Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine >> Education >> Residency Training Bonica Scholars Program

Residency Training Program:
Bonica Scholars Program
Developing anesthesiology Leaders in Research and Innovation


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Overview and Introduction

Bonica Portrait

The University of Washington (UW) Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine is committed to training the future leaders in anesthesiology and perioperative medicine. As one of the top grant funded anesthesiology departments in the United States, our diverse research faculty are internationally renowned for their scholarship in numerous disciplines. These areas cover neuroscience, pharmacology, pain physiology, global perioperative health, health care economics, bioengineering, outcomes research, quality improvement, bioethics and many other inter-disciplinary areas of innovation.

The Bonica Scholars Research Program is a selective research residency track that fosters scientific discovery in anesthesiology and perioperative medicine. Our program is designed to provide world-class clinical and research training for exceptional individuals who desire a career in academic anesthesiology. We select up to two individuals a year through the residency match process.

The Bonica Scholars Research Program derives its name from Dr. John Bonica, a pioneer in pain medicine and the first chair of the Anesthesiology Department at UW. Widely considered the founding father of pain management, Dr. Bonica established the first multi-disciplinary pain center and authored more than 240 articles and the quintessential pain medicine textbook The Management of Pain. Continuing his research legacy, the Bonica Scholars Research Program is a five-year training opportunity for anesthesiology residents committed to a career in academic research. Our goal is to provide high quality clinical training, rigorous research instruction and comprehensive mentoring to support successful academic careers. A full description of the program is available at this link.

Timeline and Scholarship

The American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) allows for a maximum of 11 months of research time during the four required post-graduate years of anesthesiology residency training. Our flexible program allocates this research time starting in the first clinical base intern year and during the subsequent three years of clinical anesthesia (CA) training (see Table). We also provide up to $20,000 in research funding that can be used during the five-year program.

Research Allocation

This table shows the general allocation of research time during the post-graduate years (PGY), which includes a clinical base year (CBY), three clinical anesthesia (CA) years and a fifth year of research time. Fellowship training can be negotiated as the scholar progresses through the program.

Clinical and Research Training Facilities

Our department provides clinical residency training at our four main academic hospitals: University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC), Harborview Medical Center (HMC), Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) and the VA Puget Sound (VAPUG).

Photos of Clinical and Research Training Facilities

We have additional research facilities and faculty working at the University of Washington, School of Medicine South Lake Union, the University of Washington Main Campus adjacent to the UWMC, the Seattle Children’s Research Institute (SCRI) in downtown Seattle, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute.

Photos of Clinical and Research Training Facilities

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Core Research Areas

The UW Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine has four core focus areas of research across our hospitals and research institutions: pain medicine and neuroscience, mitochondrial biology and genomics, clinical outcomes and epidemiology and medical training and patient education.

Pain Medicine Research AreasOverview of Current Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine Research Areas

Many of our faculty collaborate with academic departments across UW, which received over $304 million in NIH funding in FY2019 and ranks among the best medical schools in the nation in both primary care and research. The UW Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine also ranks among the top NIH-funded anesthesiology departments in the US, and has been awarded a prestigious T32 NIH grant to support the development of clinician researchers.

Bonica Scholars can perform research in any of the centers listed above or collaborate with faculty in other departments at the UW or its many affiliates. Our goal is to expose scholars to research experiences that will facilitate identification of a research focus and begin the path towards research independence. In addition to research time, we provide grant writing seminars, journal clubs, work-in-progress seminars and a writer’s workshop for manuscripts in progress. Awarded a Clinical and Translational Science Award by the NIH, the UW has an Institute for Translational Health Sciences (ITHS), which hosts career development seminars and offers educational programs with possibility of formal degree award (MPH, MS, MSE, MSHS or PhD). These programs are available to Bonica Scholars during their five years of training.

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Selection Process

The Bonica Scholars are selected through the National Residency Match Process (NRMP) in March of each year. Residents are required to apply to the core residency program using the Electronic Resident Application Service (ERAS). Applicants are also required to complete a short additional Bonica Scholars application questionnaire about their research interests and career goals.

Bonica Scholars candidates will be selected for interview based on their accomplishments including: performance in medical school and undergraduate studies, USMLE (or equivalent) scores, prior research experience and success, leadership, volunteer and professional activities. Candidates will be invited to a questions and answer reception with members of the Bonica Scholars Oversight Committee, which is held 2-3 times during the interview season in conjunction with general resident interviews. In addition, candidates will be encouraged to meet and / or discuss their career goals and research interests with UW faculty members. Candidates will be evaluated based on their academic merit, previous experience and their performance during the interviews.

A rank order of candidates will be submitted to the NRMP (program number 1918040C2). Candidates for the Bonica Scholars Program are not excluded from applying for the general 4-year residency program or 5-year combined ICU program. We encourage interested candidates to rank the UW Anesthesiology residency program in addition to ranking the Bonica Scholars Research Program. Applications for the Bonica Scholars Research Program are accepted only through the NRMP system. Successful candidates will join the anesthesiology CBY in June after the match.

Program Oversight and Expectations

The Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, the Bonica Scholars Oversight Committee, and the Residency Program Director oversee the Bonica Scholars Program and the individual Bonica Scholar.

Oversight Committee Members
Dr. Michael Crowder, Department Chair
Dr. Karen Domino, Vice Chair for Clinical Research
Dr. Matt Hallman, Residency Program Director
Dr. Philip Morgan, Director for Research at SCH
Dr. Tonya Palermo, NIH T32 Fellowship Co-Director
Dr. Monica Vavilala, Vice Chair for Strategic Affairs
Dr. Margaret Sedensky, Vice Chair for Basic Research and
NIH T32 Fellowship Co-Director

In addition to the Bonica Scholars Oversight Committee, each Bonica Scholar has a clinical and a research mentoring team. Each scholar undergoes a formal annual review to assess academic progress. The Residency Program Director will have overall responsibility for scheduling the Bonica Scholars’ research time in a way that both meets the Bonica Scholar's academic needs and clinical training requirements.

In order to remain in good standing in the residency program, all residents (including the Bonica Scholar residents) must satisfy the essential requirements mandated by the ACGME, the ABA and the UW Anesthesiology residency program (described in detail in the UW Anesthesiology Resident Manual). Residents who enter the Bonica Scholars Program are required to maintain a high standard of clinical, professional and academic achievement. Specifically, Bonica Scholars residents must be at or above the ACGME and ABA milestone levels for their training year.

Current Bonica Scholars

Dr. Flora Li
Flora Li, MD, CA3

Flora Li, MD, PGY-5, Acting Instructor

Flora grew up in the Los Angeles area and came to the University of Washington after graduating from medical school at the University of California, San Diego. In medical school, she became interested in ultrasound and echocardiography and worked on a project using TTE to assess effects of epidurals and spinals on diastolic function in laboring women. At UW, she is currently working with Dr. Burkhard Mackensen on several projects utilizing intraoperative TEE data. These include using data from 3-D TEE to improve measurement of the left atrial appendage and sizing of left atrial appendage closure devices. She is also working on several projects examining peri-procedural left ventricular strain and its connection to functional outcomes in interventional cardiac procedures, including the Mitraclip procedure.

Dr. Kelly Michaelsen
Kelly Michaelsen, MD, PhD, CA2

Kelly Michaelsen, MD, PhD, CA3

Kelly grew up in Buffalo NY and completed her undergraduate, MD and PhD at Dartmouth College. Her PhD is in biomedical engineering, developing a breast imaging system combining x-ray tomosynthesis with near infrared light for improving noninvasive breast cancer detection with funding from the NIH F30 and the Radiological Society of North America. In anesthesia, she has studied quantitative train of four assessment techniques, building a device to measure force output from the thumb and compared it to existing and developing commercial devices to improve the technology.




Dr. Kelly Michaelsen
Mitra Heshmati, MD, PhD, CA1

Mitra Heshmati, MD, PhD, CA2

Mitra is a graduate of the Medical Scientist Training Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. She completed her PhD dissertation under the supervision of Scott J. Russo, PhD. Her studies focused on inhibitory synaptic plasticity in the nucleus accumbens after chronic social stress in a mouse model, utilizing viral-mediated gene transfer, electrophysiology and behavioral tools to investigate cell-type specific circuits. Her work was supported by an NIMH F30 grant.

Mitra is continuing to study mesolimbic dopamine circuitry as a Bonica scholar in the laboratory of Michael Bruchas, PhD. Her project focuses on the role of dopaminergic signaling in promoting emergence from anesthesia, comparing effects of commonly used intravenous and inhalational anesthetics, using in vivo fiber photometry and neural circuit dissection in mice. In the future, she plans to continue developing relevant translational models to further a mechanistic understanding of mesolimbic circuits engaged in anesthesia and pain states that will advance both clinical anesthesiology and basic neuroscience. Here is a link to Mitra's publications on Google Scholar


Dr. Kelly Michaelsen
Kevin Su, MD, PhD, CBY

Kevin Su, MD, PhD, CA1

Kevin was born raised in Taipei, Taiwan and did his undergraduate studies at Duke University. As a Howard Hughes Research Fellow at Duke, he studied the role of a novel group of kinesins in meiosis, and in particular, its implications in chromosomal missegregation. He went on to pursue a dual MD-PhD degree at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Yale University.

Holding strong interest in cardiac pathophysiology, Kevin served as a research fellow for the NIH-supported Cardiothoracic Surgical Trials Network, where he designed and implemented a multi-center study that evaluated various management practices that increase patients’ infection risks following cardiac surgery. For his doctoral thesis, Kevin researched the role of the LKB1-AMPK stress signaling pathway in arrhythmogenesis and was awarded the Gruber Science Fellowship for his work in atrial electrophysiology. In his free time, Kevin enjoys sweating it out in fun group fitness classes on weekdays and exploring the great outdoors on weekends. As a Bonica Scholar, Kevin is excited to explore research opportunities at the Mitochondria and Metabolism Center.


Dr. Kelly Michaelsen
David Young, MD, PhD, CBY

David Young, MD, PhD, CA1

Dave grew up in Reno, Nevada, where he completed an undergraduate degree in biochemistry at the University of Nevada, Reno. As an undergraduate, and for two years afterwards, he worked with Dr. Tamas Ordog, studying gene expression and drug response in the stem cells that give rise to Interstitial Cells of Cajal, the pacemakers of the gut and precursors of a neoplasm called a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). Before starting the Bonica residency track, he completed his MD and PhD at the University of Washington. During graduate school, he worked with Professor Stanley Fields in the Department of Genome Sciences to develop and apply high throughput methods for functionally characterizing genetic variation within synthesized libraries of mutants, using these new assays to study cancer susceptibility genes as well as more general questions about protein folding, evolution, and genetic interactions. His research interests remain broad, but he is particularly interested in the biased agonism, or qualitative intracellular signaling differences, among mu opiod receptor agonists, as well as the potential diagnostic utility of a variety of nucleic acid based assays in critically ill patients.

Dr. Philip Chung
Philip Chung, MD, CBY

Philip Chung, MD, CBY

Philip grew up in Los Angeles, CA. He obtained his undergraduate degree at University of California, Berkeley in Bioengineering. He then completed the UC Berkeley-UC San Francisco Masters in Translational Medicine program during which he kickstarted a Gates Foundation-funded project to develop a device for detecting early preterm birth. He then went on to medical school at University of California, San Francisco and took a 1-year hiatus to work at Google AI Healthcare. As a Bonica Scholar, areas of interest include medical informatics, natural language processing and deep learning.


Dr. Miles Fontenot
Miles Fontenot, MD, PhD, CBY

Miles Fontenot, MD, PhD, CBY

Miles grew up near Houston, TX before attending UT Austin as an undergraduate. He then went on to UT Southwestern, where he completed his neuroscience PhD in the genomics of human brain evolution with Dr. Gena Konopka. Moving forward, he is interested in basic neuroscience and pain research. In his free time, Miles enjoys rock climbing, hiking, music, and hanging out with his dog Travis.





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Bonica Scholars Alumni

Class of 2019

Dr. Jordan Starr

Jordan Starr, MD

Jordan Starr, MD

At the University of Washington, Jordan used national VA data to identify medications associated with reduced persistent postoperative opioid use. He also used a large, national insurance database to quantify the growth in utilization of lumbar medial branch nerve radiofrequency ablation (RFA), as well as outcomes after the procedure. This work coincided with a prospective feasibility study for a placebo-controlled trial of RFA. He is currently a pain medicine fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.



Thank you for your interest
in the Bonica Scholars Research Program

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Please call or email if you need additional information or assistance at 206-543-2474 or

Our program is indexed on the AMA's Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database (FREIDA). Go to FREIDA and search for our program using our 10-digit identifier: 0405421161

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