Message from the Chair

By Joseph P. Mathew, MD, MHSc, MBA


FOR MOST OF US, 2020 has been a year of change like none other. The COVID pandemic challenged us in ways we could never have imagined but the reality is that we are likely to see more change in the next couple of years than in the past decade. While we all have a natural tendency to fear these changes, we must also recognize that with change comes great opportunity. As one example, virtual health (and education) is here to stay but we should also be asking the associated question to such a change, “How can we make it better?” We would be wise to heed Pauline Kezer’s words, “Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.”

This has also been a remarkable year for the department starting with the incredible effort put forth by all our faculty, trainees, nurses, and staff in providing excellent care for our patients through a season of challenges that were more often than not, volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. We owe our clinicians, in particular, our deepest gratitude for working the front-lines and leading through the crisis. In a similar vein, our educators creatively adapted to the distancing restrictions and maintained the high standards of Duke Anesthesiology. Finally, our researchers achieved new heights with the receipt of the first Program Project Grant awarded to the department in 40 years and a #5 NIH ranking, marking the first time that our department has ranked among the top five. This national ranking is a tribute to our late vice chair for research, William “Bill” Maixner, whose vision and tireless efforts were key to our success.

As you look forward and more so because of the fog of persistent challenges, may I encourage all of you to embrace each new day with HOPE and joy!


Joseph P. Mathew