GALVESTON, Texas - The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston announced today that it has received a multi-year, $250,000 contribution from ConocoPhillips to support the expansion of the Truman G. Blocker Burn Unit.

The contribution supports a planned $6 million expansion for the burn unit that will increase the number of specialized patient beds available to eight from four. More than $5.2 million has been raised to date as part of a $10 million endeavor to augment UTMB's burn care treatment and translational research, support related educational training programs for nurses - including nurse recruitment and retention - and enhance the comfort of patients' families who spend extended periods of time in the unit. The Sealy & Smith Foundation is matching all contributions to the expansion project.

ConocoPhillips presented its first contribution to the expansion during a tour of the facility, located in UTMB's John Sealy Hospital. Named in honor of the university's first chief executive to hold the title of president and a leader in burn research and care, the Blocker Burn Unit is one of the foremost adult burn treatment facilities in the nation. It was the first to be certified as a burn center by the American College of Surgeons/American Burn Association in 1996.

The Blocker Burn Unit is the only burn center to offer a surgical critical care fellowship program approved by the Residency Review Committee of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The fellowship is managed by UTMB's Department of Surgery. More than 100 of the world's most prominent burn specialists have received their training at UTMB.

Dr. David N. Herndon, the Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Chair in burn surgery at UTMB, said ConocoPhillips' support will be pivotal in the university's ability to build upon its burn care expertise. "I'm grateful to ConocoPhillips for helping us work toward our goal of improving survival rates for the most severely burned adult patients," said Herndon, UTMB professor of surgery and chief-of-staff at Shriners Hospital for Children-Galveston. "To do that, we must expand our facilities to accommodate more patients, recruit and train burn treatment specialists, and develop an even more ambitious translational research program."

UTMB's Blocker Burn Unit has one of the highest survival rates for patients with major burn injuries of all U.S. hospitals, with a more than 50 percent survival rate for people under age 65 who have burns over 70 percent of their bodies.

UTMB President David L. Callender also thanked ConocoPhillips for recognizing the Blocker Burn Unit as a critical resource for residents and workers along the Texas Gulf Coast. "Our Blocker Burn Unit represents one of the world's leading programs for the study and care of adult burn patients, and we are grateful for ConocoPhillips' generous support of our vision to enhance the facility even more," Callender said. "I look forward to seeing the expanded Blocker Burn Unit take shape, knowing it has been made possible by the investment of such a distinguished corporate citizen."

While the Blocker Burn Unit cares for adult burn patients, UTMB collaborates with the Shriners Hospital to provide state-of-the-art treatment for children who have been severely burned. The Shriners Hospital is one of the nation's leading pediatric burn-care centers and is located next to the UTMB campus. It is staffed by the academic health center's researchers and physicians and provides care free of charge.

Collaborating with the Shriners Hospital since 1966, UTMB is regarded as a pioneer in burn treatment, research and education. The Shriners-UTMB partnership has led to numerous advances in burn care, such as pressure garments that reduce scarring, air beds that improve comfort and healing, and unique approaches to nutrition and pharmacologic support to handle burn patients' increased metabolism as their bodies consume huge stores of energy to repair wounds.

ConocoPhillips is an international, integrated energy company with interests around the world. For more information, go to