Aroke is AANA Researcher of the Year

Honored with 2021 American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Foundation’s John F. Garde Researcher of the Year Award

Photo: Edwin Aroke University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing Assistant Professor Edwin Aroke, PhD, CRNA, has been named the 2021 John F. Garde Researcher of the Year by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) Foundation.

This annual award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the practice of anesthesia through research. Award recipients are nominated by their peers in AANA and selected by the AANA Foundation Professional Development Committee and the AANA Foundation Board of Trustees.

Aroke’s research focuses on pain disparities and the role of epigenetics in pain. Through this research, Aroke said he aims to help ground CRNAs by recognizing the role CRNAs play in pain management, potential disparities, and understanding the underlying mechanisms of pain.

“It’s one thing to say Black people experience pain differently than White people, but it is completely different to ask and research why racial disparities take place or exist,” Aroke said. “Especially since race is such an arbitrary concept. Through this research, we can look at lived experiences, and how those experiences literally enter the body through epigenetics, and more.”

For Aroke, receiving the award was humbling and an honor, especially after a year that took research discussions from in-person to virtual, moved conferences online, and more.

“Receiving this award was a combination of excitement and disbelief. It was great to see, ‘Oh wow, someone recognized that I am making a contribution through my research,’ and it was humbling, especially coming off of 2020 where we have all had struggles,” Aroke said.

The award also recognized hard work, and the pieces of the puzzle coming together in Aroke’s research in three interrelated areas: anesthesia/pain, health disparities, and omics sciences.

Aroke joined the UAB School of Nursing in 2017 after finishing his doctoral program, and clinically, the significant racial disparities in chronic pain became more apparent to him.

“You spend a considerable amount of time in the lab thinking, reading about the problem, and generating a hypothesis, there’s always a chance your hunch might not come true”. Aroke said. “2020 represented that point in time where my hypothesis and what I had been working on came to fruition.”

His early research was supported by multiple grants in the past several years, including a $50,000 grant from the UAB Obesity Health Disparities Research Center, which focuses on the relationship between obesity and pain in African Americans, and an $8,100 UAB Faculty Development Grant to gather preliminary data on how CRNAs make pain management decisions.

Aroke has disseminated his work in 28 peer-review publications and various national and international conferences.

Read 1072 times Last modified on September 30, 2021

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