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Our Systematic Training in Anesthesia Research (STAR) Program is overseen by Brant Wagener, M.D., Ph.D.

Below are our graduates:

  • Jack Crawford, M.D., Ph.D.
    Jack Crawford, M.D., Ph.D.
    Jack Crawford, M.D., Ph.D. 

    Currrent role: Professor, Vice Chair and Director for the Division of Congenital Cardiac Anethesiology, Program Director for Pediatric Anesthesia Fellowship, Philippe Lanthrop Endowed Chair of Pediatric Cardiac Anethesia at Children's of Alabama

    STAR participant: 2007-2010 

    Mentors: Rakesh Patel, Ph.D., Jack Lancaster, Ph.D.

    Project: "Alterations of Nitric Oxide metabolism in aged red blood." 

    Dr. Jack Crawford was the first trainee to participate in the STAR program during which time he investigated the changes that occur in red blood cells during storage prior to donation. These changes in red blood cells accelerate reactions with nitric oxide and thereby alter regulation of microvascular tone following transfusion. After completing the program, Dr. Crawford joined the faculty of the UAB Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and went on to develop a new division that focuses on his primary interest, congenital heart disease. He has his own ongoing clinical research projects aimed at improving perioperative care for these patients and was awarded a Young Investigator Award by the Society for Pediatric Anesthesiology in 2015. 

    PubMed listing 

  • Brant Wagener, M.D., Ph.D.
    Brant Wagener, M.D., Ph.D.

    Brant Wagener, M.D., Ph.D

    Current Role
    : Associate Professor, Simon Gelmon Endowed Professorship, Director of Clinical Research, Director of Systematic Training in Anesthesia Research (STAR Program), Director of RMRET, Director of Medical Student Research 

    STAR Participant:

    Jean-Francois Pittet, M.D, and Sadis Matalon, Ph.D.

    "PDE4 and IL-8-dependent Inhibition of cAMP-stimulated Alveolar Fluid Clearance." 

    As a result of the protected research time during his CA-3 year, Dr. Wagener applied for and received a Research Fellowship Grant from the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER), becoming the Department's first Research Fellowship from 2013-204. Subsequently, he completed a Critical Care Fellowship from 2014-2015. As a result of this work, Dr. Wagener applied and received a second award from FAER, a Mentored Research Training Grant (2015-2017) entitled, "Mechanisms of Lung Immunosuppression after Traumatic Brain Injury." Since 2015, he has been an Assistant Professor within the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine. In 2018, he was made Director of the Resident Academic Career Development Program. His research interests involve clinical, basic, and translational research on topics such as immunosuppression after severe traumatic injury, how pneumonia causes post-ICU cognitive dysfunction, perioperative cognitive dysfunction, and coagulopathy in ICU patients. 

    Dr. Wagener was recently awarded an R01 from NIGMS entitled "The Role of Sex Dimorphism in post-TBI Bacterial Pneumonia."

    PubMed listing

  • Weifeng Song, M.D., Ph.D.
    Weifeng Song, M.D., Ph.D.

    Weifeng Song, M.D., Ph.D.

    Current Role: Assistant Professor 

    STAR participant: 2012-2015

    Mentor: Sadis Matalon, Ph.D.

    Project: "Low Molecular Weight Hyaluronan Mediated Airway Hyperresponsiveness in Aspiration Induced Acute Lung Injury." 

    Dr. Song has been actively involved in the research of the Department of Anesthesiology and Pulmonary Injury and Repair Center. While in Dr. Matalon's lab, he developed an animal model of aspiration induced acute lung injury during his CA-3 protected research year, based on which he applied for and was rewarded a Research Fellowship Grant from the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER). He finished the research fellowship in 2016 then subsequently completed a Critical Care Fellowship in 2017. Since 2017, he has been an Assistant Professor within the Divisions of Multispecialty Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine of the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine. His research interests involve translational and clinical research topics, including mechanisms of bronchospasm and pulmonary edema, treatment options of aspiration induced lung injury with high molecular weight hyaluronan in ICU patients. 

    PubMed listing

  • Mitchell Engle, M.D., Ph.D.
    Mitchell Engle, M.D., Ph.D.

    Mitchell Engle, M.D., Ph.D. 

    PubMed listing

  • Lee Goeddel, M.D., Ph.D.
    Lee Goeddel, M.D., Ph.D.

    Lee Goeddel, M.D., Ph.D., MPH 

    PubMed listing

Below are our current residents: 

  • Linda Zhang (2024 Graduate)
    Linda Zhang (2024 Graduate)

    Linda Zhang (2024 Graduate)

    Mentor: Aftab Ahmad, Ph.D.

    Project Description: Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a severe form of lung injury that can be caused by multiple etiologies. It often leads to significant mortality and morbidity due to severe inflammation and coagulopathy. However, the precise mechanisms underlying these injuries and why some patients develop ARDS are not yet fully understood. Identification of an early marker that can predict ARDS can help in providing the appropriate care needed. Previous research has demonstrated that analyzing the expression of coding and non-coding RNA species can provide valuable insights into the underlying mechanisms of different diseases. However, these studies lack reliable prognosticating markers for ARDS. Our project will isolate and characterize extracellular nucleic acids from plasma of patients with ARDS and compare expression patterns with those who do not develop ARDS. This approach, known as liquid biopsy, can potentially help us identify reliable diagnostic or prognostic markers for ARDS.
  • Jessica Schaedel (2025 Graduate)
    Jessica Schaedel (2025 Graduate)

    Jessica Schaedel (2025 Graduate)

    Mentor: Brant M. Wagener, M.D., Ph.D. 

    Project Description: Trauma-induced immunosuppression increases the risk of infection in the trauma patient population. Post-injury innate and adaptive immune dysfunction begins with a systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) that is characterized by uncontrolled release of pro-inflammatory mediators along with dysfunctional immune cell mobilization and functioning. This is very quickly followed by, or in many cases occurs simultaneously alongside, a compensatory anti-inflammatory response syndrome (CARS) that can result in weeks of immunosuppression, elevated susceptibility to infection, in some cases eventual multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS). We seek to establish risk factors for prolonged trauma-induced immunosuppression and identify therapies to attenuate its negative effects on patient outcomes.
  • Robert Hammond (2027 Graduate)
    Robert Hammond (2027 Graduate)

    Robert Hammond (2027 Graduate)

    Previous work: My previous work was focused on protein structure-function relationships of novel viral proteins. The purpose was to better understand how viral proteins, within the coronavirus family, function and determine is any conserved features are present across different beta-coronavirus lineage that can be used as therapeutic target for anti-viral drug development. We used various biochemical methods such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and x-ray crystallography (XRC) to determine the structure of each protein. The project studied protein domains from the nonstructural protein 3 (nsp3) protein that is critical to the function of the replication transcription complex (RTC) of the coronavirus life cycle. After structure determination, we utilized various biochemical analysis to characterize protein features such as binding affinity, enzymatic activity, and critical residues for protein function through mutagenesis, and protein-protein interactions that aid our understanding of the complete coronavirus life cycle. Although this work was prior to the global pandemic, our goal was to provide enough insight to develop therapies useful for the next coronavirus outbreak.

    Future Project Description: The purpose of my project it to improve the relationship patients have with anesthetics. Currently, the administration of anesthetics is beneficial to conducting surgical procedures and critical interventions that would be difficult, if not prohibitive, without the use of anesthetics. Typically amino-amide anesthetics are the more commonly used anesthetics in medicine due to their ease of use, storage, and low side effect profile. However, these compounds are prone to trigger a type I sensitivity reaction or are shown to be toxic to cardiac tissues. My project will focus on developing amino-amide compounds that have a therapeutic affinity for peripheral voltage gated calcium channels at a higher magnitude to either reduce or ablate the cardiotoxic profile. Secondly, I would plan to investigate protein-protein interactions from natural anesthetics to better understand what specific chemical interactions are most important in pain signal reduction. Lastly, I plan to investigate patient rationales for why anesthetics and anesthesia interventions cause anxiety in patients. This feedback can provide insight into patient experiences the field can used to develop and implement interventions that improve patient experiences with anesthesia.