Dr. Achanta Earns Young Investigator Award

Satya Achanta, DVM, PhD, DABTDuke Anesthesiology’s Satya Achanta, DVM, PhD, DABT, has received the Young Investigator Award from the Society of Toxicology, sponsored by the Association of Scientists of Indian Origin. Each year, one award is given to applicants of Indian origin who make outstanding contributions in the field of toxicology. The applicant must have 15 years or less of experience since obtaining the highest degree at the time of application.

“It is a great honor and privilege to receive this prestigious award,” says Achanta, assistant professor in anesthesiology and member of the department’s Center for Translational Pain Medicine. “The award recognizes my significant contributions to the field of transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels and medical countermeasures research in the last nine years.”

Achanta is a North Carolina state-licensed and a United States Department of Agriculture accredited category II veterinarian with extensive experience in directing research studies in small and large animal models. He is also a board-certified diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology. Achanta’s overall research interests are to protect the biologic barrier from chemical injuries by targeting TRP ion channels; and by activating the mediators of the resolution phase of the inflammation pathway to restore architecture and function. He has been associated with Dr. Sven-Eric Jordt’s Chemical Sensing, Pain and Inflammation Research Laboratory since 2012.

Stacey HiltonDr. Achanta Earns Young Investigator Award
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Duke Anesthesiology Ranks #4 in the Nation Among Specialties

Duke Anesthesiology Ranks #4 in the Nation Among SpecialtiesDuke University School of Medicine vaulted to No. 3 for research among 122 medical schools in the nation – tying its highest ranking in history – in the US News & World Report annual ranking of graduate programs released today. It was also ranked third in 2001.

The magazine’s research rankings are based on numerous indicators, including assessment by deans and residency directors (reputation), as well as faculty-student ratio, student admissions statistics such as MCAT, GPA and acceptance rates, and total federal research activity.

In addition to the research ranking, seven specialty programs in the School of Medicine placed in the top 10:

  • Surgery – second
  • Anesthesiology – fourth
  • Internal Medicine – fifth
  • Radiology – sixth
  • Pediatrics – seventh, tied
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology – eighth
  • Psychiatry – tenth

“These rankings recognize our outstanding faculty, staff and students and their unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional patient care, groundbreaking research and inspired teaching,” said Mary E. Klotman, MD, dean of Duke University School of Medicine. “I am especially proud and grateful to our entire School of Medicine community for never losing sight of our core missions during this most challenging year.”

For the first time this year, the magazine also published four new rankings to measure how medical schools are performing on key health care issues, including the diversity of graduates and how many newly trained physicians plan to practice primary care, establish practices in rural areas, and work in health professional shortage areas.

Among those new measures, Duke tied for 20th nationally among 118 medical schools for the diversity of its graduates. The ranking is based on two indicators: the number of underrepresented minority (URM) students enrolled in the school and the ratio of the school’s URM students to state and national numbers, both based on data from fall 2020. Public institutions’ URM enrollment were compared with its respective state URM percentage, and private institutions’ URM were compared with national figures.

“At Duke, we know that diversity is a key metric for excellence,” Klotman said. “Our diverse classes of students are here because they have demonstrated academic achievement, as well as noble character and the potential to be leaders and make a positive impact on our world.”

This past year, Duke’s School of Medicine has also placed highly in other national assessments, including: 

  • 3rd place among allopathic medical schools, by the Student Doctor Network;
  • 10th place for funding from the National Institutes of Health, by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research;
  • 16th place internationally among medical schools, by QS World University Rankings.

Source: Duke University School of Medicine’s Med School Blog (Durham, NC – March 30, 2021)

Stacey HiltonDuke Anesthesiology Ranks #4 in the Nation Among Specialties
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Duke Anesthesiology Ranked Among Top Five in NIH Funding

Ranked top 5 by NIH in 2020

The Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research ranks Duke Anesthesiology #5 in the nation for funding ($9.2 million) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), up three spots from last year and marking a milestone ranking for the department.

Duke University continues its leadership in biomedical research, ranking tenth among the nation’s top medical schools and research institutions for funding from the NIH. Duke received $467 million in federal funding from the NIH in 2020 and was the largest recipient of NIH grant funding in North Carolina for fiscal year 2020.

Four basic science departments and seven clinical science departments at Duke ranked among the top 10 in the country for NIH funding:

  • #2 for Orthopedics
  • #2 for Pediatrics
  • #3 for Surgery
  • #4 for Neurosurgery
  • #5 for Anesthesiology
  • #6 for Internal Medicine
  • #9 for Anatomy/Cell Biology
  • #9 for Genetics
  • #9 for Neurosciences
  • #9 for Pharmacology
  • #10 for Psychiatry

“Duke is home to many of the brightest and most innovative biomedical researchers in the world,” said Mary E. Klotman, MD, dean of the Duke University School of Medicine. “Even with the challenges that the past year placed on the global research enterprise, these rankings show that our scientists persevered and continued our long history of excellence in biomedical research.”

The NIH is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, investing more than $41 billion a year to advance research aimed at improving health.

Source: Duke University School of Medicine’s Med School Blog (Durham, NC – March 11, 2021)

Stacey HiltonDuke Anesthesiology Ranked Among Top Five in NIH Funding
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Dr. Terrando to Study the Role of the Blood-Brain Barrier

Niccolò Terrando, BSc (hons), DIC, PhDReservoir Neuroscience, Inc, has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Niccolò Terrando, PhD, an $80,143 grant to study Therapies to Protect the Blood-Brain Barrier After Surgery.” The project will evaluate the efficacy of Reservoir’s experimental compounds to protect the blood-brain barrier and prevent cognitive deficits and delirium-like behavior following orthopedic surgery. Designed as a pre-clinical academic-industry collaboration, this study has the potential to advance novel, first-in-kind treatments to improve debilitating patient outcomes in postoperative neurocognitive disorders (PND) – an unmet disease area.

Surgeries, including cardiac and orthopedic, often cause neurological complications, such as post-operative delirium and cognitive decline. These outcomes can be severely debilitating and in older adults, can create risk for onset of chronic dementia. It is not yet known how delirium and PNDs develop, or how to effectively treat this complication.

The Neuroinflammation and Cognitive Outcomes Laboratory at Duke Anesthesiology, directed by Terrando, has developed models to study the pathogenesis of postoperative delirium and strategies to combat it. In particular, the investigators have focused on the role for surgery-induced systemic inflammation in causing breakdown of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), a critical interface between the periphery and the central nervous system that regulates brain homeostasis to enable proper functioning. The BBB is often impaired in aging and neurologic disorders, such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. They have described changes in the BBB following orthopedic surgery, suggesting that opening of this barrier enables immune cells (like monocytes) and molecules (like fibrinogen) to access the brain and trigger pathological disease outcomes. This vascular pathology is especially evident in the context of neurodegeneration as they have described in a recent study published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

“The role of the blood-brain barrier in conditions like delirium is just starting to emerge. We are thrilled for this opportunity to work with Reservoir Neuroscience to test novel therapeutics that have the potential to heal the blood-brain barrier and hopefully prevent delirium,” says Terrando, associate professor in anesthesiology.

Reservoir Neuroscience, Inc, is developing new drugs to treat BBB dysfunction. These experiments are designed to provide proof-of-concept of a novel approach to improve outcomes in a rodent model of orthopedic surgery.

Stacey HiltonDr. Terrando to Study the Role of the Blood-Brain Barrier
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Dr. Ji Named CTPM Director

Ru-Rong Ji, PhDWe are pleased to announce that Ru-Rong Ji, PhD, distinguished professor of anesthesiology in the Duke University School of Medicine, has been named the director of Duke Anesthesiology’s Center for Translational Pain Medicine (CTPM). This appointment comes after Ji’s three years of service as co-director of the center, a position he served in alongside the late William “Bill” Maixner, DDS, PhD.

The CTPM launched in January of 2016, further expanding our department’s clinical and research program in innovative pain therapies by bringing together, under one umbrella, leading basic scientists, clinicians and clinical researchers with the core mission of unraveling the causes of painful conditions to improve patient care. The center recently received the rare and prestigious designation as a National Center of Excellence through an $8.5 million National Institutes of Health Program Project Grant (PPG), the first PPG in 40 years awarded to our department.

Ji joined the Duke faculty in 2012 and is one of our department’s most distinguished faculty. His research career, ultimately spanning three continents, has focused on the molecular basis of pain. His work has significant translational potential in almost all areas of pain medicine. Ji is internationally-recognized for his contributions to demonstrating critical roles of MAP kinase signaling pathways, glial cells, and neuroinflammation in the pathogenesis of chronic pain. He also serves as the director of the Sensory Plasticity and Pain Research Laboratory. Among his many accolades, Ji was awarded the prestigious 2020 American Society of Anesthesiologists Excellence in Research Award and was once again named among the most “Highly Cited Researchers” in the world – one of just 22 faculty from the Duke University School of Medicine to make the 2020 list.

Before arriving at Duke, Ji served as an associate professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He earned a PhD in neurobiology at Shanghai Institute of Physiology and completed postdoctoral training at Peking (Beijing) University Medical School, Karolinska Institute, and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Please join us in extending congratulations to Ji on his new role in our department. As we look forward to Ji advancing the mission of the CTPM, we remain deeply indebted to Dr. Maixner for his innovative vision of the center – a vision which through his extraordinary leadership and mentorship, he brought to fruition at Duke and is now internationally-recognized as a best-in-class translational pain medicine program.

Stacey HiltonDr. Ji Named CTPM Director
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