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. Ray Appointed to Associate Vice Chair Position

Neil D. Ray, MD, MMCi, Associate Vice Chair for Business Development

We are pleased to announce that Neil Ray, MD, MMCi, has been appointed the associate vice chair for business development, effective December 1st.

In this new role, Dr. Ray will be responsible for identifying, growing and optimizing business opportunities for the department (i.e. diversifying departmental revenue streams). He will also be responsible for establishing robotic process automation in areas such as finance, human resources and credentialing; incorporating machine learning into the business practices of the department; and exploring payor partnerships.

“I’m excited to work with department leadership and faculty to strategically grow opportunities that will benefit not only our department, but also individual faculty,” says Dr. Ray, assistant professor of anesthesiology. “I believe successful innovations come from all of us and hope to realize the wealth of talent available in our department. I’m particularly interested in combining my interests in analytics, technology and business to help advance our collective vision and mission.”

Dr. Ray received his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. He went on to complete his anesthesiology residency at the University of California San Francisco and a fellowship in pain management at Stanford University. After joining Duke Anesthesiology faculty, Dr. Ray earned advanced degrees in Master of Management in Clinical Informatics from Duke and Machine Learning in Business Executive Program from MIT. Dr. Ray is also finishing an MBA with concentrations in finance and business analytics from North Carolina State University and is a member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association.

Dr. Ray is a member of the Orthopaedics, Plastics and Regional Anesthesiology Division and is a physician who specializes in integrating the worlds of clinical care, business/finance, and technology/informatics to innovatively solve health care issues and deliver measurable results. He plays a key departmental role in financial and operational modeling during the assessment of new sites of service. Dr. Ray also has years of experience in evaluating, implementing and managing both clinical and business innovation technology, including the launch of our department’s conversational artificial intelligence (AI) embedded on the Duke Anesthesiology website – successfully used as a recruitment tool for our department’s training programs. Dr. Ray was instrumental in bringing together multiple stakeholders for this AI project, which has now expanded to be a core component of Duke Digital Health’s strategic plan. He also serves as the chief innovation and technology officer for the PDC. In this role, he is pursuing opportunities to unify stakeholders in revamping and improving the patient and employee experience through more timely measurement and action.

Since joining Duke in 2015, Dr. Ray has been an active member of several committees and organizations, including the PDC Retirement, PDC Medical Leadership, Duke Clinical Enterprise Strategic Planning, and Duke Enterprise Wide Clinical Strategy committees.

Please join us in thanking Dr. Ray for his leadership and congratulating him on his new role in our department.

Stacey HiltonDr. Ray Appointed to Associate Vice Chair Position
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Dr. Pollak Appointed to Residency Leadership

Angela Pollak, MD, Assistant Residency Program Director

We are pleased to announce that Angela Li Pollak, MD, assistant professor of anesthesiology, has been appointed the assistant program director for the Duke Anesthesiology Residency Program, effective December 1st.

In this role, Dr. Pollak will serve as an integral part of the residency program’s leadership team, assisting with recruitment, resident advising and mentoring, and enhancement of the clinical and educational environment of the program.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the residency leadership team to support the continued success and growth of the Duke Anesthesiology Residency Program,” says Dr. Pollak. “I am a proud alumnus of the program, and I am excited to support the personal and professional success of current and future Duke Anesthesiology trainees.”

Dr. Pollak brings a wealth of experience to this role. She obtained her BA in biochemistry from Washington University in St. Louis and taught in a charter high school serving low-income students in Boston before going on to receive her medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical School in New York. In 2018, Dr. Pollak completed anesthesiology residency here at Duke in which she served as chief resident. That same year, she was selected to participate in the Feagin Leadership Program, designed to foster the development and training of future academic leaders. Dr. Pollak went on to complete Duke’s Adult Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology Fellowship where she served as a chief administrative fellow. She is also a 2021 scholar of our department’s Academy for Building Leadership Excellence (ABLE) Program. During her time at Duke, Dr. Pollak has been dedicated to medical education in several capacities, including simulation and crisis resource management. Furthermore, she is an active educator in the areas of Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS) and transesophageal echocardiography, and she serves as co-director of the Duke Anesthesiology Resident Coaching Program.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Pollak on her new position and welcoming her to the residency leadership team.

Stacey HiltonDr. Pollak Appointed to Residency Leadership
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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. Ross Appointed New Role

Allison K. Ross, MD New Role Announcement

We are pleased to announce that Allison Ross, MD, has been appointed the director of professional development, effective November 1st.

In this new role, Dr. Ross will be responsible initially for a shared model of coaching, advising and mentoring of faculty. The goal of the position is to train and then lead a small team of faculty who will be available to provide support to others during career transitions, including those required as a new attending, the challenges of establishing research, how to build success with new leadership positions, and performance improvement. Ultimately, the goal will also be to enhance teamwork within administrative and/or clinical groups through team coaching.

“I look forward to using my years of experience to help others reach their own career potential and to build effective teams within our perioperative environment,” says Dr. Ross. “The director position provides me with this opportunity and I am excited to develop it into a valuable resource for our department and for perioperative services.”

Dr. Ross received her medical degree from Marshall School of Medicine. She started her training as a resident in pediatrics at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC and then continued as a resident in anesthesiology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where she stayed to complete a fellowship in pediatric anesthesiology. Dr. Ross arrived at Duke 29 years ago as an associate in our department. She rose through the ranks, serving as the Pediatric Anesthesiology Division’s associate chief, interim chief and then appointed chief in 2006 – a position she stepped down from in April to pursue the next phase of her career, fostering career development in others.

Dr. Ross has provided leadership in 36 roles among Duke organizations and 20 roles among national and international organizations; she currently serves on a national task force supported by the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia to determine appropriate training for fellows and the future of the specialty. Certified as a business and professional coach, Dr. Ross looks forward to using those skills to contribute to the career development of faculty, trainees and staff.

Please join us in thanking Dr. Ross for her continued leadership and congratulating her on her new role in our department.

Stacey HiltonDr. Ross Appointed New Role
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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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