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MISSION STATEMENT

Each year, hundreds of millions of patients undergo general anesthesia and surgery worldwide. Anesthesia, while generally safe, exposes patients to some of the most dangerous drugs used in clinical medicine. Some adverse events do occur during and after general anesthesia, which include prolonged cognitive deficits, respiratory depression, and even death. Our mission is to reduce the risk of adverse outcomes associated with general anesthesia and perioperative care through on-going research.

GOALS

To identify the receptors and networks underlying general anesthesia, in particular as it pertains to the impact on learning and memory, and to translate this knowledge into improvements in patient care.

In addition, we aim to identify new treatments for neurological and non-neurological disorders by targeting specific inhibitory neurotransmitter receptors. Our team first identified the unique properties of “extrasynaptic” inhibitory receptors (GABAA receptors). Subsequent studies have elucidated the key roles that these receptors play in cognitive dysfunction, seizures, and pain, as well as in lung disorders such as asthma. These studies have led to a new field of investigating the roles of extrasynaptic GABAA receptors in health and diseases, and the therapeutic potentials of these receptors.

SIGNIFICANCE

Given the broad use of general anesthesia and the serious consequences of some of the adverse effects following general anesthesia, it is essential to understand the underlying mechanisms of anesthetics and to develop strategies to reduce their adverse effects. Our research could provide new insights into these mechanisms which may be translated into improved patient care.

Our program is strongly committed to training high-quality research personnel and clinician-scientists who are interested in advancing peri- and post-operative medicine. We provide an excellent training environment since our research is a collaboration program and bridges many disciplines. Trainees, both past and present, have received many prestigious awards and scholarships. Many of our trainees have gone on to establish independent laboratories, pursue medical studies and establish themselves in the pharmaceutical industry.

KEYWORDS

General anesthesia, mechanism, translational research, learning and memory, pain, GABAA receptor, extrasynaptic, receptor targets