Developmental Neurobiology

Our research in this area investigates two general topics: the physiology and pharmacology of the brain during anesthesia, surgery and certain diseases such as autism, and neuronal plasticity and brain cell death following drug exposure (neurotoxicity), hypoxic-ischemia events, epilepsy and other insults in the immature central nervous systems.

Our mechanistic and translational oriented studies aim to understand how anesthesia and certain diseases alter brain function, prevent hypoxic-ischemic brain damage, drug induced injury and seizures in critically ill infants, and to develop therapies to promote recovery (plasticity). Researchers are using infant animal models that simulate the clinical situation and apply molecular, cellular and behavioral techniques to study mechanisms and develop treatments in reductionistic systems such as tissue explants and cell culture.

Faculty Investigators: Steve Danzer, PhD, George Istaphanous, MD, David Richards, PhD, Christopher Ward, M.D. Dean Kurth, MD, John McAuliffe, MD.
Support Staff: Raymond Pun, PhD, Jie Wang, PhD, John McCann, Bernadin Joseph, Beth Albers, Hulian Yin, Christian Faulkner
Graduate Students: Brian Murphy, Mike Hester and Isaiah Rolle

Developmental Pharmacology

Our research in this area investigates the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and pharmacogenetics of anesthetic and analgesic drugs in fetus, infants, children and adolescents. These studies evaluate the genetic and disease-related contributions to patient response to pediatric anesthesia and pain management drugs, with the long-term goal of personalizing drug dosing rather than basing drug dosing on population studies. Researchers measure drug levels in patients using MS, HPLC, and RIA to characterize the pharmacokinetics and relate the drug levels to variations in physiological response to the drug (pharmacodynamics) and variations in single nucleotide polymorphisms (pharmacogenetics). Studies are conducted in premature infants receiving opioids, healthy and ill children receiving opioids or propofol for surgery, fetal surgery patients receiving intravenous anesthesia, and in a sheep model of fetal surgery/anesthesia.

Faculty Investigators: Senthil Sadhasivam, MD, Vidya Chidambaran, MD, Pornswan Ngamprasertwong, MD, Sander Vinks, PhD
Support Staff: Hope Goodman, Carolyn Smith, Lindsay Schultz

Safety and Outcomes

This area of our research evaluates the effectiveness of new drugs and devices in children receiving anesthesia, sedation, neuromonitoring and pain management services. Researchers are developing technologies to monitor tissue oxygenation and perfusion, cardiopulmonary function, and blood constituents during surgery and in the intensive care unit after surgery; their goal is to improve outcome, reduce morbidity and enhance survival. Researchers are also comparing anesthesia or sedation techniques on quality of care in children undergoing diagnostic tests in radiology, neuromonitoring and gastroenterology. We are examining best practices on an organizational basis for children receiving anesthesia and pain management through clinical trials and health services studies. And our researchers are studying satisfaction, quality of care and economic indicators of anesthesia pre-operative preparation processes in a large population of children.

Investigators: Anna Varughese, MD, Nancy Hagerman, MD, Mohamed Mahmoud, MD, Mario Patino, MD, Joel Gunter, MD, Matthias Konig, MD, Fay Jou, M.D. Erica Lin, MD, John McAuliffe M.D. Dean Kurth M.D.,Jun Wu, MD, Alex Szabova, MD
Support staff: Meghan Schmitt, Jessica Wessler

Assessment of Proficiency

This area of research examines the components of knowledge and skill that determine the level of proficiency for procedures performed in clinical care. We conduct studies in the simulation lab and in-situ using video and direct observation and interrogation of the students, trainees and staff. These studies will enable a deeper and more efficient method of education for clinicians, as well as promote a higher level of clinical performance.

Investigators: Paul Samuels, MD, Alex Matveevski, MD, David Moore MD, Smokey Clay MD, Senthil Sadhasivam, MD.