Dr. Ji Named a Highly Cited Researcher

Ru-Rong Ji, PhDDuke Anesthesiology’s Ru-Rong Ji, PhD, distinguished professor of anesthesiology, has once again been named among the most “Highly Cited Researchers” in the world. Ji is one of 38 Duke scientists named to the 2021 list. These pioneers in their fields represent the most influential researchers who have published multiple papers frequently cited by their peers that rank in the top one percent of citations for field and year in the Web of Science.

The list is produced each year by Clarivate, who run the Institute for Scientific Information. In all, the 2021 list includes 6,602 researchers from more than 70 countries.

Ji was one of 37 Duke faculty who made the global list of “Highly Cited Researchers” in 2020; a list he also made in 2019 and 2018. His research focuses on molecular and cellular mechanisms of chronic pain, including but not limited to mediators of inflammation and pain, neuropathic pain and cancer pain.

“I am very honored to be a part of this list,” says Ji, director of both the Sensory Plasticity and Pain Research Laboratory and the Center for Translational Pain Medicine at Duke Anesthesiology. “It wouldn’t have been possible without the full support of our department and my teammates for which I am grateful.”

The year’s most highly cited researchers from Duke include: 

Biology and Biochemistry
Charles A. Gersbach
Robert J. Lefkowitz

Clinical Medicine
Pamela S. Douglas
Christopher Bull Granger
Adrian F. Hernandez
Manesh R.Patel
Eric D. Peterson

Richard Becker
Antonio Bertoletti (NUS)
Yiran Chen
Stefano Curtarolo
Derek J. Hausenloy (NUS)
Ru-Rong Ji
Jie Liu
Jason W. Locasale
David B. Mitzi
Christopher B. Newgard
Ram Oren
David R. Smith
Heather M. Stapleton
Avner Vengosh
Mark R. Wiesner

Environment and Ecology
Emily S. Bernhardt

Drew T. Shindell

Edward A. Miao

Barton F. Haynes

Neuroscience and Behavior
Quinn T. Ostrom

Pharmacology and Toxicology
Robert J. Lefkowitz

Plant and Animal Science
Xinnian Dong
Sheng Yang He
Philip N. Benfey

Psychiatry and Psychology
Avshalom Caspi
Jane Costello
Honalee Harrington
Renate M. Houts
Terrie E. Moffitt

Social Sciences
Michael J. Pencina
Bryce B. Reeve
John W. Williams

Source: Duke Research Blog, November 16, 2021

Stacey HiltonDr. Ji Named a Highly Cited Researcher
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Dr. Achanta Awarded NIH Grant for Countermeasures Research

Satya Achanta, DVM, PhD, DABTThe National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Environmental Health Services has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Satya Achanta, DVM, PhD, DABT, a two-year, $442,750 R21 grant for his project, titled “Inhibition of Soluble Epoxide Hydrolase Protects Against Phosgene-Induced Lung Injuries.”

The toxic effects of phosgene gas were first reported in 1899 by a group of anesthesiologists and surgeons due to the conversion of chloroform to phosgene. In modern times, phosgene is widely used as a chemical intermediate in the chemical manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, polymers, dyes, and other products. Despite the use of phosgene as a chemical weapon since World War I, there is no effective antidote.

Phosgene gas-exposed victims experience chest tightness and shortness of breath at about six to eight hours after inhalation, with progressive hypoxia and severe pulmonary edema leading to high mortality. The recovered individuals may experience long-term symptoms such as airway and pulmonary remodeling, and asphyxia. Currently, symptomatic treatment is provided to victims. Therefore, phosgene gas remains an important threat, potentially released in industrial accidents, diverted, or synthesized by terrorist groups.

In the funded proposal, Achanta and his team will identify and test novel therapeutic drugs that inhibit factors contributing to pulmonary injury and promote the resolution of the injury. The project is part of the portfolio of NIH’s Countermeasures against Chemical Threats (CounterACT) Program, a trans-agency initiative launched by the Department of Health and Human Services after the 9/11 attacks to improve the nation’s preparedness and to engage academia in countermeasures research. Achanta made significant contributions to the medical countermeasures research over the past nine years, in collaboration with Duke Anesthesiology’s Dr. Sven-Eric Jordt.

Stacey HiltonDr. Achanta Awarded NIH Grant for Countermeasures Research
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Grant Awarded for Immunoprofiling Study

Niccolò Terrando, BSc (hons), DIC, PhD

Niccolò Terrando, BSc (hons), DIC, PhD

The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Niccolò Terrando, PhD, and University of Rochester’s Harris Gelbard, MD, PhD, a $239,843 multi-PI R21 grant for their project, “Immunoprofiling Postoperative Delirium During Aging and Neurodegeneration.”

Millions of elderly Americans live with cognitive impairment and require common surgical interventions, such as orthopedic surgery, that are frequently accompanied by delirium in the postoperative period. The proposed research will address this serious public health concern by providing key data about immune cell populations that are the likely cause of this type of delirium. This will help Terrando and Gelbard develop new therapies that target these immune cells for these high-risk patients.

With the R21 award, they will explore the use of the technique of mass cytometry (CyTOF) that is available through the Gelbard lab to identify immune cell subsets that mediate neuroinflammation in the central nervous system (CNS) using a well- established orthopedic mouse model of postoperative delirium developed by Terrando’s Neuroinflammation and Cognitive Outcomes Laboratory. This represents an ever-growing collaboration between these two labs, which over the past five years have been tackling questions on how surgery, and more recently infection akin to COVID-19, affect the vulnerable brain. “We are thrilled to be working with Dr. Gelbard and his team to expand our understanding on how surgery engages the immune system in contributing to complications such as delirium,” says Terrando, associate professor in anesthesiology.

Harris Gelbard, MD, PhD

Harris Gelbard, MD, PhD

Dysregulated immunity is a hallmark of normal aging; it is also recognized as a key feature of many neurological disorders, including dementia and perioperative complications like delirium as recently reviewed in Nature Immunology. No study has yet attempted to unbiasedly profile the immune subset specific response to orthopedic surgical trauma in the CNS. Terrando and Gelbard will conduct two specific aims: (1) to define how age differences between young adult and elderly male and female mice modulate immune cell subsets in the CNS and blood after orthopedic surgery; and (2) to determine the impact of Alzheimer’s (AD)-like pathologic features using 5xFAD transgenic male and female mice (an accelerated model to study key aspects of neurodegeneration) on immune cell subsets in the CNS and blood after orthopedic surgery. The ability to resolve immune cell subsets and align them with discrete repertoires of pro-inflammatory signaling molecules with CyTOF will be key to understanding whether delirium results from neuroinflammation due to peripherally migrating and/or CNS-resident immunocytes.

Findings from this research are expected to have an important, positive impact on the ADRD field to reduce the impact of delirium and dementia in the aging population by helping identify patients at greater risk for developing delirium and delirium superimposed on dementia. “We are grateful for the continuous support by the National Institute on Aging to advance this field of research,” adds Terrando.

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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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