While Kallet retired from his position at UCSF as director of quality assurance and clinical research in 2018, he did not retire from the scientific study of respiratory treatments and conditions. He has continued to work with teams at UCSF to produce published papers on critical care topics in respiratory care, including several on COVID-19 that added to the evidence on how to treat the virus during the pandemic.

Kallet’s publications record is considerable and distinguished. He has published over 130 peer-review articles. These include not only papers in Respiratory Care, but also the New England Journal of Medicine (6 papers!), American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Chest, Critical Care Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Medicine, and others.

He has also continued to serve as a member of the Respiratory Care Editorial Board, a position he’s held since 2001 — a tenure that included a seven-year stint as associate editor. Kallet was a consulting editor for the 10th, 11th, and 12th editions of Egan’s Fundamentals of Respiratory Care as well, and a guest editor of Respiratory Care Clinics of North America’s acute respiratory distress syndrome issue in 2003.

Kallet has been an invited lecturer at meetings around the world, and spoken at many of the AARC International Respiratory Congresses held over the past few decades. In 2021, he delivered the inaugural Robert M. Kacmarek Scientific Memorial Lecture, addressing mechanical ventilation for patients with ARDS.

The Association and the profession benefited greatly from his expertise during the pandemic through his service on the AARC’s Guidance Panel for the Respiratory Management of COVID-19. The group worked tirelessly from March of 2020 to March of 2022 to provide much needed support to RTs in the field, and Kallet was instrumental in writing the AARC’s COVID-19 Guide, which was published in 2022 to inform RTs and others of best practices in the treatment of patients who were severely ill with the virus.

The number of awards won by Richard Kallet over his long career are too numerous to list here, but chief among them are the Forrest M. Bird Lifetime Achievement Award, the Jeri Eiserman Professional Education Research Award, and the Draeger-Shreyas Roy Literary Award.

A lasting legacy

Along the way, Kallet has paid it forward too, by mentoring a number of young researchers at UCSF. It is a practice he has continued into his retirement, sometimes bringing half a dozen novice investigators or more along with him to the AARC Congress to present their findings during the Open Forum.

Richard Kallet leaves a lasting legacy to the respiratory care profession that will resonate throughout the coming decades, and his commitment to the next generation of respiratory care researchers will help to ensure therapists continue to produce the kind of studies that RTs can apply at the bedside as they care for their patients.

The AARC was proud to honor Richard Kallet with its 2023 Jimmy A. Young Medal at last week’s AARC Congress in Nashville.

Email newsroom@aarc.org with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Debbie Bunch

Debbie Bunch is an AARC contributor who writes feature articles, news stories, and other content for Newsroom, the AARC website, and associated emailed newsletters. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, photography, and spending time with her children and grandchildren. Connect with Debbie by email or on AARConnect or LinkedIn.

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