Signing of the “Morpheus Consortium”

Wednesday, June 8, marked a significant day for Duke Anesthesiology. Putting pen to paper in her office, Dean Nancy Andrews officially launched the “Morpheus Consortium” by signing the memorandum of understanding for academic cooperation between Duke University School of Medicine and University College London.

“I think it’s very exciting,” says Dean Andrews. “Collaborations like this are important because getting different perspectives and having people approach problems from different disciplines and backgrounds help us get to great solutions faster. This signing sends a message of institutional commitment to the department and this collaboration.”

The Morpheus Consortium is the branding of two universities with one shared goal – to be leaders in perioperative medicine and enhanced recovery after surgery, ultimately improving the patient’s journey from the moment their surgery is contemplated to full recovery.

“I believe this may be the first program in the nation to have a collaborative agreement with a respected, well-established entity in the U.K., in an area that we’re only now beginning to understand in our country,” says Dr. Sol Aronson, who was on hand for the signing. “It’s really a phenomenal opportunity for us to leapfrog so far ahead to establish and provide a premiere educational asset to the next generation of specialists who wish to focus on the rapidly evolving world of perioperative medicine.”

Named after the ancient Greek god of dreams, Duke and UCL leaders say Morpheus signifies their shared aspiration to help patients achieve the dream of drinking, eating and mobilizing as soon as possible after surgery. “There’s a crossover of how our health systems run. They are significantly different and I think there is a massive opportunity to learn from each other and take the best from both sides of the Atlantic,” adds Professor Mike Grocott of UCL.

The Morpheus Consortium creates opportunities for Duke and UCL to collaborate in research, education and international training, as well as the ability to test the edge of hyperbaric medicine and physiologic extremes, all in effort to improve patient care. The first formal collaboration under this brand is the new Duke Perioperative Medicine Fellowship which begins in July of 2017.

“I think the new fellows in perioperative medicine are the new breed of anesthesiologists going forward. They are our future,” says Professor Monty Mythen of UCL. “The new physician anesthesiologist is a perioperative physician as well, so they must be fully trained and educated to perform in that arena. We have to make sure that we can play our part, and we must contribute fully to the research and education that forms perioperative medicine.”

According to Professor Mythen, a new curriculum is being defined for the physician anesthesiologist; perioperative evaluation, communication of risk, strategy for mitigation of that risk, as well as clinical service and managerial competencies, are crucial components in the fellowship’s learning modules.

“We are a very innovative department and we at Duke want to be leading the way as we move into this new era of health care,” says Dr. Timothy Miller, program director of the new perioperative fellowship, one of only eight in the nation.

But what makes this fellowship novel and unique, says Dr. Miller, is the opportunity for fellows to enroll in the UCL master’s program in perioperative medicine, the largest in the world. Additionally, fellows can spend two weeks in London and receive mentoring from national and international experts in both clinical service design and research projects.

“In the continuum of a life cycle of an entity, you begin by surviving, then you evolve to growth, and if you’re fortunate enough you enter that sphere of ‘lead.’ With this collaboration, I believe we’re looking at ‘lead’ in the rearview mirror and we’re all about shaping the future,” says Dr. Aronson. “I think the creation of the Morpheus Consortium is one giant step toward that goal and that mission.”

“It is a great pleasure to join forces with our colleagues at University College London to improve patient outcomes and quality of life,” concludes Dr. Joseph Mathew, chairman of Duke’s Department of Anesthesiology. “The mixing of talent and leadership from two very innovative institutions will undoubtedly transform patient care, research and education. I am grateful to Professor Mythen (Duke alumnus) and his colleagues for their partnership in this shared vision of “changing the face of anesthesiology.”

Dr. Joseph Mathew, Dean Nancy Andrews, and Professor Monty Mythen

Dr. Joseph Mathew, Dean Nancy Andrews, and Professor Monty Mythen

Chris KeithSigning of the “Morpheus Consortium”