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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Announcing the 2022 DIG Recipients

2022 DREAM Innovation Grant Recipients

Please join us in congratulating Duke Anesthesiology’s 2022 DREAM Innovation Grant (DIG) recipients, Lisa Einhorn, MD, and Shad Smith, PhD. They have each been awarded $30,000 in seed money for their innovative pilot studies, which ultimately helps them apply for and obtain extramural funding.

DIGs are part of the department’s Duke DREAM Campaign, established in 2007 to support research programs and initiatives. DIGs support innovative high-risk and potentially high-reward investigations to accelerate anesthesia and pain management. Funding provided by the DIGs will support each recipient for one year, during which pilot studies can be conducted.

Lisa Einhorn, MD

Lisa Einhorn, MD

“Pediatric Pain Optimization After Tonsillectomy: A Randomized Double Blind Methadone Pilot Study”

Dr. Einhorn’s DIG research aims to explore an innovative approach to managing pediatric perioperative pain with the use of intraoperative methadone and determining its optimal dose in children following tonsillectomy. The long-term goals are to improve pain control after a common pediatric procedure and reduce the need for outpatient opioid prescriptions, which often remain partially unused and undisposed.

Shad Smith, PhD

Shad Smith, PhD

“Mechanisms of Genetic Regulation of Nociception and Injury Resilience by Mras

Dr. Smith’s DIG research will investigate a gene recently discovered to protect against chronic pain, MRAS, by characterizing its function and interactions with nociceptive pathways, in order to better understand and utilize innate healing processes.

To date, $982,374 in DREAM Innovation Grants have led to nearly $15 million in extramural funding.

The annual DIG competition launched in 2010. We thank those who applied this year, and we express our sincere appreciation to the DIG Application Review Committee and the donors who continue to support our research programs and initiatives, ultimately helping us transform the future of patient care and protect quality of life for years to come.

We look forward to seeing Drs. Einhorn and Smith’s innovative projects develop.

Stacey HiltonAnnouncing the 2022 DIG Recipients
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Dr. Meng Named FAER Grant Recipient

Marie-Louise Meng, MDThe Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Marie-Louise Meng, MD, a two-year, $250,000 Mentored Research Training Grant for her project, “Cardiovascular Risk Prediction for Improved Maternal Health,” which aims to create a risk score to predict cardiovascular events after pregnancy complicated by preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia (PreX) is a common cause of maternal morbidity and mortality, complicating 2-12 percent of pregnancies. PreX is a risk factor for acute and chronic cardiovascular (CV) disease. Mortality due to PreX is largely preventable, but despite this, accounts for more than 62,000 deaths per year globally. While PreX is a strong independent risk factor for postpartum CV events, there remains a challenge in identifying women with PreX who are at greatest risk for acute CV events, likely contributing to failure in preventing these complications.

Improved modeling may identify PreX patients at risk for CV events who would benefit from treatment for prevention of CV events. Using administrative data, an obstetric comorbidity index was developed to predict all forms of morbidity at delivery, however, this index is not PreX nor CV morbidity specific. Improved models specific to PreX could change management of these patients by improving prompt access to appropriate care.

The long-term goal of Meng’s research is to reduce CV morbidity due to PreX. The study’s objective is to create a comprehensive risk model to predict acute CV events in women with PreX. Meng’s central hypothesis is that a model inclusive of CV and PreX-specific factors will improve an existing obstetric comorbidity index. To test this hypothesis, she will leverage the Premier dataset and a combined Duke/University of North Carolina dataset to create and validate a CV event specific risk score in women with PreX using both traditional and machine learning methods; then, prospectively add measures of plasma biomarkers to improve model performance.

Meng’s research project mentors are Duke Anesthesiology’s Dr. Ashraf Habib (secondary), chief of the department’s Women’s Anesthesiology Division, and Duke Medicine’s Dr. Svati Shah (primary). “I am grateful for the opportunity to complete this project and for Dr. Shah’s devoted mentorship,” says Meng, assistant professor of anesthesiology.

Stacey HiltonDr. Meng Named FAER Grant Recipient
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Dr. Karhausen Awarded NIH Grant for Septic Shock Study

Jorn Karhausen, MDThe National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Jorn Karhausen, MD, a four-year, $1,719,290 R01 grant for his project, “Platelet-Mast Cell Interactions as Determinants of the Vascular Pathology in Septic Shock.”

Development of shock in sepsis defines a dramatic deterioration of clinical status and is linked to a significant increase in morbidity and mortality rates. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms determining the vascular pathology of septic shock remain undefined.

Karhausen’s previous work established mast cells (MC) as key effector cells of vascular pathology in different disease contexts. Because MC products are found in the plasma in shock, but not during sepsis alone, this supports that MC activation is a central event leading to septic shock.

Based on extensive preliminary work, they hypothesize that specific signaling interactions between platelets from within the blood stream and MCs, which are located close by, but outside of the blood vessels, drive the vascular pathology of septic shock. The objectives of this study are to 1) comprehensively define the mechanisms of MC-mediated vascular pathology in sepsis, 2) elucidate the specific mechanism by which platelets trigger MC responses and resultant vascular pathology and 3) better define the clinical sepsis phenotype using biomarkers of platelet-, vascular- and MC- activation in patients.

To provide first evidence how MCs shape key features of shock in sepsis, Karhausen and his co-investigators will employ state-of-the- art technologies ranging from dynamic photoacoustic imaging of the microvasculature to gene expression modeling from clinical samples. This comprehensive approach will be made possible through a strong collaborative team, including groups from the School of Engineering, the Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine and the Department of Pathology at Duke, as well as the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at UNC.

“Together, this project constitutes a key step towards our long-term goal to establish MC responses as a biomarker of sepsis biology,” says Karhausen, associate professor of anesthesiology, “and to develop novel therapeutic strategies that may directly target the mechanisms of disease progression in sepsis.”

Stacey HiltonDr. Karhausen Awarded NIH Grant for Septic Shock Study
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Dr. Bauer Awarded NIH Grant for Maternal Sepsis Study

Melissa E. Bauer, DO

Melissa E. Bauer, DO

The National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Melissa Bauer, DO, a two-year, $1,575,463 UG3 grant for her project titled, “Large-Scale Implementation of Community Co-led Maternal Sepsis Care Practices to Reduce Morbidity and Mortality from Maternal Infection.” This award is part of a phased five-year grant.

Maternal infection progressing to sepsis is the leading cause of direct maternal mortality in the United States with high preventability. Nationally, there has been no improvement in the overall percentage of deaths from infection since 1987 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began maternal mortality surveillance, despite improvements in overall sepsis care for non-pregnant patients.

Dr. Elliott Main

Elliott Main, MD

Bauer’s research with multi-PI, Dr. Elliott Main of Stanford, focuses on a community co-led strategy to refine, test and disseminate universal pregnancy-adjusted screening, diagnostic criteria and treatment practices for sepsis to overall reduce maternal morbidity and mortality from maternal infection. The overall objectives of the research are to 1) identify patient-based and clinician-based barriers, 2) refine sepsis screening in pregnancy and 3) implement a large-scale quality improvement collaborative.

Bauer and Main will pursue the following aims: 1) develop and support a maternal sepsis community leadership group of community representatives, patients, patient advocates, survivors, and family members of those who did not survive to inform and engage substantively throughout the study; 2A) identify patient-based barriers to care for severe maternal infection and sepsis; 2B) identify clinician-based barriers to implementation; 2C) design strategies to implement evidence-based sepsis care interventions, specifically targeted to address and overcome barriers identified in aims 2A and 2B; 3) establish test characteristics of a pregnancy-adjusted intrapartum sepsis screen.

“Our research is innovative because it is one of the first studies to co-lead a large-scale maternal initiative with representatives from the community, patient advocate representatives, and patients and families with lived experience with sepsis,” says Bauer, associate professor of anesthesiology. “We expect that by identifying and addressing barriers to care and implementation through community, clinician, and patient partnerships, this large-scale implementation initiative will serve as a national model to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity from sepsis, reduce disparities, and potentially serve as a model to address other causes of mortality.”

Stacey HiltonDr. Bauer Awarded NIH Grant for Maternal Sepsis Study
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Duke Anesthesiology Chairman Receives Esteemed Mentoring Award

Joseph P. Mathew, MD, MHSc, MBA

The Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) has named Joseph Mathew, MD, MHSc, MBA, Jerry Reves, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology and chairman of Duke Anesthesiology, the 2021 recipient of the FAER Mentoring Excellence in Research Award.

This award recognizes the value of outstanding mentors in anesthesiology; it was established to ensure recognition of outstanding people who have sustained career commitment to mentoring and demonstrated a significant, positive impact on the careers of mentees.

In the letters of support submitted on behalf of Mathew, he was commended as recognizing that success in research can often mean different things to different people and reflecting this in the mentorship he offers; providing insights to mentees and others on how to approach research questions in innovative ways; as well as offering tangible mentorship to mentees in keeping with the philosophy of Mathew’s own mentor, the late Dr. Paul Barash.

“Having a good mentor is critical to the pursuit of success and significance in both our careers and in our lives. Mentoring, in turn, is our opportunity to invest in the lives of the next generation to enable those we mentor to reach heights we could have never imagined ourselves. I am truly humbled by this award and feel very undeserving of the kind words of nomination or the award,” says Mathew. “The award is a reflection of those who mentored/invested in me over many years and to that end, I am deeply grateful to Drs. Paul Barash, Jerry Reves and Mark Newman. I am also grateful for FAER’s dedication to developing the next generation of physician-scientists and want to highlight that supporting FAER’s mission is critical for the long-term success of anesthesiology.”

Source: (FAER article – September 22, 2021)

Stacey HiltonDuke Anesthesiology Chairman Receives Esteemed Mentoring Award
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