The Daily Dose • Friday, May 14, 2021

Bridging the Gap in Anesthesiology Research

Shari Fisher Hinds, RN, MSN, FNP

Junior faculty met for engaging informal conversations with established anesthesiologists in their area of expertise during the AUA Junior Faculty Networking Opportunity Sessions on the evening of May 14. Groups were kept to 10 participants so discussions could be more targeted and intimate. In one of these networking sessions, established anesthesiology researchers Jean-Francois Pittet, MD and Deepak Sharma, MBBS, MD, led a discussion on “Clinical and Human Subject Research,” outlining the challenges to finding support and funding for research in the field of anesthesiology.

Both experienced in facing obstacles in their research careers, Drs. Pittet and Sharma were able to provide context for the conversation.

Dr. Pittet is David Hill Chestnut Endowed Professor, and Director of Organ Injury and Trauma Research at University of Alabama in Birmingham School of Medicine, and also serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Anesthesia & Analgesia. He is particularly interested in how the development of coagulation abnormalities secondary to severe trauma or bacterial infection affects the development of short- and long-term end-organ injury.

Dr. Sharma is Chief of Neuroanesthesia and Perioperative Neuroscience, and Virginia & Prentice Bloedel Endowed Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine and Professor of Neurological Surgery at UW Medicine. His research expertise is in anesthesia for intracranial and spine surgery as well as interventional neuroradiology.

With the COVID-19 pandemic complicating the year, many trials have been difficult to enroll and funding has been challenging, they shared. However, a positive effect of the pandemic included the improved use of technology to allow communication between colleagues. This will hopefully allow for more frequent collaborations among experts in the field of research.  Suggestions for improved communication included more frequent casual research symposiums, composing electronic information resources to list research interests and collaborators, and more frequent video conferencing to share ideas.

A seeming consensus among participants was the need for a platform to build research momentum and interest. A suggestion rose from the discussion that the Association of University Anesthesiologists (AUA) might be able to play a key role in developing that platform. The AUA could help build a network of support across medical departments to foster communication, find strategic goals and share ideas in clinical research. 

One attendee, Miriam Treggiari, MD, PhD, MPH, from Yale School of Medicine, gave suggestions for initiating a clinical research program. These included first finding value in a particular area of research and starting small so that funding is easier to secure. Smaller studies help build a track record of accomplishments and prove that a trial can be run successfully. She emphasized the importance of bringing rigor to the area of clinical research and elevating new researchers in order to build a good research program within any organization.

Dr. Pittet stressed the need for the field of anesthesia to remain academic. Keeping innovation alive requires more interaction between departments in medicine and beyond, he emphasized. As a next step, he will continue this discussion with the AUA Scientific Advisory Board to brainstorm on possible ways to build a more collaborative network to bridge the gap between anesthesiology research and other medical specialties.

Other networking topics included work-life balance for academic anesthesiologists, mentorship and sponsorship, leadership development, education research, laboratory research, medical education, research on healthcare disparities focused on outcomes research and diversity, equity and inclusion.