Duke University Awards Dr. Maixner Distinguished Professorship

William Maixner, DDS, PhDWe are pleased to announce that Duke Anesthesiology’s William Maixner, DDS, PhD, has received one of the highest honors in academia with his appointment as the Joannes H. Karis, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology, designated by the Duke University School of Medicine. This endowed professorship recognizes Dr. Maixner’s extraordinary achievements in advancing medical science, significantly shaping the field of pain research and education, profoundly impacting patient care and exemplifying superior mentorship.

Endowed professorships established within Duke Anesthesiology are awarded to the department’s most distinguished physician-scientists who have exhibited both outstanding accomplishments and strong potential for future pursuits. These highly coveted, permanently named memorials, promote scientific discovery and the advancement of anesthesia care.

Dr. Maixner is an internationally-renowned pain researcher who has dedicated his career to unraveling the mysteries of chronic pain and is committed to translating basic discoveries into novel diagnostics and treatments that will impact research, education and patient care, worldwide. He is the director of Duke Anesthesiology’s Center for Translational Pain Medicine (CTPM), established in January of 2016 to further expand the department’s clinical and research program in pain medicine. Bringing together leading basic scientists, clinicians and clinical researchers who have a common core mission of developing novel therapies to improve patient care, this center is rapidly becoming internationally-recognized as the best-in-class translational pain medicine program. Dr. Maixner was also a driving force in the development of Duke Innovative Pain Therapies, a first-of-its-kind multispecialty pain practice in Raleigh that opened its doors to patients in September of 2016. He plays a key role as a knowledge leader in the field of pain; Dr. Maixner was recently named president elect of the American Pain Society and currently serves on our nation’s Health and Human Services Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee and the National Institute of Health’s Pain Consortium, which shapes the direction of our nation’s future national strategies in pain research, education and patient care. Additionally, Dr. Maixner was appointed as a member in the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) Academy of Research Mentors in Anesthesiology. His mentorship skills are evidenced by the success of the more than 20 students, trainees and mid-career scientists whom he has mentored throughout the past 30 years.

“It’s a wonderful honor to be recognized by Duke University and the Karis family,” says Dr. Maixner. “Dr. Karis was a pioneer in the area of translational research where he developed and implemented new ways of treating patients in the operating room. I hope to be able to follow in his footsteps by developing new ways of treating patients with pain conditions, an area that he was beginning to pursue late in his career. This endowed professorship will truly enable myself and my colleagues to push the frontiers forward as Dr. Karis did in his own career.”

In 2012, Duke Anesthesiology proudly announced the Joannes H. Karis Professorship, made possible through the generous donations of the Karis family, including Dr. Karis’ wife, Martha, and their children, Drs. Martha Karis Fikrig and John Karis, in effort to preserve his legacy.

Mr. and Mrs. KarisJoannes H. Karis, MD, is one of Duke Anesthesiology’s most distinguished emeritus faculty. He is known as a remarkable leader, scientist, pioneer, and philanthropist who was instrumental in the growth and development of both the cardiac and pediatric divisions at the Duke University School of Medicine. In 1975, Dr. Karis’ mentor, Dr. Merel H. Harmel, the “founding father of Duke Anesthesiology,” recruited him to Duke where he spent the final 18 years of his career doing cardiac anesthesia. Through his groundbreaking research, Dr. Karis helped to uncover the dangers of ultraviolet radiation in the operating room and identify the physiologic mechanisms of neuromuscular blockade agents. He served as the director of one of the world’s first surgical intensive care units and was a key player in refining early physiological monitoring and anesthesia delivery systems that have evolved to become essential components of the modern operating room.

In a “Career Reflections” article written by Dr. Karis in 2012, he said, “My wife and I hope that our sponsorship of an endowed chair within the Duke University Department of Anesthesiology will help to build on the phenomenal level of research, teamwork, patient care, and physician education with which I am honored and proud to be affiliated.”

Dr. Maixner is the fifth faculty member of Duke Anesthesiology to be named a distinguished professor. The department believes that investing in the promotion of its faculty’s professional growth and the enhancement of learning for students is vital to the future of medicine. Creating endowed professorships provides distinguished faculty with the means to discover unprecedented breakthroughs, adding to the thriving academic environment at Duke, and to attract world-class faculty for generations to come.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Maixner on being named the Joannes H. Karis, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology as we wish him continued success in his career.

Chris KeithDuke University Awards Dr. Maixner Distinguished Professorship
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Dr. Kwatra Awarded Funding in the Fight Against Glioblastoma

Madan M. Kwatra, PhDDelMar Pharmaceuticals has awarded Dr. Madan Kwatra a three-year, $715,500 grant, titled “Development of VAL-083, alone or in combination with other agents, to inhibit the growth of specific subsets of glioblastoma (personalized drug development).”

Glioblastoma (GBM) is a deadly brain cancer, and attempts to control its progression have been limited. The current standard of care consists of surgery followed by radiation and chemotherapy using temozolomide. However, temozolomide only works for about 40 percent of GBM patients who have a methylated MGMT promoter.  In contrast, VAL-083 is a novel chemotherapeutic agent that has activity against GBM with both methylated and unmethylated MGMT promoters. Thus, VAL-083 is a more versatile chemotherapeutic agent that may help a wider subset of GBM patients.

The completion of the proposed pre-clinical studies will identify molecular characteristics of GBM tumors that are more likely to respond to VAL-083 therapy either alone, or through combination therapies. This personalized medicine approach will be used to initiate clinical trials in newly diagnosed GBM patients.

Chris KeithDr. Kwatra Awarded Funding in the Fight Against Glioblastoma
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Dr. Taekman Awarded Funding for Microbiome Clinical Trial

Jeffrey M. Taekman, MDClasado/Host Therabiomics has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Dr. Jeffrey Taekman $69,885 in funding for a clinical trial titled, “Exploring the Impact of Perioperative Galacto-Oligosaccharides (GOS) on Stress, Anxiety and Cognition.”

Studies link the gut microbiota to the function of the central nervous system, both in behavior and cognition. Prebiotics stimulate growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. The overall objective of this proposal is to explore, in the perioperative period, the association between the administration of the prebiotic GOS and pain, anxiety and cognitive function. His central hypothesis is subjects who consume GOS in the perioperative period will demonstrate lower levels of salivary cortisol before, during, and after their operative procedures. In addition, he expects subjects who consume GOS to have lower perceived levels of anxiety during the perioperative period. Finally, he hypothesizes that subjects who consume perioperative GOS will perform better on tests of cognition in the postoperative period.

Dr. Taekman is a professor of anesthesiology, the assistant dean for educational technology, and the director of the Duke Human Simulation and Patient Safety Center. He is currently a fellow in the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine where he is pursuing his interests in the medicinal use of food as well as mind-body medicine.

Chris KeithDr. Taekman Awarded Funding for Microbiome Clinical Trial
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Dr. Nicoara Receives Inaugural Echocardiography Award

Alina Nicoara, MD, FASEThe Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists (SCA) has selected Duke Anesthesiology’s Alina Nicoara, MD, FASE, as the recipient of the inaugural Echo Week Co-Directors’ Award!

This honor is awarded to a mid-career anesthesiologist. Dr. Nicoara was chosen to be the first-ever recipient of this award based on her nationally-recognized expertise in perioperative echocardiography, her contributions to research in this field, and her potential to continue performing at this high level.

“I am honored to receive this award from friends and mentors, people I try to emulate every day in many ways,” says Dr. Nicoara, who will accept her award at the 20th Annual Echo Week in Atlanta on May 25. “I consider myself very lucky that, although the SCA Echo Week is an intense work experience for both faculty and participants, it’s also an opportunity to have fun and spend time with my colleagues.”

The SCA is an international organization of physicians that promotes excellence in patient care through education and research in perioperative care for patients undergoing cardiothoracic and vascular procedures.

Dr. Nicoara is the director of the Duke Perioperative Echocardiography Service. Its mission is to promote excellence in perioperative cardiac ultrasound imaging, and inspire and educate future generations of anesthesiologists and critical care physicians.

Chris KeithDr. Nicoara Receives Inaugural Echocardiography Award
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Global Health Leader Earns Prestigious Award

Adeyemi J. Olufolabi, MB MSDuke Anesthesiology’s Adeyemi Olufolabi, MB BS, has earned a prestigious Fulbright Global Scholar Award for his commitment to research and teaching.

This award is part of the Core Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program which offers more than 500 teaching, research or combination teaching/research awards in at least 125 countries. Dr. Olufolabi proposed to educate anesthesia providers and students in Rwanda on high-risk obstetrics in a main tertiary hospital in that country. This award will allow him to train leaders within the field of anesthesia in the management of obstetric anesthesia service due to the high maternal mortality experienced. Dr. Olufolabi will also conduct a study to examine the impact of maternal death on male partners/spouses and the family.

“It has been my dream to spend extended time in Africa to see how I can make a difference,” says Dr. Olufolabi. “I am so grateful for this opportunity that both the Fulbright program and Duke Anesthesiology have helped birth.”

Dr. Olufolabi is an associate professor of anesthesiology who is actively engaged in global health and the role of anesthesia in resolving the disparity gap. He is a key leader of the Duke Anesthesiology Global Health Program and an affiliate of the Duke Global Health Institute. His research interests focus on obstetric and gynecological anesthesia, including the use of opioids in the obstetric population.

Chris KeithGlobal Health Leader Earns Prestigious Award
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Faculty Awarded Grant to Advance Field of Transplantation

Anne Cherry, MDThe Transplantation and Immunology Research Network (TIRN), an American Society of Transplantation (AST) program, has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Dr. Anne Cherry a one-year, $50,000 AST TIRN Basic Science Faculty Development Research Grant for her proposal titled, “Interface of Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Immune Activation in Heterotopic Mouse Heart Transplant.”

Primary graft dysfunction (PGD) after cardiac transplant occurs in about 7.5 percent of recipients; there is concern that the rate is increasing due to a) extension of ischemic time to facilitate organ distribution and b) increasing use of high risk donor organs due to increasing mismatch in organ demand vs. availability. Graft dysfunction is a devastating complication, resulting in prolonged post-transplant hospitalization (often requiring invasive mechanical circulatory support or re-transplant) and 35 percent one-year mortality.

The long term goal of Dr. Cherry’s research is to identify and manipulate signaling targets that control the interface between impaired mitochondrial quality control after ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury and inflammatory activation in PGD to a) improve donor selection (prediction of PGD), b) implement pre-organ harvest donor interventions to stimulate mitochondrial quality control pathways, and c) intervene by specifically targeting key modulators of the mitochondrial-inflammatory interface to prevent excessive immune activation.

Through this research, Dr. Cherry aims to 1) characterize the impact of deficits in mitochondrial function and recovery on PGD in a syngenic transgenic heterotopic mouse heart transplant model and 2) characterize subsequent inflammatory activation attributable to those pre-existing mitochondrial regulation deficits acutely (24 hours) and at mid- to longer-term time points (7 and 21 days). She will serially investigate and compare changes in mitochondrial structure/distribution (electron microscopy); oxidative damage, cell death and fibrosis; molecular mitochondrial quality control markers; and graft function (echocardiography) will help illustrate the PGD phenotype in this model. Differences in the temporal course (particularly focused on macrophage phenotypes), magnitude, cellular composition, and functionality of the immune phenotype for PGC-1ɑ +/- vs. WT grafts will be evaluated using histology, markers for neutrophil infiltration, and flow cytometry characterization of both serum and graft infiltrates. Together, these aims will allow identification and, most importantly, manipulation of key modulators of the mitochondrial-inflammatory interface in cardiac transplant patients.

Overall, this investigation into the interaction of mitochondrial quality control and oxidative stress with inflammatory injury will also translate to patients with graft dysfunction of other transplanted organs and to ischemia/reperfusion injury in other pathologic processes (i.e. myocardial infarction). Dr. Cherry will use the novel mechanisms to identify new interventions to modulate I/R injury and graft dysfunction, promote recovery, and prevent consequent immune activation.

The AST is the largest transplant organization in America, dedicated to advancing the field of transplantation and improving patient care by promoting research, education, advocacy and organ donation. Dr. Cherry, assistant professor of anesthesiology in Duke’s Cardiothoracic Anesthesia Division, will accept this grant award at the AST Excellence in Transplantation Reception at the 2017 American Transplant Congress in Chicago on May 1. Her research for this project will begin on July 1.

Chris KeithFaculty Awarded Grant to Advance Field of Transplantation
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