Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine >> Education >> T32 Research Fellowship

Fellowship Training Program:
T32 Research Fellowship


The University of Washington Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine offers a program of research fellowship through an institutional grant (National Research Service Award T32 GM086270) to develop clinician-scientists at the postdoctoral level of training. As such it offers remarkable opportunities to develop a research career within a very diverse range of interests. Mentors have been recruited from throughout the university, and represent a very broad spectrum of research interests. The long term goal of our program is to train clinician scientists who will be the future leaders in innovative research in academic anesthesiology.

The specific aims of this training program are to:

  1. Recruit outstanding postdoctoral trainees from a national applicant pool, with attention to diversity in academic backgrounds, race/ethnicity, disability, and gender.
  2. Provide trainees with interdisciplinary theories and methods pertinent to their research area spanning basic, clinical, translational, population, and health services research.
  3. Create a supportive environment through strong mentorship, a breadth of research opportunities, and collaboration across departments.


Curriculum Objectives

The objective of the curriculum is to create a practical research experience that allows each trainee to answer a distinct research question involving anesthesiology and perioperative medicine under the tutelage of a committed, experienced research mentor. In order to gain the skills necessary to conduct research in anesthesiology, program didactics offer a series of skill building workshops and research seminars. These didactics are intended to enhance scholarly presentation and publication of scientific work, to build knowledge of different research methodologies, and to provide practical skills to foster success in grant writing.

There are four core elements of the curriculum:

  • Experience in the mentor’s lab
  • Program didactics
  • Preparation of a research grant application
  • Attendance at national meetings and inter-laboratory training

Each trainee will receive a minimum of two years of intensive research training, with the opportunity to extend to a third training year. While the experience in the mentor’s laboratory is intended to provide practical research instruction in the specific area of interest within anesthesiology and perioperative medicine, the additional program curriculum will extend research training as detailed below. Exposure to research mentors from different disciplines through program didactics is an important aspect of our unique research training environment.

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Core Research Areas

Our T32 training requires a commitment on the part of the applicant to actively engage in two to three years of rigorous training in an area of his/her choosing, under the tutelage of an NIH funded mentor. The fellow is afforded the opportunity to work with a world class researcher from the large community of scientists within the University of Washington. Applicants are guided through the choice of a mentor by the core research leaders and program directors. Participating faculty come from both within the Department of Anesthesiology (See UW Anesthesiology Faculty Research Labs) as well as from 15 different departments at UW.

Approximately 50 faculty have agreed to participate in the training program. The six core research areas and the corresponding research leader for each area is listed below.

Research Area

Core Research Leader

Number Participating Faculty
Cardiovascular-Pulmonary Biology Rong Tian, MD, PhD, Professor of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine 13
Clinical Outcomes Research & Epidemiology Monica Vavilala, MD, Professor, Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine 13
Genome Sciences & Bioinformatics Margaret Sedensky, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine 12
Neurosciences Phil Morgan, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, Director, Program in Mitochondrial Biology 8
Pain Tonya Palermo, PhD, Professor of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine 8
Pharmacology Charles Chavkin, PhD, Allan and Phyllis Treuer Professor of Pharmacology, Director, Center for Drug Addiction Research 6

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Trainees participate in T32 program didactics once a month. Program didactics are open to current trainees, T32 alumni, other departmental postdoctoral fellows, and research faculty and staff. The schedule rotates between four seminars:

  1. Writer’s Workshop
  2. Grant Writing Seminar
  3. Journal Club
  4. Work-in-Progress Seminar

We presently meet monthly on Fridays from 2 to 4 p.m. See the 2020-21 Didactic schedule [click here to download].

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Training Directors

T32 Research Fellows
Tonya Palermo, Ph.D.

Tonya Palermo, Ph.D.

Professor, Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine
Principal Investigator, Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development

Dr. Tonya Palermo is Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at University of Washington with adjunct appointments in Pediatrics and Psychiatry. Dr. Palermo has served as the Program Director of the T32 Anesthesiology Postdoctoral Research Training Program since 2012. She also directs the Psychology Postdoctoral Fellowship in Pediatric Pain Research. Dr. Palermo is an Associate Editor for the Clinical Journal of Pain and for the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Dr. Palermo serves on the Executive Boards of Division 54 of the American Psychological Association and of the American Pain Society. Dr. Palermo serves as a regular member of an NIH study section, Behavioral Medicine Interventions and Outcomes. Dr. Palermo has a NIH-funded research program in innovations in pediatric pain and sleep research. She is specifically interested in cognitive-behavioral treatment, delivery of psychological treatment via the internet, treatment of insomnia, and the influence of parent and family factors. She has published over 120 peer-reviewed articles and a book on cognitive-behavioral therapy for chronic pain in children and adolescents. Learn about the focus of her lab here.

T32 Research Fellows
Margaret Sedensky, M.D.

Margaret Sedensky, M.D.

Professor, Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine

Dr. Margaret Sedensky, MD is Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine and has served as the Associate Program Director of the T32 Program since 2008. Her laboratory is located at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and uses genetic approaches in the nematode C. elegans to investigate molecular mechanisms of volatile anesthetic action. Dr. Sedensky has established that specific cellular and mitochondrial membrane proteins are crucial in controlling the sensitivity of C. elegans to volatile anesthetics. She has now extended these findings in mammals, and is pursuing a mouse model relating mitochondrial disease to behavior in volatile anesthetics. Her laboratory has nearly three decades of NIH funding in basic science and translational studies. Dr. Sedensky has trained numerous students in her laboratory, including PhD genetics graduate students as well as MD/PhD students, post-docs, and medical fellows. She has trained K awardees, and many students now hold academic positions both in the US and abroad. She is a member of the FAER Academy of Research Mentors in Anesthesiology, and has been a member of the AUA for over 20 years. Learn about the focus of her lab here.

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T32 Research Fellows
Dustin Long, MD

Current Trainees

Dustin Long, MD

Faculty mentor: Stephen Salipante, MD, PhD
Dr. Dustin Long is an anesthesiologist and intensivist at Harborview Medical Center. He received his MD from the University of California, San Francisco and completed his residency in anesthesiology at Massachusetts General Hospital prior to fellowship training in critical care medicine at the University of Washington. Dr. Long’s research is focused on applications of next-generation sequencing technology in the prevention of healthcare-associated infections such as surgical site infection. This work utilizes data derived from bacterial whole genome sequencing, human microbiome profiling, and analysis of perioperative electronic medical records to develop personalized approaches to infection prevention.



T32 Research Fellows
Elisabeth Powelson, MSc, MD

Lis Powelson, MSc, MD

Elisabeth Powelson is an attending anesthesiologist at Harborview Medical Center and works at the University of Washington Center for Pain Relief. She attended the University of California San Francisco and University of California Berkeley Joint Medical Program for her Masters Degree and MD. She completed residency in anesthesiology as well as a fellowship in chronic pain management at University of Washington. Her research interest is in the transition from acute to chronic pain after surgical insult. This work utilizes retrospective data from national databases as well as prospective data collected within our healthcare system. She hopes to one day be able to help develop interventions to decrease the incidence of chronic pain.

T32 Research Fellows
Kira Spencer  PhD

Kira Spencer, PhD

Dr. Kira Spencer is a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. She earned her PhD in neuroscience from the University of California, Davis, completing her dissertation work in the Institute for Pediatric and Regenerative Medicine at Shriners Children’s Hospital in Sacramento, CA. Dr. Spencer’s research interests include neurodevelopment and metabolism. Her current work is investigating molecular mechanisms underlying anesthesia in a mouse model of the mitochondrial disease, Leigh Syndrome. She has two projects, one examining anesthetic action in the spinal cord and the second studying the role of astrocytes in emergence from anesthesia.


T32 Alumni

Training Opportunities

We have three positions annually on the training grant for T32 fellows. The T32 fellowship guarantees 80% protected time to the trainee to pursue research. The stipend for salary is commensurate with previous training using the NIH salary scale. Most trainees maintain a one day per week commitment to clinical work (maximum 20% overall effort) as an attending.


All trainees, in accordance with NIH regulations, must be citizens of the U.S. or a permanent resident of the U.S., i.e., holding an Alien Registration Receipt Card. Our T32 program and the University of Washington encourages applications from under-represented minorities, from people with disabilities, as well as from people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Applicants must have received an M.D. or comparable degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution. Preference is given to board eligible anesthesiologists who wish to pursue training in research at the end of their residency that is relevant to their clinical interests.

Application Process and Questions

We currently have several openings. Please see Call for Applications.

Applicants must complete: an application form; a short description of research interests and career goals that outlines a proposed course of future research, a CV, and three letters of recommendation.


Applications are due by January 15.

Download the T32 Research Fellowship application. (pdf)

Contact us:

Tonya M. Palermo, PhD:
Margaret M. Sedensky, MD:

Program Directors, T32 Research Fellowship

We are committed to diversity in the T32 program. The Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) supports the University’s compliance with the law and spirit of equal opportunity and affirmative action as it relates to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, citizenship, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam-era veteran, or other protected veterans. Please see UW Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) at