• Harrod appointed new Vice Chair of Research in Anesthesiology

    Environmental head shot of Dr. Kevin Harrod, PhD (Benjamin Monroe Carraway Endowed Chair and Professor, Anesthesiology; Director, Resident Research) in his office, 2019.Colleagues,

    I am delighted to announce that Kevin S. Harrod, Ph.D., will serve as the next Vice Chair of Research in the UAB Heersink School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine

    Dr. Harrod received his Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Kentucky, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in pulmonary biology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Prior to coming to UAB, he served as the director of the Infectious Diseases Program at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before being named the Benjamin Monroe Carraway, M.D., Endowed Chair and professor in our department in 2014. He is an internationally recognized expert in pulmonary infections, respiratory viruses, and host-pathogen interactions; having received a number of prestigious awards, such as the Parker B. Francis Fellowship from the Francis Family Foundation and a Career Investigator Award from the American Lung Association. 

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Harrod played a crucial leading role in research efforts in the Southeastern Biosafety Lab at UAB. As a world expert on SARS-CoV-2, he led multiple studies on the virus, including investigations into its transmission and potential treatments. His team also developed innovative methods for studying the virus, and he collaborated with other UAB researchers to establish a biorepository to collect and store COVID-19 samples for future research. Dr. Harrod's contributions to the COVID-19 research efforts have been instrumental in advancing our understanding of the virus and developing effective strategies for combating the pandemic. Indeed, he was lauded for his leadership and collaboration. 

    As we welcome Dr. Harrod, we recognize with great gratitude the transformational impact that Sadis Matalon, Ph.D., has had on our research enterprise in the department. Dr. Matalon built our research portfolio through outstanding mentorship and strategic recruitment. His relentless pursuit of excellence has propelled our research program to the top 15 in the country. Dr. Matalon will remain in the department as a distinguished endowed professor and mentor, conducting his NIH-funded research.

    Please join me in congratulating Dr. Harrod on his new role. He is committed to the ongoing integration of our clinical, basic, and translational research, as well as faculty mentorship and development. I am confident that he will lead us into a new era of exciting, diverse research within our department. 

    Dan E. Berkowitz, M.D.
    Alfred Habeeb Professor and Chair

  • Liwo co-authors a paper in conjuction with the UAB School of Public Health, Department of Biostatistics

    Amandiy Liwo, M.D., MSPH, co-authored a paper with her statistical mentor Mark Beasley, Ph.D., from the UAB School of Public Health Department of Biostatistics entitled "Generalized Collinearity Diagnostic Revisited" that was accepted by the 2023 American Educational Research Association (AERA) and will be presented.

    AERA receives more than 11,000 submissions yearly. To ensure that the highest quality papers are presented, submissions are reviewed by qualified members of a review panel constituted by the SIG Multiple Linear Regression: The General Linear Model. The paper will be presented at the 2023 conference in April in Chicago, IL, in a session titled, “GLM Paper Session: Statistical Modeling and Related Issues in the Implementation to Empirical Educational Data”.

  • Investing in the Creation of Healthcare Leaders

    Our anesthesia care team constantly invests in creating and supporting health care leaders. Recently, Amandiy Liwo, M.D., MSPH, and Jeff Simmons, M.D., MSHQS, FASA, co-mentored John North, MS4, of the UAB Heersink School of Medicinethrough project collaboration with Dale Parks, Ph.D., CMQ,Joyce Crump, DNP, MSN, MBA, N.P., R.N., CMQ, and Dave Benz, B.S., utilizing data from the Anti-Delirium Perioperative Risk Optimizing and Management Planning Tool (PROMPTs) that looked at the effects of perioperative Midazolam on perioperative delirium in the elderly. Additional collaborators included Jeff Dobyns, D.O., MSHA, MSHQS, FASA, of Southern Anesthesia Management and Mark Beasley, Ph.D.,from the UAB School of Public Health Department of Biostatistics. The final abstract was presented as a poster at the annual Medical Student Research Day on September 19, 2022, and won third place in the Surgery and Anesthesiology category. Out of three that are chosen annually for oral presentations at the Society for Perioperative Assessment and Quality Improvement (SPQAI), their abstract was selected to be presented orally at this year’s SPAQI conference on March 8-11, 2023, in Orlando, FL. The presentation also won 1st place for oral presentations at the award ceremony. 
    SPAQI conference on March 8-11, 2023, in Orlando, FL.

  • UAB Anesthesiology Achieves Membership Into Multicenter Perioperative Outcomes Group

    mpog mapThe UAB Heersink School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine has been named an active member of the Multicenter Perioperative Outcomes Group (MPOG).

    “This endeavor highlights the value that all members of the department and its affiliates serve to successfully accomplish this national honor,” says Joyce Crump, DNP, MBA, N.P., R.N., CMQ.

    Contributed to by more than 50 centers across the United States and Europe, MPOG provides access to an extensive multicenter database to advance knowledge and improve patient care. Data through MPOG can be used for research, quality initiatives, and educational purposes. From the research standpoint, it utilizes perioperative physiologic, medication, and laboratory data to conduct studies for publication in high-impact journals. The goal for quality outcomes is to improve the care of patients undergoing anesthesia by reducing unexplained variation using quality measures based on the best available evidence and current standards of care.

    “MPOG offers accurate and reliable internal and external benchmarking for quality improvement,” says Philip McArdle, M.D. “The system extracts data from perioperative electronic health records (EHR) and transforms it into a standardized format and transfers it to a central coordinating center. This approach helps eliminate variation in documentation and enhances validity of perioperative research. The central data set provides UAB access to more than 21 million cases and more than 45 billion physiologic records."

    MPOG Group PhotoBecoming a member of MPOG was a multi-year endeavor. From establishing IT software capabilities to gaining institutional and IRB approvals, extensive steps were taken to obtain detailed agreements to govern the exchange of protected health information. These efforts were followed by extensive clinical mapping and case validation. As an active site, this attention to data integrity will continue on a monthly basis.

    Led by McArdle; Dale Parks, Ph.D.; and Crump; the MPOG team had tremendous stamina to see this project through to the point of full membership. From IT experts to faculty and dedicated CRNAs, all members of this team played an integral role in its completion. Members include: Dave Benz; Kathy Brazeel, CRNA; Ayesha Bryant, MSPH, M.D.; Josh Hagood; Amandiy Liwo, M.D., MSPH; Melissa Ramsey, CRNA; Angie Surles, MNA, CRNA; Kesha Thurston, DNP, CRNA; and Brooke Vining, CRNA.

    While MPOG membership offers enhanced opportunities to use EHR data for research analytics, quality improvement, and education initiatives, MPOG members also benefit from UAB. “UAB offers a unique, highly diverse patient population,” Crump says. “We have a proven history of research excellence, and MPOG will offer new avenues of growth.”

  • Sherrer Featured in ASA Monitor

    Sherrer MattMatt Sherrer, M.D., MBA, FASA, FAACD, assistant professor in the UAB Heersink School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, was recently featured in the March 2023 edition of ASA Monitor, the official news source of the American Society of Anesthesiologists

    Click here to read "Anesthesiologists as Chief Experience Officers."

  • Kukreja Appointed Inaugural Vice Chair for Regional Anesthesia and Acute Pain Medicine

    Kukreja PromilColleagues,

    I am honored and pleased to announce that Promil Kukreja, M.D., Ph.D., CMQ, FASA, will serve as our inaugural Vice Chair for Regional Anesthesia and Acute Pain Medicine in the UAB Heersink School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine.

    Dr. Kukreja has excelled in promoting our tripartite mission in teaching, research, and clinical excellence. He is well known in the department as a consummate clinician, award-winning teacher, and highly productive clinical researcher. Prior to his new appointment, he served multiple leadership roles including director of Trauma and Acute Care Anesthesia (2021-present) and fellowship director for Regional Anesthesia and Acute Pain Medicine (2014-present). As a professor, he has received the Teacher of the Year award for the last three years and been voted as a Top 10 Teacher by our residents every year since 2009. He has also established a robust clinical research platform – leading his team to publish an unprecedented 25 articles in the last two years (uninterrupted by the stress of COVID on our clinical practice) and mentoring more than 50 residents for their senior projects, a requirement and huge satisfier for our residency program.

    At the national level, Dr. Kukreja serves as the Regional Anesthesia section editor for the Current Anesthesiology Reports journal. He is also actively involved in the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, serving on the Research committee and Carl Koller Research Grant committee.

    He joined UAB in 2009 after completing his residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin where he received the prestigious John P. Kampine Award for the best graduating resident. Prior to his residency, he completed a Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmacology at Tulane University.

    Dr. Kukreja has a vision to promote Regional Anesthesia and Acute Pain Medicine to become recognized as a top program in the nation. His goal is to integrate research and innovation into training so that residents and fellows can effectively contribute to our specialty. He is also a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in order to ensure enhanced innovation and departmental excellence.

    With a great sense of optimism, I congratulate Dr. Kukreja and ask that you join me in welcoming him to his new role.

    Dan E. Berkowitz, M.D.
    Alfred Habeeb Professor and Chair

  • Black History in Anesthesia and Emergency Medicine


    Presented by Dan Berkowitz, M.D., and Marie-Carmelle Elie, M.D., FACEP, FCCM, FAAEM, RDMS

    Among the many progressive innovations we can celebrate during Black History Month, one that stands out as having a profound and sustained impact is the contribution to the birth of modern day pre-hospital medicine. 

    At a time when pre-hospital medicine was restricted to transport without medical care, in the 1950s, members of the Black community experienced disparities in outcomes due to delays in transport to, and care in hospitals. A biracial group of community leaders approached the charismatic immigrant anesthesiologist Peter Safar, M.D., to share the concept of equipping vehicles to both transport and provide medical care for Black patients in Pittsburgh.

    Safar, who had successfully demonstrated the benefits of artificial resuscitation, spearheaded the training of members of the Black community in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and emergency treatment of patients on the streets and in ambulances enroute to hospitals.

    With the funds to purchase ambulances and the training to provide patient care, a group of largely non-college educated Black citizens established the first paramedic service, the Freedom House Ambulance Service. It was a huge success and transformed the care of a marginalized population – creating pride and dignity in the community. It would later become the blueprint for pre-hospital training for the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services.

    While a success, political pressures forced the closure Freedom House based on financial constraints – later supplanted by a much larger citywide program. 

    This is a great historical demonstration of physician and community collaboration to advance equity in our communities.

  • Wagener Appointed to Gelman Professorship


    Wagener 2015 sm crAn endowed professorship is one of the highest academic honors that a faculty member can receive. It is my pleasure to announce that Brant M. Wagener, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed to the Simon Gelman, M.D., Endowed Professorship, effective Feb. 3, 2023.

    Dr. Wagener is an Associate Professor within the Critical Care Medicine and Translational and Molecular Biomedicine divisions of the UAB Heersink School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine. He is the director of Clinical Research, the Systemic Training in Anesthesia Research Program, and the Resident Mentored Research Experience Track within the department.

    Dr. Wagener is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health for his work on traumatic brain injury and pneumonia, and collaborates with multiple investigators both inside and outside UAB. He is clinically active in both the Surgical Intensive Care Unit and the operating room, as well as resident and medical student education. He has published numerous articles on acute lung injury, bacterial pneumonia, chronic critical illness, and cognitive dysfunction among other topics in high-impact journals. His research interests involve basic, translational, and clinical research questions.

    He obtained his Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in 2009 and did a preliminary year in Internal Medicine at UNM. After completing his residency, Research Fellowship, and Critical Care Medicine Fellowship at UAB, he joined the department as an Assistant Professor in 2015.

    As we wish Dr. Wagener great future success, I would also like to recognize Timothy Ness, M.D., Ph.D., for his extensive contributions as a funded researcher. Moreover, we laud him for his outstanding mentorship and teaching while holding this professorship.

    Dan E. Berkowitz, M.D.
    Alfred Habeeb Professor and Chair

  • Blanchard Represents Department at International Meeting

    Blanchard at International ConferenceErin Blanchard, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CHSE, CMQ, led researchers from the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine who attended this year's International Meeting for Simulation in Healthcare in Orlando, Florida. While there, she presented a poster titled "Effects of Interprofessional Pain Medicine Simulation on Confidence and Knowledge Acquisition," co-authored by Peter Nagi, M.D.Alethia Sellers, M.D.; Charity Morgan, Ph.D.; and Donnie Thomas, M.D. Blanchard was given an award for Dedication and Service to the Anesthesiology Section from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH). She then presented at two workshops during the conference: Interprofessional Scenario Design: A TeamSTEPPS Framework (joined by department co-presenter Andrea Hammett, MSN, R.N., NPD-BC) and All the Faculty are Doing It! Blanchard also moderated the panel for SSH Anesthesia Section's presentation for Addressing Safety Through Simulation and presented at the section meeting. 

    Erin Blanchard

    Thank you to Dr. Blanchard and her collegues for representing the department so well on an international stage!

  • UAB Winter Course 2023

    Thank you to the UAB Heersink School of Medicine faculty, Prentiss Lawson, M.D., Tom Moore, M.D., Matt Sherrer, M.D., MBA, FASA, and Mark Trankina, M.D., who presented excellent talks at the Annual UAB Winter Anesthesiology and Acute Care of the Surgical Patient Conference.  They represented UAB well in a conference with speakers from Mayo Clinic, University of Florida, Mass General, University of Tennessee, and Yale.

    Vail Staff Shoutout 2 7 23 1

  • Inspiring and Reflecting: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy on Alethia Sellers

    Drawing Inspiration from a Legacy

    In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, we sat down with Alethia Sellers, M.D., C.M.Q., to discuss what it is like to be an African American in medicine. 

    Sellers at MarchAlethia Sellers, M.D., C.M.Q., Associate Professor at the UAB Heersink School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, has a life and career shaped by extraordinary African Americans. She was born and raised in Birmingham, AL, by her parents. Her grandfather, Reverend Abraham Woods, Jr, was president of the Birmingham chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) where he would lead community marches. He is most famously known for working alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK), Fred Shuttlesworth, and other pivotal civil rights leaders to coordinate the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Woods even stood behind MLK as he delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Her mother, aunts, and cousins participated in children’s marches leading to their eventual arrest and jailing for a week. 

    “Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for her and other foot soldiers who were arrested, beaten, and even killed so that I can receive the education that I do, go to the shops I support, work where I do, and even live in the neighborhood I reside in today,” Sellers says.

    Provided with shadowing opportunities and exposure to African American physician leaders, Sellers attributes her uncle, an African-American urologist, and Tony Jones, M.D., former department Chair, as examples of what it means to be a talented physician. She also attributes a great deal of her success to leaders who were not of similar background yet were critical in her success by sending opportunities her way. Sellers hopes to set an example for her younger brother,a surgery resident at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “As an African American physician, I know that I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors who helped pave the way so that I can break the stereotype of what a good doctor looks like,” she says. 

    On the eve of MLK’s birthday, Sellers reminisces on how far African Americans have come. Because she grew up with civil rights giants and foot soldiers as her honorary family members; the civil rights movement’s legacy was instilled in her at a young age, and it is a legacy she carries with her to this day.

    Leading By Advocacy

    Alethia Sellers sqcrIn the last decade, data shows that the number of African American physicians has not increased. “I think it is important to increase this number so there are more mentors to support African Americans looking into working in the medical field,” Sellers says. “Pipeline programs where young children can get exposure to all professionals, including physicians who look like them, will allow them to dream even bigger than they may have if not given that exposure of what was possible.”

    In recent years, there has been a pointed movement to shed light on disparities present in health care. In addition to the movement to improve patient care, academic medical communities have been actively working toward advocating and enforcing the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Current department Chair, Dan Berkowitz, M.D., established the department’s Diversity Council in 2019 to address and improve DEI efforts. The council, which Sellers has been a member of since its inception, has made recommendations for improved inclusion at all levels – from trainees to faculty and staff.

    The council actively works with the departmental recruitment team to push forward inclusion efforts, such as establishing a diversity statement and including interview questions related to inclusion. In 2022, the Diversity Council hosted a welcome social for Underrepresented in Medicine (URiM) trainees. Sellers has also worked alongside colleagues to advocate for increasing professional development and promotional opportunities, and developing a process to ensure pay equity. Additionally, the Diversity Council is currently creating a climate survey to ensure that these efforts are ongoing.

    Sellers has faced both conscious and unconscious bias; having a patient refuse to accept care because of the color of her skin and facing insensitive comments from colleagues. She inspires the next generation of African American physicians by emphasizing the importance of having a great mentor. She says that there will be setbacks and medicine still has a way to go, but she is “inspired to be the best physician [she] can be for those who may have been treated unfairly because of the way they look, their socioeconomic status, and all others who have been marginalized.”

  • UAB Leads Research Uncovering Potential Target for Treatment of Chronic Pain-Induced Mood Disorders

    Lingyong Li PhD2Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine have uncovered a pathophysiological mechanism of chronic pain-induced depression and provided a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of chronic pain-induced mood disorders.

    Chronic pain often leads to depression, increasing patient suffering and worsening prognosis; but the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying comorbid depressive symptoms in chronic pain remain unclear. A team led by Lingyong Li, Ph.D., associate professor at the Heersink Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, and Kimberley Tolias, Ph.D., professor at the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Neuroscience, demonstrated that Tiam1 – a Rac1 guanine nucleotide exchange factor that promotes dendrite, spine, and synapse development during brain development – orchestrates synaptic structural and functional plasticity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) neurons, which underpins ACC hyperactivity and drives chronic pain-induced depressive-like behaviors. The work appears in a recent article in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, TIAM1-mediated synaptic plasticity underlies comorbid depression–like and ketamine antidepressant–like actions in chronic pain.

    “Not only is this a fascinating paper, but it also has tremendous clinical implications for chronic pain and mental health,” says Dan E. Berkowitz, M.D., Alfred Habeeb Professor and Chair in the Heersink Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine.

    Li article review quoteKetamine is an NMDAR antagonist emerging as a promising treatment for chronic pain and depression. Low, subanalgesic doses of ketamine can produce rapid, long-lasting antidepressant-like effects in patients and animal models. However, the underlying mechanisms of ketamine’s antidepressant effects have not been fully elucidated. The team’s research also revealed that ketamine induces sustained antidepressant-like effects in mouse models of chronic pain by blocking Tiam1-mediated maladaptive synaptic plasticity in ACC neurons.

    “We used a powerful array of technical approaches to address ACC Tiam1-mediated synaptic plasticity as a novel pathophysiological mechanism of chronic pain-induced depression, such as the effective use of complementary approaches combing Tiam1-floxed mice, transgenic Cre line, viral vectors, and a pharmacological inhibitor of Tiam1 signaling to determine the functional role of ACC Tiam1 in chronic pain-induced depressive-like behaviors, and to determine Tiam1’s coordination on synaptic structural and functional plasticity in ACC from different angles, including dendritic spine morphometry, actin polymerization, synaptic NMDAR subunit protein levels, and electrophysiological recordings,” Li says.

    “I am excited because our work demonstrates the critical role Tiam1 plays in the pathophysiology of chronic pain-induced mood dysregulation and the sustained antidepressant-like effects of ketamine, revealing it as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of comorbid mood disorders in chronic pain,” Li says. “Indeed, pharmacological inhibiting Tiam1 activity with NSC23766 alleviates chronic pain-induced depressive-like behaviors and synaptic remodeling in mouse models of chronic pain.”

    Li article illustration2

    Note: Support for the research came from the US Department of Defense (W81XWH-20-10790 and W81XWH-21-10742), the Mission Connect/TIRR Foundation (020-122), and the US National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (R01 NS062829).

  • Welcoming Dr. Li!

    Please join us in welcoming Lingyong Li, Ph.D., to the UAB Heersink School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine as an Associate Professor. Dr. Li joins our department
    from Baylor UnivLi Headshotersity where he served as an Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator.

    Li’s research interests include chronic pain, comorbid psychiatric disorders in chronic pain, and opioid analgesic tolerance. Li brings several R01 grants and will be the Principal Investigator of the Li Lab here at UAB. The Li Lab will focus on synaptic and neural mechanisms of chronic pain, chronic pain-induced psychiatric disorders, opioid analgesic tolerance, and translational studies in chronic pain management.

    We are excited to welcome Dr. Li to our team!


  • Sickbay: Improving Patient Care Through Customized Data

    Melvin 1If you’re in the UAB Heersink Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, you’ve probably heard about the platform called Sickbay; a high-resolution device integration used for data capture and analysis.

    Indeed, it is unique in its ability to chart and record – in a timely, synchronized fashion – any and all physiologic variables from our operating rooms’ (OR) critical care monitors and machines at high frequency. But what can we do with it?

    “Sickbay allows us to not only capture signals that would otherwise be lost after being shown on a monitor, but also create new knowledge from those signals,” says Principal Data Scientist Ryan Melvin, Ph.D. “Our prime examples are calculating optimal blood pressure by estimating a patient’s ability to autoregulation cerebral blood flow, which we published recently, and estimating vascular stiffness via pulse arrival time, on which Ryan Godwin, Ph.D., from the Data Science team is working closely with Andre Gosling, M.D., and Dan Berkowitz, MB BCh.”

    Currently, our department uses Sickbay exclusively in the Cardiovascular Operating Room (CVOR) and Neurological Intensive Care Unit (NICU). In the CVOR, it can be used for research purposes. While in the NICU, Sickbay can be used for remote monitoring and research.

    As one example of research in the CVOR – championed by Domagoj Mladinov, M.D., Ph.D., and Berkowitz – we’re using the platform to analyze high-resolution near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and arterial blood pressure (ABP) (at 120Hz) signals to estimate patients’ lower limits of cerebral autoregulation. That is, we want to identify the optimal blood pressure for each individual patient (precision medicine and goal-directed therapy) rather than targeting blood pressure based on commonly accepted population-based standards.

    Similarly, for NICU patients with intracranial pressure monitoring (ICP), we can calculate optimal blood pressure from a combination of ABP and ICP signals. Both interventions have a goal of improving brain perfusion by individualizing blood pressure and other therapies.

    In the NICU, the platform is available for remote monitoring such as gas monitoring (example: respiratory rate), ECG signals, hemodynamics (example: arterial blood pressure), temperature, and CNS monitoring (example: EEG). It can also provide continuous up-to-the-minute information trends from a patient’s entire (monitored) stay.

    Sickbay has endless capabilities and allows our physicians to use retrospective data to create risk calculators that can be viewed from anywhere you can access the internet – a highly efficient and future-thinking approach to patient care.

    Sickbay 1

    Find out more from the research behind Sickbay.

    Intraoperative utilisation of high-resolution data forcerebral autoregulation: a feasibility study.
    RL Melvin, JR Abella, R Patel, JM Hagood, DE Berkowitz, D Mladinov
    British Journal of Anesthesia
    128 (3), e217-e219

    For more information about the Data Science team and future projects, visit go.uab.edu/anesdatascience1.

  • Matalon: Leading Research, Building Community, and Shaping the Future of Anesthesia

    Matalon 1Sadis Matalon, Ph.D., Dr.Sc. (Hon.), FAPS, Distinguished Professor, Alice McNeal Chair in Anesthesiology, Director of the UAB Pulmonary Injury and Repair Center, and Vice Chair for Research, is no stranger to
    receiving recognition for his outstanding achievements. In 2021, he was elected Corresponding Member to the Academy of Athens (the National Academy of Athens) – a coveted recognition by scientists. He has also been selected for the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Division of Terrorism and Inhalation Disasters for the American Thoracic Society.

    “Dr. Matalon is a world-renowned physiologist whose research has touched countless lives,” says Dan Berkowitz, MB BCh, Alfred Habeeb Professor and Chair of the UAB Heersink Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine. “He continues to be a dedicated and eager leader for our department and the UAB community.”

    Advancing Research Through Collaboration

    As a founder of the UAB Pulmonary Injury and Repair Center, Matalon stresses the importance of centers for academia. Currently, the Matalon lab is focusing on identifying the mechanisms by which halogens (such as chlorine) damage the cardiorespiratory system of animals and developing countermeasures; which, when administered post exposure, decrease the onset of acute and chronic lung injury. He serves as the Principal Investigator of a R21 as well as co-investigator in various grants funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a subcontract from the University of Pennsylvania funded by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

    His reach goes beyond just the UAB community: He currently serves as editor-in-chief for Physiological Reviews – the most cited journal in the field of physiology and among the 50 most cited peer-reviewed journals – where he helps shape the field of science and hopes to continue leading the journal down a path of excellence in physiological and biomedical sciences.

    Matalon boasts the department has three editors-in-chief (EIC). Jean-Francois Pittet, M.D., serves as EIC of Anesthesia and Analgesia, a highly prestigious clinical journal in the field of anesthesiology. Jianguo Gu, M.B., Ph.D., serves as EIC of Molecular Pain, which publishes authoritative articles on the mechanisms of pain. In 2021, the department had a total of 90 publications, and Matalon has been a leader and mentor for several of these publications.

    Recently, he has worked alongside Aftab Ahmad, Ph.D., Shama Ahmad, Ph.D., Saurabh Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., Ahmed Lazrak, Ph.D., Tamas Jilling, M.D., Dylan Addis, M.D., Ammar (Saadoon) Alishlash, M.D., Gu, James Mobley, Ph.D., and other faculty to facilitate the research mission of the department’s Division of Molecular and Translational Biomedicine, which he directs. Thanks to the hard work of the faculty of this division, the department is No. 14 among other anesthesia departments funded by the NIH, and Matalon’s goal is to break into the top 10.

    These valuable collaborations allow for the creation of strong, focused research centers giving way for teamwork, innovation, and discovery. Matalon believes that building a stronger infrastructure, encouraging teamwork, and reinforcing the robust UAB community is key to future-proofing the department. “Being vice chair has taught me to be humble, work effectively with others, learn from the knowledge base of others, and appreciate new technology,” he says.

    What's Next?

    This year has been quite monumental for Matalon, and we have to wonder what is next. For starters, he is enthusiastic about continuing to pursue his research, mentoring, and leading in the department. Currently, the competitive renewal of his R01, which has been funded for 28 years, was favorably reviewed by the NIH and will be funded for 4-5 years beginning in October 2022. He also is working with a Canadian Biodefense company to develop recombinant proteins for the treatment of chemically induced acute and chronic lung injury. In addition, he is mentoring three young faculty members.

    “What we are doing – it’s like the space program. In the process of getting to the moon, we developed technologies that could be used in a lot of other ways. The agents we developed can be used to treat a number of other diseases,” Matalon says. “Science is not a lone wolf telling people what to do; science is a group of people that work effectively together with complimentary expertise, willing to learn from each other. This is what drives me.”

  • Challenge Accepted: ACTOC Strives to Better Our Anesthesia Care Teams

    Sherrer and Thurston 1Communication is key to excellent patient care. If lines of communication break down, it takes hard work and determination to rectify the issues and mend professional relationships. Such was the case among our anesthesia care teams; and when the issues were identified, members of our department and a devoted group of CRNAs sprang into action creating the Anesthesia Care Team Optimization Committee (ACTOC) in 2019.

    “The relationship between our anesthesiologists and CRNAs was really bad. It was a really cold relationship,” says Matt Sherrer, M.D., MBA, FASA, FAACD. “But because we were honest enough to admit there was a problem, and because we cared enough to fix it, we were able to come together through ACTOC and make real improvements.”

    Under the guidance of Martha Anne Rich, Ph.D., a consulting psychologist, ACTOC set out in 2021 with the goal of creating taskforces to focus on areas to address and make changes to that were both attainable and sustainable. From this plan, the teamwork, education, clinical, and scholarship taskforces were formed.

    “ACTOC has become a space where we safely explore our anesthesia care teams in a group that has strong trust, professional respect, and friendship,” says Stacy Wade, M.D., ACTOC member. “The taskforces are built to encourage this mindset and provide fulfilling clinical engagement opportunities.”

    The teamwork taskforce – led by Sherrer and Andy Morris, BSN, MSN, CRNA – set out to create socialization opportunities between physician and CRNA colleagues. These are playing out in many scenarios, including journal clubs to discuss academic articles and simple Q&A sessions between care team members who don’t know each other. “This doesn’t have to be a tremendously complicated or academic exercise. Let’s sit and talk and get to know each other,” Sherrer says. “It doesn’t take long to find out that we work with some really amazing people.”

    Collaboration sets the tone for the education taskforce. “The ability to partner with anesthesiologists on the front end will lead to lasting changes on the back end,” says Kesha Thurston, DNP, CRNA. “It will improve processes for our patients and create a stronger anesthesia team.” This group, led by Paul Piennette, M.D., and Thurston, is looking forward to holding joint journal clubs with the teamwork taskforce and integrating CRNAs into the department’s Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) conferences. They are also working with the UAB Office of Interprofessional Simulation for Innovative Clinical Practice to begin PIV/arterial line simulation.

    Wakefield and Conway 1Perry Smith, M.D., and Gary Boutwell, DNP, CRNA, lead the clinical taskforce. Their team has begun to address communication deficits that affect an anesthesia care team’s performance in patient safety as well as job satisfaction. “We have a great opportunity to optimize how anesthesia care is delivered by UAB Medicine,” Boutwell says. “We have an even greater opportunity to be the national standard for collegiality and professionalism by sharing our work through the physicians and healthcare providers who will eventually move on to other healthcare centers and communities.” In addition, the taskforce is creating a standardized checklist for the operating room, identifying what must be discussed preoperatively, intraoperatively, and early postoperatively by members of the care team.

    The scholarship taskforce rounds out the teams and is led by Dan Berkowitz, MB BCh, and Melissa Ramsey, CRNA. Early on, this taskforce spent time researching and discussing what value it could bring to ACTOC. They determined it would be most beneficial to document the ACTOC process “in hopes of publishing the accomplishments of all of the ACTOC taskforces to improve relations amongst other anesthesia care teams throughout the country,” Ramsey says.

    In a short amount of time, ACTOC has begun positioning the department and our care teams to be among the best in the nation – setting high standards for other academic medical centers to learn from and replicate. “Realizing that we all have the same goals and motivations – a fulfilling work environment where we take great care of our patients and maximize each team member’s potential – really reframed my perspective,” Sherrer says. “I would hope that we all learn to focus far less on ‘me’ and far more on ‘we’.”

  • New Leadership in Critical Care Medicine Fellowship Program

    gohar emailColleagues,

    Effective Oct. 1, 2022, Andrew Barker, M.D., associate professor in the UAB Heersink School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, is stepping down from the position of program director of the department’s Critical Care Medicine Fellowship Program to focus on other aspects of academic medicine. These endeavors include his role as medical director for the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. He will assist with the transition of the program director role and act as a mentor for the new director. 

    Dr. Barker has been a valued part of this department since he started as a critical care medicine fellow in July 2013. His interest in education was quite apparent from the start of his appointment to our faculty in July 2014. He has performed all of the functions of program director for the fellowship since 2016, and he assumed the official title in 2018. Under his direction, the fellowship has seen a great number of triumphs and graduated a significant number of successful critical care physicians of whom we are very proud. 

    After the completion of an inclusive and transparent search process, it gives us great pleasure to announce that Moheb Gohar, M.D., has been selected as the new program director for the Critical Care Medicine Fellowship Program. Dr. Gohar was born and raised in the small city of Assuit, Egypt, where he completed and earned his medical degree from Assuit University. Upon relocating to the United States, he completed an anesthesiology residency at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. He also completed a dual fellowship in both adult cardiothoracic anesthesia and critical care medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. He joined the UAB faculty in 2021, following the completion of his training. His academic interests include transesophageal echocardiography, mechanical circulatory support, and medical education and mentorship.

    Since joining the UAB faculty, Dr. Gohar has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the tripartite mission of the Heersink School of Medicine, excelling in teaching and service. He has also expressed a compelling vision for the future of the fellowship program. Additionally, in a short period of time, he has earned the respect of residents, fellows, nursing staff, peers, and the leadership of our department. 

    Please join us in welcoming Dr. Gohar to this important educational leadership position as we seek to continue excellence in our training programs, producing the finest graduates possible in critical care medicine. 

    Dan E. Berkowitz, M.D.
    Alfred Habeeb Professor and Chair

    David Miller, M.D.
    Vice Chair and Director, Division of Critical Care Medicine

  • Farewell To Our 2022 Graduates

    Grad photoCongratulations to our CA-3’s that graduated in June. The department gathered on June 10th to celebrate at B & A Warehouse. On June 30th, the class of 2022 completed their last day. We appreciate all of your hard work and dedication over the past several years and we cannot wait to see what all you accomplish!


  • Wagener Appointed to Lead Resident Research Track

    Wagener 2015 sm crThe following is a message from Susan Black, M.D.

    Effective July 1, 2022, Brant Wagener, M.D., Ph.D., assumed the responsibility of leading the Resident Mentored Research Experience Track (RMRET) in the UAB Heersink School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine.

    Dr. Wagener is well-suited for this role. He has been heavily invested in research at UAB since he joined the department as a resident in 2009. Following his residency, he completed fellowships in Critical Care and Research (both at UAB) before joining our faculty. Currently, Dr. Wagener also serves as director of Clinical Research and director for the Systematic Training in Anesthesia Research (STAR) Program. He is actively involved in numerous research projects supported by multiple external grants and has served as a mentor for many trainees in research activities.

    Dr. Wagener is taking over for Mark Powell, M.D., who served very effectively in this role prior to leaving UAB to pursue a Pediatric Anesthesiology Fellowship.

    Please join me in congratulating Dr. Wagener in this new role and for his continued dedication to anesthesia research.

  • Research Day 2022

    Research Day 2022


    Thank you to everyone who attended the UAB Heersink School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine’s second annual Research Day on Monday, May 9, 2022. Congratulations to the following abstract award winners:

    • Best Resident Abstract: Andrew Moss, M.D., for “Sugammadex versus neostigmine for routine reversal of neuromuscular blockade: a retrospective analysis of the effect on perioperative efficiency"
    • Best Non-Resident Abstract: Erin Yepsen for “Influenza A virus increases susceptibility to Streptococcus pneumoniae by acidifying the airway surface liquid" 

    Congratulations are also in order for the following winners, based on outstanding poster presentations:

    • Resident 1st Runner Up: Damien Knudson, M.D., for “UAB code blue data and reliability of emergency suction equipment"
    • Resident 2nd Runner Up: Sanjin Tankovic, M.D., for “Secondary infections and clinical outcomes in patients with COVID-19 infection at UABMC"
    • Non-Resident 1st Runner Up: Salvador Lopez for “Optogenetic stimulation produces afferent-driven urinary bladder detrusor contractions and voiding in a murine model of spinal cord injury”
    • Non-resident 2nd Runner Up: Spring Li for “Regulation of matrix protein expression in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis”