Dr. Dominguez Awarded 2017 SOAP Grant

Jennifer Dominguez, MDThe Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Dr. Jennifer Dominguez a two-year, $100,000 Gertie Marx Education and Research Grant for her project titled, “Obstructive Sleep Apnea Screening in Pregnant Women with Chronic Hypertension.”

Pregnant women with chronic hypertension and their babies are at a significant risk for severe morbidity. Chronic hypertension complicates 3-5 percent of all pregnancies, and 17-29 percent of women with chronic hypertension will go on to develop preeclampsia. Both conditions have been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease later in life. Obstructive sleep apnea is a risk factor for chronic hypertension and long-term cardiovascular disease. Despite the association of obstructive sleep apnea with adverse pregnancy outcomes, screening for obstructive sleep apnea in pregnancy with validated tools has proved challenging.

In this study, Dr. Dominguez will determine if portable home sleep testing of pregnant women with chronic hypertension is warranted. This knowledge is crucial to the development of screening algorithms that will lead to the early identification and treatment of pregnant women with obstructive sleep apnea. Notably, in non-pregnant adults, treatment of obstructive sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure improves blood pressure control; this may be an important intervention that could improve maternal and neonatal outcomes.

Dr. Dominguez is an assistant professor of anesthesiology with Duke Anesthesiology’s Women’s Anesthesia Division and the program director for the department’s Obstetric Anesthesiology Fellowship. Her research interests include women’s anesthesia, high-risk obstetric anesthesia, obesity and pregnancy, obstructive sleep apnea and pregnancy, and postpartum hemorrhage. She is also part of Duke Anesthesiology’s NIH T32 training program.

Chris KeithDr. Dominguez Awarded 2017 SOAP Grant
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Dr. Terrando Awarded Core Specific Voucher

Niccolo Terrando, PhDDuke University’s Mouse Behavioral and Neuroendocrine Core Facility has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Niccolo Terrando, PhD, a $5,000 voucher to evaluate the effects of vagal nerve stimulation on cognitive function.

His project, titled “Vagal Nerve Stimulation as a Therapy for Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction,” will analyze the efficacy in protecting or ameliorating cognitive decline after surgery using this novel intervention. This project relates to the 2016-2017 funded Duke Institute for Brain Sciences Research Incubator Award, titled “Bioelectronic Medicine and Cholinergic Regulation of Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction.”

Dr. Terrando is the director of the department’s Neuroinflammation and Cognitive Outcomes Laboratory and a collaborator with the Center for Translational Pain Medicine which represents a novel entity aimed at driving the discovery of new and innovative pain therapies to improve patient outcomes.

Chris KeithDr. Terrando Awarded Core Specific Voucher
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Study Shows Menthol Makes Nicotine More Palatable

Sven-Eric Jordt, PhDMenthol, the minty and cooling natural product in peppermint, is a highly popular flavor in tobacco products. More than 30 percent of smokers in the United States smoke menthol cigarettes, and most beginning smokers prefer menthols. Chewing tobacco, snuff and snus also come in highly popular mentholated varieties.

A new study from Dr. Sven-Eric Jordt’s Chemical Sensing, Pain and Inflammation Research Laboratory at Duke Anesthesiology reveals that menthol masks the bad taste of nicotine. Tobacco by itself has a rather unpleasant burnt and bitter taste. This is partially due to nicotine in tobacco that is bitter and irritating, causing a burning and pungent sensation. The manuscript titled, “Menthol decreases oral nicotine aversion in C57BL/6 mice through a TRPM8-dependent mechanism” is published in the October 2016 issue of the journal Tobacco Control.

“Contributing to Duke Anesthesiology’s pain research efforts, our lab has studied the cooling and soothing effects of menthol that is widely used for topical pain treatment in pain creams and patches,” says Dr. Jordt. “We were intrigued whether menthol would also suppress the irritating effects of nicotine.”

To examine menthol’s effects, Dr. Jordt’s lab scientists presented mice with a choice of water with nicotine or water containing both nicotine and menthol. The mice strongly preferred the mentholated nicotine and did so repeatedly over days. Mice share their aversion to nicotine with humans and also perceive menthol as soothing and cooling, sensing menthol with specific temperature-sensing nerves in the mouth.

“Menthol is not only a pleasant flavor, but has potent sensory effects that make it easier to consume nicotine,” says Dr. Jordt, associate professor in anesthesiology and faculty member of Duke Anesthesiology’s Center for Translational Pain Medicine. “We hope our findings will inform regulatory policies to curtail tobacco use and prevent children from becoming new tobacco consumers.” The study was a collaboration with Dr. Marina Picciotto’s laboratory of the Yale Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science in the Department of Psychiatry, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Food and Drug Administration.

Chris KeithStudy Shows Menthol Makes Nicotine More Palatable
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Chief of Pain Research Awarded NIH Grant

Ru-Rong Ji, PhDThe National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Dr. Ru-Rong Ji and his co-principal investigator, Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a one-year, $100,000 National Institutes of Health grant for their project titled, “Hemichannels, Astrocytic Release, and Neuropathic Pain.”

Pain conditions are a major health problem in the United States which can lead to medical morbidity and a reduced quality of life for millions of Americans. Chronic neuropathic pain conditions are especially difficult to treat. A largely unaddressed challenge is how the transition from acute pain to chronic neuropathic pain occurs and how to prevent and reverse this transition in patients. This project will employ a multidisciplinary approach including the use of inducible transgenic mice with genetically modified astrocytes, in vivo imaging of ATP release (bioluminescence) and microglia motility and Ca2+ changes (2-photon) in the spinal cord, behavioral testing of evoked and ongoing neuropathic pain after nerve injury, and ex vivo and in vivo electrophysiology in the spinal cord. The proposed studies will provide a step-by-step analysis of neuron-glia interactions initiated by nerve injury and may comprise an efficient means to prevent and treat chronic pain.

Dr. Ji is a distinguished professor of anesthesiology at the Duke University School of Medicine, the chief of pain research at Duke Anesthesiology, a faculty member of Duke Anesthesiology’s Center for Translational Pain Medicine and the director of the department’s Pain Signaling and Plasticity Laboratory. Dr. Gang Chen, the co-investigator of this project, is also a  member of Dr. Ji’s lab. This award is a supplement to Dr. Ji’s larger NIH R01 of the same name.

Chris KeithChief of Pain Research Awarded NIH Grant
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Duke AHEAD Grant Awarded

Drs Udani and De GagneThe Duke Academy for Health Professions Education and Academic Development (Duke AHEAD)  has awarded Dr. Jennie De Gagne (Duke School of Nursing) and her team of five co-investigators, including Duke Anesthesiology’s Dr. Ankeet Udani, a $5,025 grant for their project titled, “Needs Assessment of Cybercivility Learning in an Interprofessional Education.”

The goal of this study is to conduct a needs assessment to facilitate the development of interprofessional cybercivility learning modules and curriculum resources for health professions students.

Dr. Udani, assistant professor of anesthesiology and assistant director of the Duke Anesthesiology Residency Program, was awarded membership to Duke AHEAD in July of 2014. Its mission is to promote excellence in the education of health professionals by creating a community of education scholars, fostering innovation in health professions education, supporting outstanding teachers, providing faculty development programs, and facilitating quality education research.

Chris KeithDuke AHEAD Grant Awarded
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Grant Awarded to Improve Stroke Outcomes

Wei Yang, PhDThe National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has awarded Wei Yang, PhD, a 5-year, $1,739,065 National Institutes of Health grant to pursue his study, titled “The Unfolded Protein Response and Neuroprotection in Stroke.”

The goal of this project is to determine the role of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the unfolded protein response (UPR) in stroke. The UPR is a pro-survival response that restores ER function impaired by stroke, and facilitates recovery of cellular protein homeostasis, which is critical to the survival of stressed cells. Understanding how UPR pathways define the fate and function of post-ischemic neurons is expected to inform the development of new therapeutic strategies to boost this pro-survival response and improve stroke outcome. To complete this study, novel UPR-selective and neuron-specific knock-out and knock-in mouse models as well as various pharmacologic tools will be used.

Dr. Yang’s mentor, Dr. Wulf Paschen, and Dr. Huaxin Sheng, both of Duke Anesthesiology, are co-investigators on this project. Significant contributors include Duke Anesthesiology’s Dr. David Warner, Dr. John Chatham (University of Alabama at Birmingham) and Christopher Glembotski (San Diego State University).

This is the second research grant awarded to Dr. Yang this year. The grant application was highly rated (third percentile) in the first submission cycle. Dr. Yang participated in the external grant review program provided by the department to gather valuable feedback on this application before submission to NIH.

Chris KeithGrant Awarded to Improve Stroke Outcomes
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