Spotlight on Research

February 2024

Rui Li, wearing an orange jacket, stands with Mt. Rainier in the background.


Rui Li, PhD is a pain epidemiologist and a newly appointed Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine. Dr. Li is currently building a research program that aims to integrate developmental considerations and sex and gender-specific factors to prevent the occurrence and reduce the public health impact of chronic pain. With a keen interest in addressing pain in women and children, her long-term goal is to prevent the development of chronic pain in young people and reduce sex and gender disparities in pain across the lifespan.  

Dr. Li grew up in a small seaside town in Zhejiang Province, China. With a heart deeply rooted in her childhood experiences, where the hardship and strength of the women around her—especially her mother—left a lasting imprint, Dr. Li is always fascinated with understanding the struggles and resilience of females. As the first in her family to attend college, she completed a 5-year bachelor’s degree in preventive medicine from Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine and School of Public Health, where she gained broad exposure to basic science, clinical medicine, applied public health work, and research methodology. This has laid the groundwork for her long-term commitment to evidence-based prevention research. Dr. Li furthered her education with a PhD in epidemiology from the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry in Upstate New York, where she received in-depth training in population-based and clinical research methodology. Her dissertation work, motivated by the significant public health burden of chronic pain and its disproportionate impact on women, focused on the role of menstrual pain in the emergence and severity of chronic pain later in life. The goal was to highlight the significance of menstrual pain as a public health problem and to better manage menstrual pain as a strategy for preventing chronic pain in women.  

To continue her research in chronic pain prevention, Dr. Li joined the Pediatric Pain and Sleep Innovations (PPSI) lab at Seattle Children’s Research Institute in 2021 as a postdoctoral fellow in pursuit of research in adolescent chronic pain. She has completed a small institution-funded project which examines the roles of pubertal development, sex hormones, and sleep circadian health in the onset of adolescent pain. Currently, she is expanding this line of research to include early life maternal and family risk factors, aiming to create early life, family-based prevention interventions and puberty-informed programs for preventing the incidence of chronic pain in adolescents.  

Dr. Li is immensely grateful to all the mentorship received throughout her academic journey, including the invaluable guidance from her dissertation mentors, Drs. Christopher Seplaki and Donna Kreher, in addition to the generous mentorship support throughout her fellowship training from Drs. Tonya Palermo, Jennifer Rabbitts, See Wan Tham, Neels Groenewald, and Kushang Patel. As a new faculty member, Dr. Li is thrilled to work with the faculty and trainees in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine to contribute to the mission, growth, and success of the department.   

Outside her professional life, Dr. Li enjoys the serenity of nature, reading, hiking, and cooking. She cherishes time with her husband, cat, and family back in China. Dr. Li is particularly fond of the natural beauty around Seattle, making it a family tradition to visit Mount Rainier every summer. Her recent explorations of natural landscapes in both the US and Canada have brought her tranquility, freedom, and inspiration. 


January 2024

Paiger Keasler wears a straw hat and flowered shirt standing on the beach.


Paige M. Keasler, DO is an Acting Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine. She grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, raised by teacher parents who instilled in her their passion for education and helping others. Her mother, a PE teacher, and father, a collegiate basketball coach, exposed her to sports and she quickly learned the importance of teamwork and resiliency.  

Dr. Keasler’s journey began as an undergraduate at Lake Forest College where she majored in Biology and Psychology. She received a scholarship to play collegiate basketball where she was an Academic All-American for 4 years. She played rugby in her off-season. At Lake Forest College, Dr. Keasler began research in Cell Biology and Anatomy. She received a research internship at Rosalind Franklin University-Chicago Medical School where she completed her thesis on single nucleotide polymorphisms within apolipoproteins and how they manifest in mild cognitive impairment versus Alzheimer’s disease. 

Upon graduation, Dr. Keasler joined AmeriCorps in Seattle, where she put her academic research into clinical practice with patients experiencing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s.  After AmeriCorps, Dr. Keasler went to medical school at Western University of Health Sciences in Oregon. 


She completed an Anesthesiology residency back in the Midwest at the University of Iowa, where she was voted chief resident in her final year. She found a passion for women’s health and obstetric anesthesiology and met an important mentor who further exposed her to academic medicine. She completed an Obstetric Anesthesiology Fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis and accepted her current position at the University of Washington shortly after.  While in fellowship, she performed a network meta-analysis investigating the treatment of acute onset severe hypertension in pregnancy. She also researched the possible use of Ketamine for postpartum depression prevention, in addition to opioid use after cesarean delivery, helping set up an opioid takeback program. 

At this point, you may be thinking her research interests are broad, and you are right! She is currently the PI at the University of Washington for the BASIC trial with the goal of improving implementation of evidence-based approaches and surveillance to prevent bacterial transmission and infection.  

She is on the editorial board for the International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesiology performing peer review and helping to manage their social media accounts. Dr. Keasler is currently the associate OB Anesthesiology Fellowship Director and a lead on the Fetal Surgery Team at UWMC-Montlake.   

In her free time, Dr. Keasler still likes to play team sports, ride her bike (she recently completed a ride from Seattle to Vancouver, BC), hike in the fresh PNW air, and take her 2012 Red RAV4 (she calls it the Red Ravioli) on road trips. She has a goal to visit every National Park and has already visited 53/63! 


December 2023

Adam holding a Santa ornament with Christmas lights in the background.


Adam Gordon-Fennell, PhD is a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Garret Stuber’s lab in the Center of Excellence in Neurobiology of Addiction, Pain and Emotion (NAPE), where he studies the hypothalamic and dopaminergic circuits that shape motivation for food and drug rewards. His long-term goal is to lead a lab focused on isolating the neuronal circuits that shape motivation for food and drugs of abuse and use these insights to inform targeted therapeutic interventions.

Dr. Gordon-Fennell earned his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Austin in Dr. Michela Marinelli’s lab supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships Program grant. His thesis focused on understanding the role of the lateral preoptic area of the hypothalamus in regulating dopamine neurons and reward seeking behavior in rats. His work uncovered a novel role of the lateral preoptic area in driving cocaine- and food- seeking behaviors and revealed that the lateral preoptic area regulates midbrain dopamine neuron activity. He also created an outreach program with two other PhD students focused on teaching middle and high school students about the neuroscience of substance use disorder, which was provided to over 1,200 students primarily from disadvantaged backgrounds. His PhD research and public outreach taught him the importance of substance use disorder research and inspired him to seek out a lab to receive training in cutting edge approaches to measure and manipulate brain activity to further delineate the role of brain circuits in motivated behaviors such as those in substance use disorder.   

 Dr. Gordon-Fennell joined Dr. Stuber’s lab to learn how to employ two-photon imaging to study the single cell activity dynamics of hypothalamic neurons during motivated behaviors. To this end, he has developed a behavioral system designed to be used in conjunction with two-photon imaging (named OHRBETS) that features multiple head-fixed models for consumption and operant conditioning in mice and has recently published this work (Gordon-Fennell et al., eLife, 2023). He has helped several other labs set up and use OHRBETS and is involved in collaborations to expand the system to study novel behaviors in head-fixed mice. He is now generating new models of head-fixed drug self-administration and using these models to determine how the brain encodes motivation for food and drugs of abuse.  

 Outside the lab, you can find Dr. Gordon-Fennell in the kitchen making interesting pickled and fermented foods, listening to music, and hiking around Washington. 


November 2023

Li Li, MD, PhD is an AssisDr. Li Li standing on hill looking out at Puget Sound tant Professor, pediatric anesthesiologist, and a new Principal Investigator at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute. He is thrilled to start his research program that aims to develop precision anesthesia by better understanding the brain’s arousal circuits and generating new technology to better modulate these circuits. His long-term goal is to produce anesthesia with reduced cardiorespiratory depression and decreased risk of perioperative neurocognitive disorders such as delirium. Additionally, he is strongly interested in developing physician-scientists in our field. 

Dr. Li completed his MD/PhD at Stanford, anesthesiology residency at UW, followed by a pediatric anesthesiology fellowship at Seattle Children’s. During residency, he worked in Drs. Marge Sedensky and Phil Morgan’s lab to examine a model of anesthesia-induced neurotoxicity in roundworms. He also worked with Dr. Deepak Sharma and Dr. Daniel Raftery to examine changes in brain metabolites from humans under anesthesia. After his clinical fellowship, he worked in Dr. Michael Bruchas’ lab to investigate the role of the noradrenergic system in anesthetic emergence and opioid-induced sleep disruptions. He appreciates all the mentorship he has received; and is excited to work with his new colleagues at the Center for Integrative Brain Research, and to continue his collaborations with the superb people at the UW Center of Excellence in Neurobiology of Addiction, Pain and Emotion (NAPE). 

Outside of work, Li enjoys the natural beauty of the Seattle area, especially in seeing the snowy peaks towering in the distance on a clear day. He relishes cutting through the water in his origami kayak on Lake Washington with his daughter. From time to time, he delights in learning about the history of science and medicine. One of his recent favorite books is “When Breath Becomes Air” by the late Paul Kalanithi, a young neurosurgeon who faced his own mortality when diagnosed with metastatic cancer. In the book, Kalanithi writes ‘The days are long, but the years are short,’ a hopeful reminder that all difficult times will pass before long. 


October 2023


Mitra Heshmati, MD, PhD is an assistant professor whose research focuses on understanding how general anesthesia works in the brain. Dr. Heshmati’s lab is particularly interested in the intersection of anesthetic drug mechanisms with addiction, pain, and stress neural circuitry. Her long-term goal is to make significant contributions to anesthesiology and neuroscience by running a basic-translational research program as a physician-scientist. To do meaningful research, she continues to work with patients and allows clinical questions to guide her research.

Dr. Heshmati completed a combined BA/MS neuroscience program at Johns Hopkins before starting a medical scientist training program at Mount Sinai in New York. She was drawn to APM’s Bonica Scholars Program and the recent establishment of the NAPE Center so she moved to Seattle for her residency training in Anesthesiology. Fortuitously, Dr. Heshmati’s family was also drawn to UW; her partner has a neuroscience lab in the Department of Biological Structure and her sister is faculty at UW’s Foster School of Business.

At APM, Dr. Heshmati has enjoyed excellent mentorship from established clinicians and researchers. She continues to be supported by these mentors and the resources of the NAPE Center. She gives thanks to Leanne, Grace, Robert, Harriet, and all the research staff for keeping everything running smoothly.

While it took time for Dr. Heshmati to adjust to Seattle, she and her family have learned to adapt to PNW life (with the requisite Hawaii vacations/winter light reprieve). They could not imagine a better place to live. Dr. Heshmati’s kids are growing up in extraordinarily beautiful nature and do not hesitate to play in the rain!


September 2023


Daron Vandeleur, MD, is entering her second year as a T32 research fellow in the Pediatric Pain and Sleep Innovation laboratory of Dr. Tonya Palermo.  She aims to become a clinical researcher in pediatric chronic pain.  

Dr. Vandeleur’s interest in pain began during her undergraduate time at UW where she studied neurobiology and global health. She developed a clinical interest in pain during her pediatric residency training at UCSF. After residency she worked as a neonatal hospitalist and subsequently completed a chronic pain fellowship at the University of Washington. She now works clinically in the Seattle Children’s outpatient chronic pain clinic. As part of her fellowship training, Dr. Vandeleur is earning a master’s degree in epidemiology at UW.  

Dr. Vandeleur’s research interest lies in the social and environmental context of pediatric pain and improving access to pain care. Dr. Vandeleur is particularly interested in mixed-methods data analysis and implementation science. Her current research projects include understanding the user experience of psychological digital health interventions and the transition from pediatric to adult pain care.  

Dr. Vandeleur grew up in the Pacific Northwest and enjoys spending her free time with friends and family, eating delicious food, listening to music and generally being outdoors: backpacking, running, hiking, kayaking, gardening, and biking. 


August 2023

This month we’re featuring 3 postdoctoral fellows in Dr. Rong Tian’s lab at the Mitochondria and Metabolism Center: Durba Banerjee, Melissa Herrero Bocco, and Akira Yoshii.

Durba Banerjee, PhD, earned her doctorate in zoology from the University of Calcutta. As a second-year postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Banerjee is studying the role of immune cells with mitochondrial defect in the pathologies of cardiac failure. Concurrently, she is engaged in researching the biological and molecular outcomes of mitochondrial transfer and heightened sensitivity to anesthetics in animals possessing dysfunctional immune cells.

Dr. Banerjee earned her PhD in Zoology in the collaborative laboratories at the University of Calcutta and the Indian Statistical Institute in India. She concentrated on the function of specific transcription factors that dualistically regulate lipid and glucose metabolism in hypertrophied murine hearts induced by pressure overload. Dr. Banerjee’s in vivo studies included cardiomyocyte-targeted nano-encapsulation of deliverables aiming to modulate cardiac function without bystander effects.

Dr. Banerjee’s trip to Seattle from her hometown Kolkata in eastern India was her first solo-travel outside her country. Although she misses her husband Anupam, an internal medicine physician in India, she hopes to explore the Pacific Northwest with him in the near future. Outside of the lab, Dr. Banerjee is an ardent cook, plant-lover and loves capturing street portraits. The photo above is from her first skydiving experience in Oceanside, CA.


Melissa Herrero Bocco, PhD, is a dual citizen of Argentina and Italy, Dr. Herrero Bocco was awarded a PhD from the School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology at Tel Aviv University. Since joining the Tian lab in 2021, Dr. Herrero Bocco’s research is focused on understanding the involvement of mitochondria and cell metabolism dysfunction and their adaptative mechanisms in pathological scenarios.

Dr. Herrero Bocco’s scientific training included studying biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, and animal models. As an undergraduate student at Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Argentina, she conducted research in nutrition related metabolic diseases studying the effect of the acid α-linolenic rich dietary Salvia hispánica L. (chia) seed on dyslipidemia and lipotoxicity induced in rats. As a PhD student at Tel Aviv University, Dr. Herrero Bocco studied a rare genetic neurodegenerative pathology termed Vanishing White Matter (VWM). During her studies she discovered that partial loss of function in eIF2B, a translation initiation factor, leads to an intrinsic defect in oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) in primary astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. This mitochondrial dysfunction impairs the functions and differentiation abilities of these glial cells, explaining why VWM mostly affects the brain white matter. Studying in Israel provided a unique opportunity to interact with people from different ethnicities, backgrounds, and religions and taught her about respect, tolerance and inclusion.

These experiences solidified Dr. Herrero Bocco’s interest in pursuing scientific research on the regulatory mechanisms related to the role of mitochondria and bioenergetics in disease progression. The fact that the heart is an organ with extremely high-energy demands and that cardiovascular diseases are one of the main causes of death worldwide motivated her to choose cardiomyocytes as a cell type to continue studying mitochondrial biology in health and disease. As a member of the Tian Lab, Dr. Herrero Bocco’s research focuses on understanding the role of extracellular mitochondria on Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF). Dr. Herrero Bocco hopes her research will contribute to conceptual and technical training in mitochondria biology and cell metabolism, and will provide a solid foundation toward achieving her long-term goal of transforming molecular insights into a therapeutic modality for human diseases.

In her free time, Dr. Herrero Bocco enjoys spending time with her family and friends, outdoor activities, reading books, and tasting international cuisines.


Akira Yoshii, MD, PhD, practiced as a cardiologist in Japan before earning a PhD from Jikei University School of Medicine. With support from a 2-year grant from the American Heart Association, Dr. Yoshii seeks to understand the cardiac metabolism and mitochondrial function in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).

After finding therapeutic options for treatment of cardiovascular diseases (e.g., severe coronary disease and heart failure) to be quite limited, Dr. Yoshii enrolled in a PhD program with the goal of pursuing the development of novel therapeutics for heart disease. Dr. Yoshii’s PhD research focused on energy metabolism, specifically glucose utilization, and mitochondrial activity in the hearts with ischemia-reperfusion injury. In the Tian Lab, Dr. Yoshii seeks to understand the cardiac metabolism and mitochondrial function in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). He hopes to find the mechanism for developing the HFpEF and unveil therapeutic points.

Outside of work, Dr. Yoshii enjoys traveling and camping with his wife and two daughters.


July 2023


Dr. Raaj Gowrishankar is a fifth-year postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Bruchas, part of the Center of Excellence in Neurobiology of Addiction, Pain and Emotion (NAPE). Dr. Gowrishankar is a recent recipient of a K99/R00 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to support his current work delineating how the endogenous opioid dynorphin coordinates goal-directed behavior.  His long-term scientific and career goal is to be a leader and mentor in the field of neuroscience, with a special emphasis on understanding how goal-directed behavior is refined by neuromodulation.  

Dr. Gowrishankar obtained a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Florida and was recognized with an Achievement Award for Young Engineers.  At UF, Dr. Gowrishankar conducted research in the laboratory of Dr. William Ogle where he developed novel opsins for synaptic modulation. He pursued a PhD mentored by Dr. Randy Blakely in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at Vanderbilt University and was funded by the Vanderbilt International Scholars Program and a fellowship from The Brain Institute.   

Nearing the end of his graduate training, Dr. Gowrishankar developed a fascination with how neuromodulatory circuits led to goal-directed behaviors, underlying natural reward seeking and pathological drug use.   He sought out Dr. Bruchas and joined the lab in 2018. While working in the Bruchas Lab, Dr. Gowrishankar discovered that inhibition of cholinergic transmission in the nucleus accumbens is necessary for reward reinforcement (Al-Hasani & Gowrishakar et al., Nature Neuroscience, 2021), developed rigorous tools for neuromodulatory inhibition of terminals with spatiotemporal precision (Copits et al., Neuron, 2021) in vivo, and more recently, characterized novel opioid biosensors for detecting opioid release in vivo (Dong & Gowrishankar et al., under review, 2023).  

Outside of the laboratory, Dr. Gowrishankar enjoys cooking for his family and friends, hiking with his dog Denna, and attempting (albeit unsuccessfully) to convince everyone around him that cricket is better than baseball. 

June 2023


Omidullah Afzal is a member of the APM grants team working as a grants & contracts specialist. He helps PIs with their research portfolios. Omid’s responsibilities include daily post-award management of grants, budget monitoring, subcontracts management, progress reports, and closeout. Omid earned a BA in Language Literacy from Balkh University. He started his professional career in 2009 with a French organization, ACTED (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development), as a reporting officer in North Afghanistan in the city of Maimana. In 2010 he moved to the European Union Police Mission for Afghanistan (EUPOL Afghanistan). In 2015 Omid joined USAID and supported development projects in central Kabul and the northern region of Afghanistan as a grants specialist and senior procurement officer. Omid joined UW’s Department of Global Health in 2020 and moved to APM in 2022. Outside of work Omid enjoys spending time with his family and friends. He also enjoys playing soccer, badminton and traveling.

Tina Backman joined the University of Washington in 1997 and has been with the department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine since June 2012. Tina majored in Art History, and serendipitously found her way to grants management through the recommendation of a friend. She enjoys the collaborative aspect of grants management, interacting with our own investigators and staff, as well as the wider research community, both within and beyond the University of Washington.

Leanne Cornel started as a basic science researcher in Pediatrics then moved to Anesthesiology in 2005. She has been in an administrative role since 2017 supporting various programs and faculty (Bonica Scholars, PPiQSO, Vice Chairs). Whilst admin work is very different from research bench work, she enjoys the challenges of keeping the programs running. Outside of APM, Leanne volunteers as a Child Passenger Safety Technician (educating caregivers on the proper use of child car seats) and likes to read historical fiction.

Lisa Flint is a Clinical Trials Coordinator who has been with APM for 14 years and UW for 25 years.  After graduating UW with a Cellular/Molecular Biology degree she spent years at the bench and tissue culture hood studying Cystic Fibrosis and Diabetes but discovered her enjoyment of Clinical Research working on small studies in Rehabilitation Medicine.  She spent her first few years in APM as an OB Anesthesia Research Coordinator but stepped in to assist the department with IRB reviews and has moved on to tackle additional Clinical Trial activities.  She stays busy outside of work keeping up with her soccer-loving 9 and 11 year old boys, 80-lb dog, and grill loving husband.

Grace Yeung joined APM in 2021 after working in the aerospace industry for 17 years. Grace currently manages post award grant budgets and reporting. There are behind the scenes details that happen within UW, coordinating with OSP/ABC/GCA/other departments, and Grace does her best to handle those pieces so faculty can focus on their research. Outside of work Grace enjoys spending time with family, cooking, and gardening.

As Assistant Director for Research, Harriet Saxe’s primary responsibility is to support investigators, trainees and staff in their academic research pursuits. Harriet supervises the core research team and works with the Vice Chair for Research to foster a productive and collaborative environment for APM researchers. Ask Harriet anything about research administration at UW and she’ll try to find an answer for you. Harriet’s early professional career focused on legal representation for people with disabilities, followed by time at home with her 2 daughters, and eventually joined APM as a research coordinator. Outside of work Harriet is happiest in the great outdoors and traveling with her family.

May 2023


Stephan Thilen, MD, MS, Associate Professor, provides clinical services in the operating room and in the Pre-Anesthesia Clinic at Harborview Medical Center. Dr. Thilen’s clinical research focuses on prospective evaluations of approaches preventing residual paralysis. Dr. Thilen’s recent study published in Anesthesia & Analgesia is the first to completely prevent residual paralysis while keeping a significant role for inexpensive neostigmine. This protocol is identical to one implemented at HMC. Adherence by providers could potentially save several hundred thousand dollars in drug costs annually.

Dr. Thilen completed his residency training in Syracuse, NY. After residency, he ventured into the world of private practice, spending several years working as an anesthesiologist, and eventually becoming the medical director for anesthesiology in a community hospital in West Virginia. It was a fulfilling time, serving his local community and ensuring quality care for patients. Best of all, Dr. Thilen met his wife Kelly who was an ICU nurse.

However, thirst for intellectual challenges and a desire to make a broader impact led him back to academics in 2001. He embarked on a new chapter, pursuing a fellowship in critical care medicine and studying for a master’s degree in Population Health at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. It was a transformative period of growth and learning, providing him with a deeper understanding of healthcare and its implications for populations.

Fast forward to 2008, and Dr. Thilen found himself joining UW in Seattle. This academic environment offered him a platform to contribute to research and education in anesthesiology. During his time at UW, he had the privilege of working with exceptional mentors who played crucial roles in shaping his career. Standout names were Ed Weaver, an ENT surgeon, and Miriam Treggiari, whose guidance and support left a lasting impact. Marge Sedensky also provided valuable mentorship along the way. He was a T32 fellow 2010-12 and his research journey focused on health services and the impact of perioperative medical consultations. He recognized that this perioperative intervention had significant financial implications, with costs amounting to billions of dollars. However, there was limited knowledge about its indications, patterns of use, and effects on outcomes. Dr. Thilen decided to bridge these knowledge gaps. His research studies in this area were published in high-impact journals, including Anesthesiology and JAMA-Internal Medicine, showcasing the value and relevance of his work.

As the years progressed, Dr. Thilen’s focus shifted towards guiding improved perioperative practices with muscle relaxants and the prevention of residual paralysis. The large literature on this subject includes reports of multiple risk factors associated with this issue. One of Dr. Thilen’s notable studies, published in Anesthesiology in 2012, highlighted the significance of using eye muscles for neuromuscular monitoring as a significant risk factor for residual paralysis. By 2015, Dr. Thilen focused on prevention of residual paralysis and the development of a clinical protocol using neostigmine.

In 2021 and 2022, Dr. Thilen was a co-chair of the ASA Task Force charged with developing practice guidelines for monitoring and antagonism of neuromuscular blockade. The work included a systematic review, performed with the assistance of ASA’s professional methodologists. The final “product” is the first national US guidelines on this topic, they were published in the January 2023 issue of Anesthesiology and include 8 recommendations. Most importantly, they recommend the routine use of quantitative neuromuscular monitoring which has recently been implemented at UW-Montlake and Harborview.

When growing up in Sweden, Dr. Thilen learned to sail at a young age in the archipelago of Stockholm. Sailing has remained an important hobby and he will take every opportunity to sail on Lake Washington where he keeps a 22-foot sailboat, or in Puget Sound on friends’ boats. Although perhaps slightly less enthusiastic about waves and winds, his wife Kelly often comes along sailing, as in this picture of a return to Seattle from Port Ludlow on the Olympic Peninsula. Dr. Thilen and his wife Kelly love the Seattle area and raised three wonderful boys here.


April 2023


Caitlin B. Murray, PhD is an Assistant Professor and pediatric pain psychologist in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She grew up in Ithaca, New York, where the winters were cold, and the summers were “Gorges.” Growing up in a hard-working family, she became deeply aware of the power of persistence – that a determined attitude can be the most crucial driver in realizing personal or professional goals. This ingrained value has been a vital driving force during her pursuit of a career as a clinician-scientist in pediatric pain.

Dr. Murray’s journey began as an undergraduate at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she majored in psychology and was first exposed to psychological research focused on adults with chronic pain. Upon graduating in 2008, one of the most impactful experiences was her role as a post-baccalaureate student working under Dr. Tonya Palermo, where she was a study coordinator for her R01-funded project characterizing sleep problems in adolescents with chronic pain. This early exposure to pediatric pain research ignited a lifelong passion for contributing to innovative research and clinical knowledge that could directly help young people with chronic pain.

Consequently, Dr. Murray completed a doctoral degree in child clinical psychology from Loyola University Chicago (Chicago, IL). Her graduate studies focused on learning diverse research methodologies and analytic techniques. Subsequently, her experiences working with older adolescents and young adults (AYA) with chronic pain during her clinical training at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (Columbus, OH) were a turning point. She observed how AYA are more likely to become “lost” in the transition to adult care, struggling to take responsibility for their pain management in the face of increased demands of young adult life (e.g., entering college, workforce). Moreover, she discovered that most evidence-based psychological treatments were developed for children or middle-aged adults and were not tailored to the unique developmental needs of AYA.

These early clinical and research experiences affirmed Dr. Murray’s commitment to becoming a scientist-practitioner in pediatric pain. She was delighted to return to Dr. Palermo’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow at Seattle Children’s Research Institute (2017 –2021) to advance her training in pediatric chronic pain. In June 2021, she was thrilled joined the University of Washington School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine as an Assistant Professor conducting clinical services in the Seattle Children’s Pain Medicine Clinic and developing her research program. Dr. Murray aspires to create psychological pain interventions tailored to AYA’s unique needs and characteristics. It is her career vision to improve existing digital tools for pain self-management by delivering experiences that are more personalized and precisely tailored to each AYA using advances in methodology and data analytics (e.g., AI and machine learning).

When not working, Dr. Murray finds immense joy in spending time with her two beautiful children, Leo (age 3) and Maya (age 1). Leo loves dinosaurs, puzzles, and ice cream. Maya loves to squeal and waddle after her older brother, often pretending to be a dinosaur herself to get his attention. Dr. Murray also enjoys reading fiction and spending time outdoors in the beautiful Pacific Northwest (and she doesn’t even mind the rain).

March 2023


Dr. Elisabeth Powelson’s interest in pain medicine began prior to graduate school when she worked at a methadone clinic and noticed many of the patients developed opioid use disorder after being prescribed pain medication.  Her current T32 fellowship research with mentor Dr. Jennifer Rabbitts looks at integrating medical care and behavioral health care more effectively after trauma surgery.  In the past two years, Dr. Powelson worked on projects that center around pain after major musculoskeletal surgery in adolescents and writing grants to study older adults after musculoskeletal trauma. Her goal is to learn more about what causes the development of chronic pain in trauma patients and implement interventions in the perioperative period to decrease the incidence of chronic pain in musculoskeletal trauma.

Dr. Powelson grew up in Berkeley CA and attended UC Santa Barbara for undergraduate in Biopsychology.  She attended UCSF (University of California, San Francisco) and UCB (University of California, Berkeley) Joint Medical Program for medical school and a MSc.  In 2014, she began her residency at UW then did a pain fellowship and is currently in the T32 research fellowship program.  She works clinically at the Center for Pain Relief at Roosevelt and in the OR at Harborview Medical Center.

In Seattle, Dr. Powelson met her husband and had her son Matthew (5) while in residency.  She had lived in Montlake since 2020 when their son Thomas (2) was born.  She spent her summers in the Sierras, and her sister works for the Tahoe National Forest.  Dr. Powelson likes to backpack, camp, ski, and recently discovered a love of gardening.  When not working, she loves to garden and cook with her children.

February 2023


As lab manager for the Bruchas Lab at the UW Center of Excellence in Neurobiology of Addiction, Pain, and Emotion (NAPE), Azra Suko, PhD supervises 31 lab members ranking from undergraduate students through postdoctoral fellows. As a Research Scientist, Dr. Suko assists Dr. Bruchas with multiple research projects regarding dissection of neural circuit involved in behavioral affect. The Bruchas Lab studies of the neurobiological basis of anxiety, depression, addiction and pain using rodent models of behavior and cutting-edge neuroscience approaches, including genetic, physiological, imaging, optogenetic, and viral manipulations. Additionally, Dr. Suko is responsible for the cloning of cDNA and pAAV constructs, AAV viral packaging, molecular biology, and biochemistry studies as well as laboratory management. Dr. Suko says her most significant accomplishment in the lab is developing a method for a rapid and efficient process for production and purification of AAV viruses necessary for brain circuit tracing.

Dr. Suko received her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and PhD in Bioresource Science and Engineering from the University of Washington. After losing her father to cancer in 2019, Dr. Suko decided to join the Bruchas lab and take on the epic challenge to help find new ways to treat pain.

Over the past couple of years, Dr. Suko has successfully managed to unite all lab members (trainees and undergraduate students) into a very hard-working, enthusiastic team, that ultimately led to very productive period in science in the Bruchas lab despite pandemic challenges. In a short time, she brought together her managerial and administrative skills and knowledge of safety and lab procedures to ensure that the lab operates smoothly while also conducting scientific procedures and assisting others in the lab. Her goal is to effectively motivate the lab members to exert more necessary effort to attain their set goals. With guidance from Dr. Michael Bruchas, the lab has seen massive success and hopes to keep growing as a group.

Azra escaped from the genocide in Bosnia in 1996 and since then has lived in Kirkland, WA. Outside of the laboratory, Dr. Suko enjoys watching her son and daughter play and compete in tennis. Her son is a sophomore playing for the UW men’s tennis team while her daughter is a first-year student and plays for the UW women’s tennis team.


January 2023


See Wan Tham, MBBS, MS is an Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine whose research interests focus on understanding the intersection between sleep, pain and physiological markers, and their impact on child health and quality of life across different pediatric pain conditions. Dr. Tham’s research is funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases K23 Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award. The goals of the proposed study are to investigate the longitudinal trajectories of pain experiences, sleep disturbances, and autonomic function in adolescents with chronic abdominal pain.

Dr Tham was born in Malaysia, and spent her childhood years in a number of East and Southeast Asian countries. Immersion in the different cultures, languages, and environments had nurtured her sense of adventure. She decided to study medicine at the University of Sydney in Australia in 2001. She pursued her passion for anesthesiology, completing residency at the State University of New York (Syracuse), and fellowship at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She then sought intensive research training through the APM National Institutes of Health T32 research training program under the mentorship of Dr. Tonya Palermo, who also serves as her primary mentor on the K23 award. During her early training, she discovered her passion for pediatric pain medicine, and aligned her research and clinical endeavors. She provides clinical services on the Inpatient Pain Service consultation and multidisciplinary Pain Management Clinic at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She had also partnered with other specialty services, including the Chronic Pancreatitis and Orthopedic Limb Lengthening clinics, is collaborating with the pediatric gynecology team on establishing the Chronic Pelvic Pain Clinic. She thrives on her clinical work, which drives her dedication to investigate the risk factors that perpetuate pain symptoms.

Seattle has now emerged as the city were Dr. Tham has resided for the longest duration! She and her family love all the adventures of the Pacific Northwest. She has discovered trail running, and her favorite event to date is the Ancient Lakes Trail Run along the Columbia River Gorge that passes through the desert lakes of central Washington. Seattle also has a rich diversity of cuisines that she has come to love throughout her childhood, that she and her family often delight in. She is grateful for all the incredible opportunities of this city, UW APM and Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Institute.


December 2022

Sean Piantadosi, PhD is a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Bruchas in the University of Washington Center of Excellence in Neurobiology of Addiction, Pain, and Emotion and a T32 research fellow in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine. His work in the Bruchas lab seeks to understand how the amygdala encodes valence, anxiety, and avoidance, with an emphasis on the role of neuromodulators such as norepinephrine. He hopes to combine pharmacological and deep brain imaging approaches in mouse models to identify new and more efficacious treatments for psychiatric illnesses.

Dr. Piantadosi received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience from Saint Mary’s College of Maryland, before spending two years as a research technician in the laboratory of Dr. Todd Gould at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. With Dr. Gould, he received his initial training in classic behavioral pharmacology, investigating how ketamine and ketamine-like compounds produced antidepressant effects. Dr. Piantadosi then moved on to graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh, conducting his dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Susanne Ahmari. With Dr. Ahmari, he used mouse models to investigate cortico-striatal neural activity dysfunction in compulsive behavior, and how the first line therapeutic fluoxetine normalized this dysfunction. He also conducted translational experiments in post-mortem tissue from human subjects with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), identifying critical synaptic abnormalities in cortico-striatal brain regions.

Outside of the laboratory, Dr. Piantadosi enjoys playing guitar, video games, and various sports. He is trying to increase his exploration of the Pacific Northwest and could use recommendations for good outdoor activities and hikes!

November 2022

We are proud to shine this month’s spotlight on two CA3 residents participating in the APM Residency Research Track.


Research interests of Nancy Boulos, MD, MPH include epidemiology, critical care, and public health.  For the research track opportunity, Dr. Boulos chose to work with Dr. Vikas O’Reilly-Shah to examine the role anesthesiologists have in improving long-term patient outcomes. Her project focused on the potential racial and ethnic disparities in selection of anesthetic type (general anesthesia (GA) vs monitored anesthesia care (MAC)) and potential differences in 30-day outcomes for endovascular procedures. The first portion of this project was presented at the Western Anesthesia Resident’s Conference (WARC) 2021. Using the NSQIP database and collaborating with researchers from UCSD and UCLA, Dr. Boulos found a reduction in morbidity in patients who received MAC for endovascular angioplasty in aortoiliac disease compared to GA.

Dr. Boulos’ extracurricular interests include playing tennis, paddle boarding, and painting.



David Weiss, DO worked on two projects focused on pain.  Under the mentorship of Dr. Daniel Raftery, Dr. Weiss used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to study downstream biologic processes associated with chronic pain. Working with Dr. Michele Curatolo, Dr. Weiss studied the use of ketamine to prevent post operative chronic pain.  The unique opportunity to examine the biochemical pathways of chronic pain aligns with Dr. Weiss’ interest in academic anesthesia and pain medicine. Dr. Weiss also believes the development of metabolomics will be in be influential in the future study of chronic pain conditions.

Dr. Weiss appreciates the opportunities provided by the Resident Research Track to continue his interest in academic anesthesia research which began in medical school with projects in pediatric pain and the application of virtual reality technologies. Next year, he plans to continue conducting anesthesia research with a Pain Fellowship at Pennsylvania State University.

Outside of work Dr. Weiss enjoys traveling, trying new foods, and music.


October 2022

This month’s young investigator spotlight features 6 APM residents participating in the Bonica Scholars Research Program. The program is named for Dr. John Bonica, a pioneer in pain medicine and the first Chair of the Anesthesiology Department at UW. The multiyear training program fosters scientific discovery in anesthesiology and perioperative medicine and is designed for anesthesiology residents committed to a career in academic research. Candidates apply through the national residency match process and up to two residents a year are selected as Bonica Scholars. Additional information is available from program director, Dr. Margaret Sedensky, or from the Bonica Scholars website.

Philip Chung, MD, MS, CA3:  Philip’s research interests include medical informatics, natural language processing, and deep learning. He is presenting an oral and poster presentation at the 2022 ASA Conference entitled Comparison of Machine Learning Approaches for Predicting ASA Physical Status Classification from Pre-operative History of Present Illness Text.  In his free time, he enjoys hiking throughout the Cascade and Olympic mountains.

Miles Fontenot, MD, PhD, CA3: Miles is working with Dr. Michele Curatolo to conduct a clinical trial examining the use of virtual reality as a therapy for patients with chronic pain. In his free time, Miles enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and hanging out with his dog Teddy.

Ksenia Ershova, MD, MS, CA2:  Ksenia’s research goal is to improve quality of care by studying routinely collected critical care and anesthesiology data using high-throughput technologies and advanced mathematical modeling.  She is currently working with Dr. Nicholas Kassebaum on healthcare outcomes in patients with sickle cell disease.

Outside of clinical and research work, Ksenia enjoys skiing, hiking, and biking.

Hanan Baker, MD, PhD, CA1:  Hanan’s research with Drs. Garret Stuber and Michael Bruchas (NAPE Center) focuses on studying how psychedelics affect the brain in the hopes of better understanding consciousness and memory. She uses single cell RNA sequencing, 2-photon calcium imaging, and artificial intelligence-based behavioral analyses to learn about how psychedelics affect the mouse prefrontal cortex on molecular and network levels.  Hanan enjoys a variety of adventure sports, like surfing, snowboarding and ice skating. She was born and raised in Fresno, California with one older sister who is a plastic surgery resident. She visits her parents in Fresno often, to pick fresh fruits and veggies from the yard and cuddle with her three cats.

Maciej Czarnecki, MD, PhD, CA1:  With a background in virology, Maciej’s research interests lie in understanding the complex dance between host and pathogen. This fall he will be studying the molecular underpinnings of reactive airway disease with a specific focus on the interaction between type II inflammation and viral upper respiratory infections. By understanding the molecular changes effected by viral infection of the respiratory epithelium, he hopes to better understand potential pathways for therapeutic intervention in airway disease.

When not in the ORs or lab, Maciej likes to relax by cultivating his hobbies including gaming, sailing, and casual sports. This winter he looks forward to returning to the ski slopes and hopefully learning how to golf in the following months.

Ian Jones, MD, CBY:  Ian is interested in the treatment of chronic and post-surgical pain.  He recently started working with Dr. Jennifer Rabbitts on a project that will examine melatonin for post pain in children.  Additional interests include post-surgical outcomes, diagnostics, and resident/student education and wellness.  Ian enjoys being outdoors, playing guitar, gardening, hanggliding/paragliding, and spending time with friends and family.



September 2022


Nicholas J Kassebaum, MD is a WWAMI native originally from the Yakima Valley who spent autumn weekends of his childhood yelling his heart out at Huskies home football games on Saturdays. He decided to go away for college, but after graduating from Macalester College (St. Paul, MN) and medical school at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN), Nick came back to Seattle where he completed a transitional year internship at Virginia Mason followed by anesthesiology residency here at University of Washington, and pediatric anesthesiology fellowship at Seattle Children’s Hospital. He has been on the faculty since 2012. He attended in the operating rooms and on the pain service at SCH for six years then in 2018 transitioned to working clinically at Harborview Medical Center.

Dr. Kassebaum’s deep desire to help use his time, energy, and skills to improve global health and equity through research has informed many of his career choices, including a decision to become a doctor, an anesthesiologist, to study health metrics, and to pursue a career as a Clinician-Scientist. Nick’s involvement with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project began when he was in residency on the Resident Research Track, an optional CA3 block where trainees can work to craft an application for a 6-month dedicated period of time to pursue a research project. And he never left. He is now Associate Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Adjunct Associate Professor in Health Metrics Sciences and Global Health at University of Washington. As Research Team Lead for Neonatal and Child Health (NCH) at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a position he has held since 2016, Nick leads a team of dedicated researchers, managers, and data professionals who work together to analyze, using “big data” techniques, individual-level and population data to estimate levels, trends, and correlates of death and disability. “The guiding principle of my research is that by understanding the past, current, and future landscape of disease burden, we will be better positioned to identify effective preventive measures, combat structural and intersectional drivers of inequity, and appropriately target policies, treatments and system-level changes to provide health-giving or life-saving interventions,” says Nick.

The topic areas of Dr. Kassebaum’s research are related primarily to the field collectively known as RMNCAH/N (Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health and Nutrition), with completed and ongoing (and hopefully future) work in oral health, demographics of aging, burden of surgical disease, human resources for health, and adverse effects of medical treatment. He has published extensively on the findings of this research, presented at multiple national and international conferences, and been invited to serve on more than 15 international technical advisory groups through organizations including WHO, UNICEF, World Bank, and the MITS Surveillance Alliance. Current and past funding support for Dr. Kassebaum’s work have come from National Institutes of Health, the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, Smile Train International, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

When not working, Nick likes to spend time outdoors, travel to new places, and meet new people. He and his wife also love to spend time gardening, completing home DIY projects, cooking many different types of delicious food, and sitting on their porch with their cats and chatting with folks wandering the neighborhood. (Are they chatting with the cats or the people? We don’t know. Maybe both.)


July/August 2022


Matthew Walker, PhD is an Acting Instructor at the Mitochondria and Metabolism Center (MMC) in South Lake Union.  As a member of the MMC, directed by Dr. Rong Tian, Matthew explores the translational potential of mitochondrial targeted therapies. Dr. Walker holds a PhD in cardiovascular pharmacology from the Medical College of Georgia.  His PhD work focused on the development of cell-permeable peptides that cross the cell membrane of cardiac myocytes and enter the mitochondrial membrane to enhance metabolic performance. Here at UW, he has been funded by the NIH National Research Service Award to study methods of increasing NAD+ synthesis in pre-clinical models of heart failure. In April, Dr. Walker received a 3-year career development grant from the American Heart Association to study mitochondrial biogenesis in heart failure.

Originally from the east coast, Dr. Walker earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Kentucky and did his post-bachelor work in the field of cardiovascular perfusion. After finishing his medical rotations at Yale Medical Center, he worked as a clinical perfusionist (operating the heart and lung machine) in a busy open-heart surgical department before transitioning to research full-time. Outside of work, Dr. Walker is an avid whitewater kayaker and competes occasionally in extreme whitewater races. He and his wife Taylor enjoy skiing, hiking, and fishing.

Dr. Walker believes the MMC is an excellent research environment for trainees and provides the necessary tools and collaborations to develop extramurally funded research programs. In addition, he was recently nominated to serve on the APM’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (EDI) Council. He is excited about this opportunity and looks forward to working with the current council members and the APM in this important endeavor.

June 2022

Left to right: Jennifer Rabbitts, Tonya Palermo, Emily Law

Dr. Tonya Palermo, PhD, is a Professor of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, and holds the Hughes M. and Katherine Blake Endowed Professorship in Health Psychology. Dr. Palermo also serves as Associate Director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute (SCRI).

Dr. Palermo was first introduced to pain research as an undergraduate at the University of California at Los Angeles where she worked with Lonnie Zeltzer, MD in the UCLA Pediatric Pain Program. This early experience sparked an enduring interest in childhood pain. As a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Palermo  focused on pain management in pediatric patients.  Dr. Palermo held faculty appointments at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland and at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine before arriving at UW in 2010.

At UW Dr. Palermo developed the Pediatric Pain and Sleep Innovations Lab which has the overarching goal to improve the lives of children with pain and their families. Dr. Palermo’s research program has been funded continuously by NIH for the past 22 years and spans a wide breadth of clinical, translational, and epidemiological research in acute and chronic pain in children, adolescents, and young adults. Dr. Palermo is particularly interested in prevention and psychosocial treatment of pain in children and adolescents. She is well known for her pioneering work in developing and implementing low cost and accessible digital health interventions (Internet interventions and smartphone applications) for management of chronic pain in youth.

Dr. Palermo provides scientific direction and leadership in several areas in the department. About 10 years ago, she created a mentoring program for junior faculty in the division of pediatric anesthesia and since 2012, Dr. Palermo has directed the UW T32 postdoctoral training program in anesthesiology research. She has successfully renewed the T32 training grant twice and will be working on the third renewal later this year. Dr. Palermo also provides individual mentorship to numerous investigators who are engaged in pain and clinical research. As a mentor, she enjoys helping to build research careers and supporting the growth of junior investigators; Dr. Palermo reported that “mentoring is the best part of my job.”

As a recipient of the 2021 UW Medicine Award for Excellence in Mentoring Women Faculty, Dr. Palermo stated, “I was fortunate to have experiences early in my training with outstanding mentors. From them I learned valuable lessons about the importance of not only inspiring others to think creatively and ask innovative scientific questions but also the importance of building genuine relationships, learning, and laughing together. This award is special to me because it represents my commitment to the careers and lives of the women who I’ve had the privilege to support over my career.”


June 2022

14th Annual Academic Evening Awards

Judy Su, PhD Endowed Research Training Award for Basic Science, $1250

Rhiana Simon, BS, PhD Candidate; Madelyn Hjort, Graduate; Pranav Senthilkumar, Undergrad; Gabrielle Cooper, Undergrad; Garret Stuber, PhD; et al: Transcriptional and Functional Characterization of Septal Cell Types During Opioid Dependence and Withdrawal

 Judy Su, PhD Endowed Research Training Award for Clinical Research, $1250

Rui Li, PhD; Tonya Palermo, PhD; Jennifer Rabbitts, MD:  Quantitative Sensory Testing Predicts Postsurgical Acute and Chronic Pain among Youth after Spinal Fusion Surgery

 Excellence in Research Award, Second Place, $500 

Marian Giles, MBBS; Ronald Pauldine, MD; William Van Cleve, MD, MPH: Prior Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome is Associated With Perioperative Pulmonary Complications: A Retrospective Cohort Study

 Excellence in Research Award, Third Place, $250

Dennis Wang, MD, PhD; Rong Tian, MD, PhD; Isabella Tucker, Undergrad: Boosting NAD To Combat Heart Failure Sterile Inflammation

 Honorable Mention Awards:

Philip Chung, MD, MS; Meliha Yetisgen, PhD; Vikas O’Reilly-Shah, MD, PhD: Comparison of Machine Learning Approaches for Predicting ASA Physical Status Classification From Pre-operative History of Present Illness Text

David Marcus, PhD: Neuromodulatory Tuning of Behavioral Engagement Via a PVT-Nac Circuit


May 2022

Meet Toni Hsu, PhD, a Research Scientist and Lab Manager in the Tian Lab at the Mitochondria and Metabolism Center (MMC) at South Lake Union.  We asked her a few questions for this feature.

How did you get into this line of research?  My background is actually behavioral neuroscience so I am grateful that Dr. Tian took a chance and hired me as her lab manager.  I am learning about metabolism and cardiovascular diseases as I go, but fortunately a lot of techniques that I already know are useful to the lab.  Having been trained as a neuroscientist I’ve since learned to appreciate organs outside the head, such as the heart!

What does your typical workday look like?  My day starts with checking and responding to emails, and then it can go into different directions because I wear multiple hats in the lab.  My goal is to keep the lab operating smoothly and safely, so my day is split between lab management (safety regulations and personnel training, purchasing, equipment operation and maintenance), finance (grants and budgeting), animal maintenance, and periodically running pilot studies.  Oh and in between those trying to answer whatever questions lab members throw at me.

What has been your most significant accomplishment/finding?  I wouldn’t call this significant accomplishment, but I am very fortunate to have worked with multiple animal models and lots of people (including a Nobel Prize laureate).  Moving up the evolutionary ladder, I’ve worked with crustaceans, Drosophila, tilapia and rodents studying a wide range of topics from neuroendocrinology, biological rhythms/sleep, to behaviors such as depression and anxiety, and finally to metabolism and cardiovascular diseases.

Any advice for others looking to get into this field?  Research in general can be stressful and time-consuming, so you need to have a fairly high threshold for stress tolerance.  But it is very exciting and rewarding, which keeps you going.  In grad school I had to develop a fluorescent in situ protocol from scratch.  I will always remember turning on the microscope and seeing the fluorescent cells staring back at me, and I was like omg it actually worked!

What one thing would you like people to know about you?  I have been volunteering at the Seattle Aquarium since 2012, and it allows me to sort of return to the time when I worked with crustaceans during grad school at UW Biology.  Find me Saturday afternoons and I can give you a tour!


April 2022

Dustin Long, MD is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Critical Care Medicine.  In March, Dr. Long received a 5-year NIH Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23) in the amount of $831,000 from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)  for his proposal “Targeting the Patient Microbiome for the Prevention of Surgical Site Infection in Spine Surgery.” His mentors are Dr. Monica Vavilala, Dr. Stephen Salipante (UW Dept. Laboratory Medicine and Pathology), and Dr. John Alverdy (University of Chicago Dept. Surgery). Other advisors include Drs. John Lynch, Jeffrey Jarvik (CLEAR), Lucas Hoffman, and William Lack. The aims of the study are to define the origins of the bacteria causing wound infection in spine surgery and to identify clinical and genetic markers than can be used to implement tailored approaches to prevention, such as personalized surgical antibiotic prophylaxis based on the preoperative microbiome. Dr. Long  has ongoing collaborations with the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, and Division of Trauma, Burn and Critical Care Surgery, studying the role of the patient microbiome in outcomes of shoulder arthroplasty and major burn injury.

Dr. Long completed his MD and a NIH TL1 clinical translational research fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco, followed by anesthesiology residency in the research track at Massachusetts General Hospital. He then came to the University of Washington for fellowship training in critical care medicine.

Dr. Long’s clinical experiences caring for patients in the ICU with healthcare-associated infections and prior research experience in the human genetics of susceptibility to viral infection led him to pursue focused research training in microbiome sciences and bacterial epidemiology through the APM T32 research training program. As a T32 fellow in the Salipante Laboratory, he studied the genetics of Staphylococcus aureus respiratory infection, the epidemiology of surgical site infection in spine surgery, and the reproducibility of SARS-CoV2 RT-PRC test results during the early pandemic.

Clinically, Dr. Long enjoys caring for patients in the Harborview Trauma-Surgical Intensive Care Unit and operating room, as well as working with Infection Prevention and Control teams to advance the quality and safety of care across the UW enterprise. He and his family love exploring the Pacific Northwest and learning about the history of the area. They live in West Seattle and are counting down the days until the bridge reopens.



March 2022

Kira Spencer, PhD is a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Simon Johnson’s lab in the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and is currently a T32 research fellow with UW Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine. Her primary project is investigating the role of astrocytes in emergence from anesthesia. She has also contributed to projects examining anesthetic induced toxicity in a mouse model of mitochondrial disease as well as work with Dr. Margaret Sedensky and Dr. Phil Morgan studying the molecular mechanisms underlying anesthetic action in the spinal cord.

Originally from the Midwest, Dr. Spencer earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. With an interest in neurodevelopment and a desire to escape to a warmer climate, she decided to pursue a PhD in neuroscience from the University of California, Davis. She completed her dissertation work with Dr. Laura Borodinsky, studying how environmental temperature influences spinal cord development in a frog model system at the Institute for Pediatric and Regenerative Medicine at Shriners Children’s Hospital in Sacramento, CA. As a result of her PhD work, Dr. Spencer developed a fascination with how changes in physiological or environmental factors challenge neuronal homeostasis and the subsequent pathologies that occur. As a postdoctoral fellow her work has focused on studies investigating how volatile anesthetics impact the nervous system, utilizing mouse models of mitochondrial disease which exhibit hypersensitivity to anesthetics.

Dr. Spencer enjoys hiking and birding in the PNW with her partner and their dog, Sheba because it affords her the opportunity to practice her (very) amateur photography skills. In addition, perhaps due to her Midwest roots, she loves visiting the various farms in western Washington, especially the lavender and tulips farms.


February 2022

Brandy Briones, PhD is a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Garret Stuber’s lab (NAPE Center) investigating the molecular and genetic makeup and underlying circuitry of the paraventricular thalamus, a central node in the brain important for regulating emotion-driven and motivated behaviors. Her primary research focuses on how steroid hormones (i.e., estrogen and testosterone) interface with paraventricular thalamus-related behaviors and pathologies; she is also working on a collaborative project investigating spinohypothalamic pathways involved in the encoding and processing of pain.

Dr. Briones received her bachelor’s degree in Psychobiology at UCLA and her doctoral degree in Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University. In a culture where mental health stigma was high and access to mental health care was (and is still) low, she joined a non-profit mental health organization partnered with the UCLA Student Wellness Commission to teach mental health education programs to university community members and elementary schools in underrepresented communities. This work led to an interest in better understanding the biological basis of psychopathologies, where Dr. Briones then became an undergraduate CARE Research Fellow in Dr. Thomas R. Minor’s lab studying the role of adenosine in post-traumatic stress disorder. Never having considered graduate school (or really knowing anything about it), she was encouraged by Dr. Minor and the CARE Research Program to apply for PhD graduate research programs. In the Fall of 2014, she joined Princeton’s Psychology and Neuroscience joint degree PhD program with primary advisor Dr. Elizabeth Gould and secondary advisor Dr. Ilana Witten where she defended her thesis, “Investigating structural plasticity and perineuronal nets in the hippocampus and dorsal striatum”.

Dr. Briones and her two cats, Thorndike and Aster, love living in Seattle. She enjoys all of the nature activities the Pacific Northwest has to offer, with the hopes of summiting Mt. Rainier at some point during her postdoc (let her know if you have any pointers or backpacking recommendations). She also plays beach and indoor volleyball, basketball, and softball, and is always looking for more folks to play with!


January 2022

Fausto Carnevale Neto, PhD is an Acting Instructor in Dr. Daniel Raftery’s Lab at the Mitochondria and Metabolism Center (MMC) in South Lake Union.  As a member of the Northwest Metabolomics Research Center (NWMRC), directed by Daniel Raftery, Dr. Carnevale Neto employs analytical and computational solutions to expand metabolite annotation for the purposes of metabolic exploration and clinical diagnosis. In the field of metabolomics, metabolite identification or annotation is one of the major challenges currently faced by researchers.

At UW, he recently integrated complementary annotation tools into a mass spectral network to provide some of the most comprehensive metabolite identification in urine samples to date (>500 compounds in only 10 samples). The method represents a valuable resource to many clinical and biomedical studies interest in exploring the complex urine metabolome.

Currently, Dr. Carneval Neto extends this approach to capture the metabolic dynamics of isolated mitochondria in different cell cultures, including cancer stem cells and homogeneous populations of myoblasts. The goal is to increase knowledge about mitochondrial metabolite diversity and function in the regulation and maintenance of different biological states, such as cancer progression or muscle dystrophy.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy-Biochemistry from the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Sao Paulo State University (UNESP), and a master’s degree and PhD in Chemistry from the Institute of Chemistry (UNESP).  He worked as a postdoc at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ribeirao Preto from University of Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil.  Dr. Carnevale Neto has been at UW since October 2018.

“Seattle has gorgeous outdoor surroundings, with mountains, forests, and lakes. Having a background on natural sciences, it is great to live and be connect to such a unique environment. The city is also tolerant, relaxed, and has amazing cafes where I can sip a cup of coffee, a beverage that is closely related to my Brazilian roots.”


December 2021

Alexa Lean, MD and Marian Giles, MD are CA3 residents participating in APM’s Resident Research Track.  The Research Track provides residents with an opportunity to engage in research with a mentor and/or lab of their choice.

Alexa Lean, MD

Recent research has proven circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) can be used to detect cell death. Certain medications, cardiotoxic chemotherapeutic regimens, are associated with increased cell death.  With this background, we hope to diagnose chemotherapy-related cardiomyopathies before clinical symptoms develop in patients on cardiotoxic treatment regimens for breast cancer management.

I will play an integral role in patient recruitment, sample gathering, cfDNA sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis, working with Dr. Shin Lin (UW Professor of Cardiology). I hope to gain an understanding of how this blood test can be applied to various clinical contexts, including pain medicine. Ideally, identifying cfDNA sequences would help diagnose and differentiate the etiology of various pain symptoms: neuropathic, somatic, visceral, metastatic.

I started my academic career at the University of California San Diego, majoring in philosophy and organic chemistry. I then attended The George Washington School of Medicine, in the Research Track, focusing on isolating microRNA in patients with breast cancer to distinguish the potential for benign lesions to become ductal carcinoma in-situ. Through this microRNA study in medical school, I had the unique opportunity to conduct experiments at Peking University First Hospital in Beijing, China. I am eager to return to basic science and am grateful for the opportunity to do so as a resident in the Research Track. As I continue my career as a Pain Fellow at UCLA, I hope to continue combining basic science with clinical works.


Marian Giles, MD

The Perioperative pulmonary complications in patients recovered from ARDS project will investigate the potential link between perioperative pulmonary complications (PPCs) in patients with a prior history of ARDS using the IBM Marketscan database.

This retrospective observational cohort study will estimate the incidence of PPCs in the subset of ARDS patients who are observed to undergo elective surgical procedures. Secondary aims include mortality analysis, analysis of unplanned intubations and identification of risk factors increasing the risk of PPCs in the ARDS group.

I am originally from New Zealand and obtained my undergraduate Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) from the University of Auckland. I graduated from medical school at University of Melbourne, Australia, and was able to work for 3 years as a general junior resident in surgery, intensive care, and anesthesia. Since moving to Seattle and prior to beginning residency, I worked with Dr Palermo at the Pediatric Pain and Sleep Innovations Lab, working on projects investigating the link between pediatric pain and school absences.

After residency, I hope to continue my research work alongside a career in academic anesthesia and aim to complete an Anesthesiology Critical Care Fellowship in the near future.

November 2021

VA Puget Sound Health Care System’s Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine Scholarship & Research Appreciation Month

We believe scholarship and research in medicine is important to:

  • Offer knowledge, skills, and habits of mind to educate tomorrow’s doctors and nurses
    Maintain the spirit of inquisitiveness in health care providers
    Build an evidence-based foundation for more effective future medical management
    Provide our veterans accessible, safe and the most efficacious health care


October 2021

13th Annual Academic Evening Award Winners (10/05/2021)

Judy Su, PhD Endowed Research Training Award for Basic Science, $1250

  • Sean Piantadosi, PhD; Charles Zhou, PhD; Carina Pizzano, BA; Tammy Nguyen, BA; Garret Stuber, PhD; Michael Bruchas, PhD: Holographic Stimulation of Amygdala Ensembles Responsive to Opposing Valences Bidirectionally Modulate Behavior

Judy Su, PhD Endowed Research Training Award for Clinical Research, $1250

  • Shara Feld, MD, PhD; Monica Vavilala, MD, Bala Nair, PhD; Daniel Hippe, MS:  A Machine Learning Approach for Predicting Real Time Risk of Intraoperative Hypotension in Traumatic Brain Injury

Excellence in Research Award, Second Place, $500 

  • Li Li, MD, PhD; Esther Li, UW undergraduate; Michael Bruchas, PhD: Hypnotic Response to Nociceptin Receptor Agonism is Mediated by the Parabrachial Nucleus

Excellence in Research Award, Third Place, $250

  • Rebecca Bornstein, BA, PhD candidate; Julia Stokes, BS; Katerina James, BA; Kyung Yeon Park, BS; Simon Johnson, PhD; Philip Morgan, MD; Margaret Sedensky, MD: Microglial Proliferation Drives the Pathobiology of Necrotizing Brian Lesions in Leigh Syndrome

Honorable Mention Awards:

  • Andrew Luskin, BA, PhD Candidate; Li Li, MD, PhD; Kelsy Barcomb, PhD; Christopher Ford, PhD; Michael Bruchas, PhD: A Pericoerulear GABAergic Population Integrates Salient Stimuli and Modulates Arousal
  • Kira Spencer, PhD; Christian Woods, BS; Hailey Worstman, BA; Philip Morgan, MD; Margaret Sedensky, MD: Trek Channels Do Not Affect Volatile Anesthetic Sensitivity in Mice


September 2021

A little over two years ago, a group of UW Medicine faculty and staff met with a team from Microsoft Research-Cambridge (MSRC) to explore a data science partnership. MSRC proposed to combine the clinical and data science expertise at UW Medicine with the expertise of MSRC in data science and machine learning to solve a long-standing problem – perioperative hypotension. The combined team would apply machine learning models to a large and unique UW Medicine clinical dataset to identify risk factors and predictors for the development of perioperative hypotension. The hope was to create an algorithm that could predict the risk of perioperative hypotension better than a trained clinician.

The team had a problem, however. MSRC did not want to accept the risk of having the UW Medicine dataset transferred to them. UW Medicine did not have a safe way for MSRC researchers to log into UW Medicine systems to access to the data.

This is where Rob Fabiano and Roland Lai of TECHdesk came in. Over the course of seven months, from mid-2019 to early 2020, TECHdesk built what came to be known as a Digital Research Environment (DRE) in the Microsoft Azure Cloud. Many people use cloud computing every day. Whenever you do a web search, send email from your UW Medicine email account, or watch a show on a streaming video service, you are using cloud computing. Cloud computing has a key feature that makes it perfect for data science research – it is elastic. That is, you can purchase as much computing storage and power for as long as you need it. When your project is over, you just turn it off and stop paying for it.

TECHdesk worked with UW-IT, UW Medicine ITS Security, UW Medicine Compliance, and Microsoft to overcome numerous regulatory, security, and technical challenges building the DRE. Many of these issues UW and UW Medicine had never encountered before – from the mundane, like creating a process to accept the Azure computing credits that Microsoft was offering, to extremely complex, like connecting UW networks and servers to the Azure cloud in a HIPAA-compliant manner.

Just weeks after the first DRE launched, the nation went into lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The MSRC and UW Medicine teams saw an opportunity to partner again, this time to find ways to more efficiently allocate limited resources to care for COVID-19 patients. The research team again approached TECHdesk for help. TECHdesk was able to deploy another DRE, and leverage all they had learned from the first experience to do it much more quickly. As a result of this collaboration, UW Medicine can now do data science on ePHI in the cloud.

TECHdesk has assisted numerous labs and research projects in A&PM, including PPiQSO, MMC, and NAPE. They have developed and implemented solutions for secure computing, storage, file transfer, and machine learning. They can help navigate the complex networking and computing environment at the UW, connect you to campus resources, or provide consultative assistance to help scope and develop computational infrastructure to support your research. Please reach out to


August 2021

Dr. Koichi Hashikawa’s research focus is deciphering molecular and circuit mechanisms underlying hormonal and drug controls on motivated behaviors.  Dr. Hashikawa employs interdisciplinary approaches from genetics, electrophysiology and optics to achieve his long-term research goals of 1) identifying circuit nodes mediating motivated behaviors, 2) identifying molecular mechanisms underlying normal and maladaptive behavioral states at defined neural circuits, and 3) assessing the clinical values of the findings in the model organisms to develop means for correcting maladaptive behaviors and diseases.

Dr. Hashikawa partners with his wife and scientific collaborator in the Stuber Lab, Yoshiko Hashikawa.  Together they recently developed state of the art single cell genomics techniques (scRNAseq) and computational approaches demonstrating that increasing levels of circulating sex hormones during puberty govern transcriptional dynamics in the hypothalamus, which ultimately support maturations of neuronal circuits and behaviors.  Dr. Hashikawa envisions single cell genomics will also be fully utilized in neuroscience to better understand the underpinnings of healthy and abnormal physiological, emotional and behavioral states in animal models and humans.

Since relocating to Seattle from the East Coast, Dr. Hashikawa spends his weekend surfing wild waves with friends and hiking in Pacific Northwest forests with his wife and their dog, Nana.


July 2021

Intent on conducting cardiovascular research, Dr. Pei Wang joined Dr. Wang Wang’s lab in the Mitochondria and Metabolism Center (MMC) in 2014 as a post-doctoral fellow.  Dr. Wang is now an Acting Instructor and his research focus is mitochondrial calcium signaling, myocardial energetics and metabolism, and cardiac pathophysiology.  He seeks to better understand how mitochondrial Ca2+ Uniporter regulates the development of the heart via affecting cardiomyocytes maturation, particularly on the early stages of heart formation.

Dr. Wang is also investigating how activated Ca2+ calmodulin kinase II δB upregulates expression of Mitochondrial Ca2+ Uniporter to increase mitochondrial Ca2+ and how mitochondria, by elevating Ca2+ uptake, control Ca2+ homeostasis between different cell compartments to limit chronic stress-induced cardiomyocytes death. Using both in vitro and in vivo models, Dr. Wang is able to demonstrate that targeting this regulatory pathway could be a therapeutic opportunity for pathological cardiac remodeling. Publication on this project is expected this year!

Dr. Wang believes the MMC provides an excellent environment for researchers. He says that when there is something you do not know, you can always find people to discuss and learn about it. His mentor, Dr. Wang Wang, encourages testing hypotheses, even if potentially wrong or not quite 100 percent true.  Being at MMC taught Dr. Wang how to troubleshoot, how to interpret results, how to communicate ideas, and how to think out of the box to chase bigger questions from the collaborators in different labs at MMC. There is nothing comparable to his experience at MMC.

Dr. Wang earned his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences.  When not in the lab, he enjoys travelling and enjoying the scenery in the Pacific Northwest.  He spends time studying geography which helps him balance work and life.


June 2021

Kelly Michaelsen, MD, PhD’s research combines her interests in biomedical engineering and anesthesiology to develop innovative technologies to improve perioperative patient care and safety.  As a graduate of the UW APM residency and Bonica Scholars program, Dr. Michaelsen is excited to collaborate with colleagues from medicine, engineering, and computer science.

Her current project develops computer algorithms to automatically detect syringes and drug delivery events; she hopes to embed them into smart eyewear like google glasses to provide an early alert before a drug is given to a patient and also eliminate manual charting of drug delivery.  This will improve the fidelity of the EMR, making future work like predictive analytics more useful.  On the hardware side, she continues to work on sensing neuromuscular paralysis with a device she built using mechanomyography and comparing that to commercial devices. She is also finishing up a smartphone-based PT/INR device that utilizes the smartphone vibration motor and camera to shake a blood sample and detect when clotting has occurred.

When she was applying to MD/PhD programs from Dartmouth College, some would not even consider a candidate who wanted to study engineering as it seemed so detached compared to fields like biology or neuroscience.  However, in the past fifteen years computer science and engineering for medical applications has exploded, and Dr. Michaelsen is very excited to continue to advance healthcare through new sensors and techniques like machine learning.

Dr. Michaelsen’s favorite part about being part of APM is the people. She considers it an honor to be able to work with such an outstanding group of people, particularly the CRNAs who have been so willing to wear GoPro’s all day long as a part of her research study.  She enjoys the teaching aspect when working with residents in the OR.

Getting out to the wilderness is one of Dr. Michaelsen’s favorite things about living in the Pacific Northwest.  She loves to ski with her family or spend the night surrounded by mountains in the van that they have converted into a camper.


May 2021

Jacob Sunshine, MD, PhD is an APM Assistant Professor with an adjunct appointment in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering. He recently became a Director at the Brotman Baty Institute, where his focus will be on translational research at the intersection of computer science and public health.  He obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison then attended medical school and residency at the University of Washington.  He also completed his public health degree in epidemiology at UW.

Dr. Sunshine joined the University of Washington because of its dual commitment to world class research and clinical care. He thinks many departments aspire to this goal but few are able to truly realize this dual mission, which is what makes UW special and drew him to the department.  Regarding his research, he is intensely fascinated and driven by the idea that there are hundreds of millions of relatively inexpensive computing platforms in our pockets and homes that are orders of magnitude more capable than equipment typically used when caring for patients. A typical smartphone, for example, has 10-50x the computing capability of a Philips X2 monitor, which is used routinely for monitoring vital signs in the operating room and ICU. He is constantly asking how these capable systems could be used in novel, clinically meaningful ways that can be tested empirically.

Most of Dr. Sunshine’s work to date has been proof-of-concept, focused on demonstrating how these computing platforms can be used to measure vital signs or identify pathology using their embedded sensors (e.g., using active sonar to measure breathing or machine-based classification of audible biomarkers). The next step of his work, which will be done in partnership with the Brotman Baty Institute, is to use these tools at clinical research scale (involving 100s to 1000s of patients followed serially) to see if these systems can make a difference in clinically meaningful outcomes. For example, in one collaboration right now with Apple, they are measuring if a watch taking nearly continuous measurements can identify patterns that precede assay-confirmed respiratory infections.

Dr. Sunshine’s favorite part about the department is the people. He loves learning about faculty members’ areas of interest (research, clinical, administrative), learning new things about these domains, and, when it makes sense, collaborating.  He also enjoys exploring the Northwest with his wife and two young kids.


April 2021

Kushang Patel, PhD is a Research Associate Professor who has a background in epidemiology and gerontology. His research interests include pain, aging, and physical activity. He joined the Department in 2012 as a Research Assistant Professor under the mentorship of Dr. Dennis Turk.

Currently, Dr. Patel is the PI of 3 clinical trials involving exercise in older adults with painful knee osteoarthritis (OA). The first is a phase 3 trial funded by the National Institute on Aging/NIH that investigates the efficacy of combining a group-based exercise program called EnhanceFitness® (EF) with a technology-enhanced, cognitive-behavioral skills training program. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Patel adapted EF for remote delivery (tele-EF) using a participatory process, engaging EF users, instructors, and national leadership. He is now testing the acceptability and feasibility of tele-EF for falls prevention in rural older adults with knee OA through an Exploratory Research Project award that is funded by the CDC and administered by the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center (HIPRC), which is led by Dr. Monica Vavilala. This project is being conducted in partnership with Arbor Health (a rural-serving health care system in Lewis County, WA) and Sound Generations (a non-profit organization that licenses and disseminates EF nationally). Lastly, Dr. Patel received an Academic/Community Partnership award from ITHS to develop and implement a clinical pathway for exercise prescription and referral to tele-EF for older patients with knee OA in rural primary care clinics in Wyoming. This project involves partnerships with the WWAMI-region Practice Research Network and Sound Generations. The results of these pilot trials will be used to plan for a larger implementation-effectiveness trial of tele-EF in rural older adults with knee OA.

In addition to intervention work, Dr. Patel conducts epidemiologic research on pain, multimorbidity, physical functioning, and geriatric syndromes (e.g., falls, frailty) using a variety of national and community-based data sources. He enjoys collaborating with colleagues and mentoring junior investigators/trainees in epidemiologic research, and is grateful to be supported by a strong research team, including Elise Hoffman, Melanie Herbert, and Neta Simon. He loves living in Seattle with his family, getting outdoors, and #quarantinebaking.



March 2021

Flora M. Li, MD is a cardiothoracic fellow mentored by Dr. Burkhard Mackensen and Dr. Mark Reisman.  Her current research initially began utilizing measurements performed on 3D transesophageal echocardiography to improve procedural imaging guidance for the Watchman procedure, which was presented at the Best of Meeting oral presentation at the Society for Cardiothoracic Anesthesia’s annual meeting.  Currently, she examines procedural, echocardiographic, and functional outcomes in patients who undergo the cutting-edge interventional cardiology procedures at UWMC such as the Mitraclip procedure.

Dr. Li earned her bachelor’s degree at Caltech and her MD from the University of California, San Diego.  She matched at UW for residency and the APM Bonica Scholars program.  Her early interest in critically ill patients, cardiac physiology, and echocardiography led to her choice in anesthesiology.  She knew an anesthesiology residency would give her a strong background in physiology and pharmacology as well as offer opportunities to work with challenging cardiac patients by sub-specializing in cardiac anesthesiology.  As part of the Bonica Scholar’s Program, she conducted retrospective research on the relationship between left ventricular strain and functional outcomes for MitraClip patients.

Following the fellowship, Dr. Li’s goal is to join the cardiac anesthesiology group at a major academic center and remain active in both the clinical and research realms.  She would like to remain involved in trainee education and mentorship.  Her mentors have been instrumental to where she is today, and she looks forward to doing the same for trainees.  Her time in the cardiothoracic division has given her a deep appreciated of the camaraderie and common mission of excellent patient care that connects the cardiac anesthesiology and cardiac procedural teams.

As someone who grew up in a dry climate, Dr. Li loves being in Seattle and its surrounding water, mountains, and forests.  The city is beautiful and full of fun corners to discover, and it is so easy to get out into nature nearby.   We wish her all the best in her future endeavors!


February 2021

Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center: Reducing Injury Among Vulnerable Populations

Founded in 1985, the University of Washington Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center (HIPRC) is a worldwide leader in injury research, outreach and education and training.  For over 30 years, HIPRC has conducted rigorous research in the areas of injury prevention, injury care, and public health consequences of violence. HIPRC’s mission is to reduce the impact of injury and violence on all people’s lives. Our vision is to achieve health equity across all ages and groups through interdisciplinary research, education, training, and public awareness.

HIPRC’s director Monica S. Vavilala MD, a professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, is joined by a multidisciplinary, collaborative leadership team from multiple departments and organizations within the UW and elsewhere. Our faculty and staff are devoted to programs aimed at diminishing the personal impact of trauma and broadening the effectiveness of injury prevention and treatment programs regionally, nationally, and internationally.

HIPRC’s research priorities include global injury, injury care, safe & active transportation, traumatic brain injury, development and evaluation of violence prevention programs, and firearm injury & policy.

HIPRC works to:

  • Track the type, causes, treatment and consequences of injury
  • Use epidemiological tools to identify risk factors for injury
  • Develop and evaluate new injury-prevention programs, using behavior change, community education, government action, and product environment modification
  • Develop more effective ways to resuscitate and treat injury victims
  • Improve rehabilitation strategies by identifying injury-related disability and long-term effects
  • Train new investigators in injury research
  • Educate health professionals, policy makers, and the public about trauma’s magnitude, costs, and prevention

Please visit Year in Review to see notable highlights, core achievements, and project highlights for 2020.

Please visit to learn more about HIPRC. Follow us on social media:  @HIPRC


January 2021

PPiQSO:  Using Data Analytics to Improve Patient Care, Safety and Outcomes 

By Dr. Vikas O’Reilly-Shah, PPiQSO Director

The Center for Perioperative & Pain initiatives in Quality Safety Outcomes (PPiQSO) has evolved significantly over the past year, and we are excited to share how these developments might help YOU! Our mission is to drive improvements to quality of care, patient safety, and outcomes in the perioperative & pain arenas through clinical informatics and innovative technological solutions. To fulfil this mission, PPiQSO remains committed to:

  • Leveraging practical and novel approaches towards the electronic medical record
    Retaining and expanding access to novel data sources and capabilities
    Acquiring or facilitating access to advanced compute resources capable of working on protected health information
    Continued growth in multicenter collaboration
    Meeting the challenges of a dynamic informatic environment

Dr. Drew Walters has taken over leadership of our D:1 efforts from Dr. Wil van Cleve as well as serving as Associate Medical Director for PPiQSO. PPiQSO will collate and prioritize departmental requests for improvements to our Epic implementation. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure we are providing the best evidence-based clinical decision support we can, while also ensuring we are capturing the right kinds of data during routine clinical care. We are excited about the quality and research possibilities offered by being part of the developing UW Medicine Epic Physician Builder program. Finally, we have been and will continue to work with teams across UW Medicine IT and Analytics to ensure we retain access to legacy data (data collected from previous source systems including Cerner and AIMS) as well as transition to data sources from Epic.

Novel data sources expand our abilities in substantive ways. The Department has negotiated access to local ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) data and Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) data. These databases provide high-quality, manually abstracted risk stratification and postoperative outcomes data for a sample of patients undergoing certain general surgery, gynecological, thoracic, and cardiac (CABG and valve) procedures. Linkage with AIMS and other data creates an extremely rich database for investigations in collaboration with our surgical colleagues. Representing only a small part of the contributions from our Senior Software Engineer and Assistant Technical Director Christie Fong, we have also linked EDIE, providing a good source of information about statewide emergency department visits. Christie also contributed substantially to provide the data visualized with MDMetrix, a self-service data visualization tool enabling rapid quality improvement assessment, now freely available to department members.

Additional data sources we can or hope to facilitate access to for specific projects include PainTracker (for pain-related projects), Trauma Quality Improvement Program (TQIP), Transplant, and others. Access is most effective in the context of a specific project, so if you have something specific in mind, please reach out!

Our PGY2 Bonica Scholar Dr. Philip Chung contributed substantially to our purchase of a deep-learning server available for general use by members of the department. This resource is already being used on three natural language processing (NLP) projects. Stay tuned for additional platforms that will be developed as part of ongoing efforts led by our Chief Research Informatics Officer, Dr. Sean Mooney.

Most exciting is growth in multicenter collaboration through the Multicenter Perioperative Outcomes Group (MPOG). Our work with MPOG has been substantially supported by our Research Software Engineer Shu-Fang Newman, whose contributions were recently recognized with her promotion to Assistant Technical Director for Multi-center Outcomes. This work includes a collaboration initiated by Dr. Dustin Long to incorporate new microbiology data into data collected by MPOG; joining of NSQIP and STS to AIMS data for submission to MPOG; the work of Dr. Srdjan Jelacic on cardiac metric development; and my own efforts on pediatric outcome metrics and to begin sub-mission of data from Seattle Children’s to MPOG.

On a bittersweet note, we’d also like to acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Karen Posner, now retired from PPiQSO after service as Interim Director and as Director of Outcomes Research. Her presence and contributions will be sorely missed; she remains on with the Department as Emeritus faculty and continues work on funded projects. Additionally, Dr. Timothy Wu, a postdoctoral fellow with PPiQSO who was heavily involved in work to support the Incentive Plan, departed in September to pursue a career in industry. We wish them both well in their future endeavors!

Shortcut to the PPiQSO public Trello page: