Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine >> Administration >> Faculty News & Awards

Faculty News and Awards

Faculty at the University of Washington come from all over the world to teach, learn new techniques and conduct research. Faculty have offices and labs in many of the city's hospitals. They have a wide range of interests and residents are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to learn varied approaches to anesthesia practice.

The Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine is pleased to highlight a few of the recent accomplishments by its faculty.

January 2017

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Dr. Wil Van Cleve

Congratulations, Dr. Wil Van Cleve!

Wil Van Cleve, MD Assistant Professor; Associate Program Director & Director of Curriculum, UWMC — Dr. Van Cleve has been selected by the UW Medical Center to receive the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award. This award honors individuals or groups who exemplify Martin Luther King’s principles through:

  • Commitment to addressing community needs, particularly communities of color and low income;
  • Development and implementation of significant programs to improve the human condition;
  • Outstanding efforts to protect and empower all individuals.

The award was presented at the UWMC Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration on Thursday, January 12.

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Dr. First Last

Congratulations, Dr. Bala Nair!

Bala Nair, PhD Research Associate Professor, UWMC — Effective July 1st, Dr. Nair, was appointed Director for the new Center for Perioperative and Pain Quality, Safety and Outcomes.

Dr. Crowder’s vision is to create a center that improves the clinical outcomes of UW Medicine perioperative and pain management care.

Bala and his team will develop and employ informatics tools and technology to define determinants of quality, safety, and patient outcomes and to impact positively those

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Dr. Tonya Palermo

Congratulations, Dr. Tonya Palermo!

Tonya Palermo, PhD, Professor and Principal Investigator, Center for Child Health, Behavior & Development, Seattle Children's Research Institute, Seattle.

Dr. Tonya Palermo recently received an RO1 grant from NIH/NICHD:
R01HD086978-01A1, MPI: Palermo, Dampier, Stinson,  09/01/2016 – 08/31/2021

Award total: $2,398,788.

The objectives of this study are to improve pain self-management and functioning in youth with sickle cell disease by developing and testing a tailored web and smartphone-based application (iCanCope with SCD).​

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Dr. Phil Morgan
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Dr. Margaret Sedensky

Congratulations, Drs. Morgan & Sedensky!

Phil G. Morgan, MD, Professor, Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, SCH & Margaret M. Sedensky, MD Professor, Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, UWMC — On their new NIH Grant Award from the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences — Title: “Anesthetic Neurotoxicity is Controlled by ER-stress” | PI: Phil Morgan | Co-PI’s: Marge Sedensky & Nino Ramirez | Budget: $1.6 million over 4 years. | Specific Aims: (1) Test the effects of isoflurane on mTOR activation and ER-stress in the mouse; (2) Test rapamycin in mice for prevention of anesthetic neurotoxicity; (3) Perform a high throughput small molecule screen for inhibitors of anesthetic neurotoxicity.



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Dr. First Last

Congratulations, Dr. Monica Vavilala!

Monica Vavilala, MD, P.I., — Professor of Anesthesiology & Pediatrics; Director, Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center (HIPRC), Recently Received Grants:

  1. “Return to Learn after Concussion” — Seattle Children’s Research Institute: $26,000
  2. “Developing TBI Education for the State” — Washington State Department of Health: $11,000
  3. “Strategies to Reduce Worker Injuries” — The Boeing Company: $86,000

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Dr. Chi Fung Lee

Congratulations, Dr. Chi Fung Lee!

Chi Fung Lee, PhD — Acting Instructor, Dr. Rong Tian's Lab, South Lake Union, was recently awarded a Scientist Development grant from the American Heart Association in the amount of $210,000. Grant Period: 01/01/2017-12/31/2019.
Project Title: The Roles of Protein Acetylation in SR Calcium Homeostasis and
Diastolic Function

October – December 2016

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Dr. Michele Curatolo

Congratulations, Dr. Michele Curatolo, Co-Investigator!

Michele Curatolo, MD, PhD Professor, Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, UWMC, was recently notified of an award from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Project: “Urinary Stone Disease Research Network: Clinical Centers (USDRN-CCs) (Collaborative U01)”

Aims − Dr. Curatolo’s part: 1) To characterize the symptom burden of ureteral stents and evaluate strategies for reducing stent-related pain, symptoms and bother; 2) To identify mechanisms of stent related pain and urinary bother.

Period of funding: September 2016 – August 2021. | Award total: $3,352,305.

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Dr. Vincent Hsieh

Congratulations, Dr. Vincent Hsieh!

Vincent Hsieh, MD, Assistant Professor at Seattle Children's Hospital, has received an Academic Enrichment Fund award of $25,000 from the Center for Clinical & Translational Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute; in support of his research on “Validation of biomarker for anesthesia-induced brain injury in infants.” Dr Hsieh is an Assistant Professor at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

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Dr. Srdjan Jelacic
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Dr. T. Andrew Bowdle
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Dr. Bala Nair

Congratulations, Drs. Srdjan Jelacic, T. Andrew Bowdle and Bala Nair!


Srdjan Jelacic, MD, T. Andrew Bowdle, MD, PhD and Bala Nair, PhD — “The Use of Routine Video Surveillance of the Entire Operating Room to Identify Specific Hazards and Analyze Sentinel Events from Cardiothoracic and Vascular Procedures”

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Dr. Nick Kassebaum

Congratulations, Dr. Nick Kassebaum!

Nick Kassebaum, MD, Assistant Professor at Seattle Children's Hostpial — The following is taken from The New York Times, September 21, 2006:

Dr. Nick Kassebaum quoted—By Sabrina Travernise (Dr Kassebaum is an Assistant Professor at Seattle Children’s Hospital) Maternal Mortality Rate in U.S. Rises, Defying Global Trend, Study Finds

WASHINGTON — One of the biggest worldwide public health triumphs in recent years has been maternal mortality. Global death rates fell by more than a third from 2000 to 2015. The United States, however, is one of the few countries in the world that have gone against the grain, new data show. Its maternal mortality rate has risen despite improvements in health care and an overwhelming global trend in the other direction. The United States has become an outlier among rich nations in maternal deaths, according to data released Wednesday by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, a research group funded by the Gates Foundation and based at the University of Washington. There were 28 maternal deaths — defined as deaths due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth — per 100,000 births in the United States in 2013, up from 23 in 2005, the institute found. The rate in 2013, the most recent year for which the institute had detailed data for the United States, was more than triple Canada’s. The institute is projecting that the American rate dipped in the last two years to 25 by 2015. Increases were extremely rare among rich countries. In all, 24 countries had one from 2000 to 2015, including South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, though their rates were much higher. America’s increase put it above a number of poorer countries whose rates had declined with the global trend, including Iran, Vietnam, Russia and Romania. In all, the American rate was up by more than half since 1990, according to the institute, which uses many data sources, including countries’ vital records systems, to calculate hundreds of health measures. The findings are part of a gathering body of evidence on the dismal numbers for maternal mortality among American women and how they keep getting worse. This summer, a group of researchers published an analysis that found that the maternal mortality rate had increased by 27 percent for 48 states and the District of Columbia from 2000 to 2014. In Texas, analyzed separately, it had nearly doubled. Another analysis this month looked at increases by state and found particularly high rates in the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Georgia and Arkansas, especially among black women. (The absolute rate can vary by data set, but the upward trend has been clear.)

How is it that the United States, a country with some of the most cutting-edge medical treatments, has some of the worst maternal mortality rates in the developed world? Most people imagine maternal mortality as 19th-century-style deaths such as hemorrhage in childbirth or death from eclampsia, a condition involving high blood pressure. Those types of deaths still happen, but their rate has not changed much. Instead, the increase in recent years has been driven by heart problems and other chronic medical conditions, like diabetes, which has increased sharply in the population. Researchers have theorized that an increase in obesity — particularly acute among poor black women, who have much higher rates of maternal mortality than whites — may be contributing to the problem. “The really scary thing to us is all the deaths from cardiovascular disease and heart failure,” said Dr. William Callaghan, who runs the Maternal and Infant Health Branch in the Division of Reproductive Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It’s a quarter of all deaths. There were almost none in the remote past.” Maternal deaths are notoriously hard to count. There is often not enough detail on a death certificate to tell if the death was related to pregnancy. For example, if a woman dies from heart failure six months after she gives birth, it can sometimes take a special analysis to determine if it was pregnancy related (deaths can be counted up to a year after birth, though the vast majority happen in the first six weeks). In 2003, the federal government asked states to report in the same way, and most eventually complied. Some have argued that the United States simply keeps better track now, counting deaths that would not have been included before. But federal health officials say the increase s more than just accounting. “The rise is real,” Dr. Callaghan said. Maternal mortality was relatively flat in the 1980s and 1990s, and most experts agree that the increases began around 2000. The trend has puzzled researchers and prompted a number of states to start maternal death review boards, groups of experts who sift through the deaths and consider policy changes that might reduce them. Such boards, used in Australia, Britain and a number of other European countries, are considered crucial in understanding, and potentially reversing, the trend. But only about half the states have them.

“The first time I saw our results for the United States, I thought there must be some error,” said Dr. Nicholas J. Kassebaum, an assistant professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, who is the director of maternal and child health research at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. “I actually started looking for what went wrong in the data processing.” Dr. Kassebaum said it was possible that the United States was simply ahead of other rich countries in the fallout from its obesity epidemic and that chronic conditions could eventually figure more prominently into the maternal mortality numbers of other countries, too. The American health system is good at handling life-threatening situations during birth, such as hemorrhage, he said, but chronic conditions are different. “It can be tricky to track down what will trigger major complications such as heart failure or a blocked artery,” he said, pointing out that women of childbearing age are by definition young and very unlikely to die at all, never mind of a chronic condition. Nor was the new trend of increased pregnancy rates in older women the main driver. Dr. Kassebaum said that he did find a substantial increase in maternal mortality among women 45 and older, but that there had been increases in all age groups.

Eugene Declercq, a professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health who has tracked maternal mortality for years, said the racial disparities in the American rates were deeply troubling, but only part of the story. “People may think this is happening because the U.S. has more minorities and poor people,” he said. “But even if you limit the analysis to whites, we would still rank behind all other industrialized countries.”

May – September 2016

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Dr. Tonya Palermo

Congratulations, Dr. Tonya Palermo!

Tonya Palermo, PhD, Professor and Principal Investigator, Center for Child Health, Behavior & Development, Seattle Children's Research Institute, Seattle.

Dr. Tonya Palermo was selected as new editor of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology (the flagship journal in her field).

She will serve as Editor-elect starting January 1, 2017, followed by a 5 year term as Editor, 2018-2022.

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Dr. Michele Curatolo!

Congratulations, Dr. Michele Curatolo!

Michele Curatolo, MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, was appointed associate editor of Pain, the top ranked journal in pain medicine.

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Dr. Wang Wang
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Dr. Rong Tian

Congratulations, Drs. Wang Wang and Rong Tian!

Wang, Wang, MD, PhD and Rong Tian, MD, PhD — Dr. Wang’s and Tian’s review article was featured on the cover of Science Translational Medicine.

Wang W, Karamanlidis G, Tian R: Novel targets for mitochondrial medicine. Sci Transl Med. 2016 Feb 17;8(326):326rv3.

This article describes emerging mechanisms in mitochondrial biology, including protein modification, calcium ion transport, and dynamics, as potential targets for next-generation therapies.

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Dr. David Tauben
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Dr. Michele Curatolo
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Dr. Brian Theodore
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Dr. Ardith Doorenbos

Congratulations, Division of Pain Medicine!

David Tauben, MD, Michele Curatolo, MD, PhD, Brian Theodore, PhD (Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine), and Ardith Doorenbos PhD, RN (Department of Biobehavioral Nursing & Health Systems) were awarded a two-year $140,000 grant from the Mayday Fund.

The grant will explore low-cost management after spine surgery through patient educational videos,TeleCoaching and outcomes with the use of PainTracker.

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Dr. Gary Walco

Congratulations, Dr. Gary Walco!

Gary Walco, PhD, Professor & Director of Pain Medicine, Seattle Children's Hospital.

“Training of pediatric pain specialists was one of the major topics at the Pediatric Anesthesia Leadership Council meeting held in early April this year in Colorado Springs. This is a large group of Department Directors from the US and Canada. Currently 3 programs (Boston Children’s, Medical College of Wisconsin Children’s, and Cincinnati Children’s) have ACGME approved programs for advanced training in Pediatric Pain. Beginning next academic year, we will be the fourth. Combined, these programs will graduate approximately 4-7 pediatric pain specialists every year. This is significantly below the national demand as virtually every program represented at the PALC was wanting to add pediatric pain faculty in order to meet a growing and unmet demand for service.

If you did not have the opportunity to read the Op-Ed piece in the Seattle Times on April 5, 2016, by Gary Walco, the link to the website that has the full story is as follows:

I want to thank Gary both for his advocacy for improving the care of children with pain both by using public media to raise awareness of inequities in national policies and agendas and by working tirelessly with leaders in UW Medicine, the UW GME Office and SCH to secure all the necessary support to allow us to continue our legacy as a department committed to preventing and treating pain in children.” (From Dr. Jeremy Geiduschek’s April 10th electronic newsletter.)

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Dr. Daniel Rubens

Congratulations, Dr. Daniel Rubens!

Daniel Rubens, MBBS, FANZCA, Associate Professor, Seattle Children's Hospital.

“Dr. Daniel Rubens was featured in the Seattle Times on April 19th. Many of us have been fortunate to be able to follow along on Dan’s trail looking for the cause of SIDS. For those receiving this newsletter who are new to our department, this all started with an idea that Dan published in a manuscript titled “Are lethal audiogenic seizures a missing link to the sudden infant death syndrome?” (Med Hypotheses. 2004;63(1):87-91.) This is just one of many great examples of work done by members of our department that started with a question which leads to a year’s-long dogged pursuit of answers that also generate new and more complex questions. Being able to ask the questions, discuss the possibilities with colleagues, and pursue the answers are just a few of the great reasons to work in academic medicine. Congratulations to Dan on embarking on the next steps of this incredible journey.” The following link will take you to the site that contains the full story from the Times:”
(From Dr. Jeremy Geiduschek’s April 24th electronic newsletter.)

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Dr. Jennifer Rabbitts

Congratulations, Dr. Jennifer Rabbitts!

Jennifer Rabbitts, MB ChB — In April, Dr. Jennifer Rabbitts was awarded the Scan Design Foundation Innovative Pain Research Grant for her project entitled: “Development of an Internet-Delivered Psychosocial Intervention to Improve Postsurgical Pain and Health Outcomes in Youth Having Major Surgery.” This is a one year grant providing $50,000 to support the research study.

Dr. Rabbitts also received the American Pain Society 2016 Future Leaders Award — Pain Research Grant: “Understanding family psychological needs to prevent postsurgical pain in children,” at the 35th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Pain Society in May. In addition, she received recognition for her abstract: “Temporal daily associations among sleep and pain in treatment-seeking youth with acute musculoskeletal pain complaints. (A Lewandowski, J Rabbitts, L Durkin, C Zhou, T Palermo: S1526-5900(16)00034-1/pdf)

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Dr. Rong Tian

Congratulations, Dr. Rong Tian!

Rong Tian, MD, PhD, Professor & Director, Mitochondria & Metabolism Center, South Lake Union, has been selected by the British Society for Cardiovascular Research to receive the prestigious Bernard and Joan Marshall Distinguished Investigator Award. The award will be presented during the BSCR Autumn Meeting 2017 at the University of Oxford. Dr. Tian will be the keynote speaker at the meeting, where the theme will be Cardiac Metabolic Disorders and Mitochondrial Dysfunction.

In addition, Dr. Tian has also been selected as the recipient of the 2017 Research Achievement Award of the International Society for Heart Research (ISHR). This award recognizes an internationally prominent investigator with a sustained and distinguished record of major scientific achievements in the field of cardiovascular research. Awardees will have already had, and are expected to have, a major impact on our understanding and/or treatment of cardiovascular disease.

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Dr. Jake Sunshine
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Dr. Sam Sharar
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Dr. Ali Mokdad

Congratulations, Drs. Jake Sunshine, Sam Sharar and Ali Mokdad!

These doctors have received notice of an award from the Foundation of Anesthesia Education Research for a Mentored Research Training Grant.

Title: Trauma Anesthesia Care: an Analysis of Motor Vehicle Crash Management, Risk Factors and Costs

Mentors: Sam Sharar and Ali Mokdad

Two year early faculty award for $175,000

11 funded this year and the only health services grant funded.

Previous UW FAER Faculty Awardees – Lori Lee 2004, Greg Terman 1992, Sam Sharar and Ken Mackie - 1991

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