School of Medicine

Avidan named head of anesthesiology

Dr. Michael Avidan works the Anesthesia Control Tower, on February 7, 2018, in the Northwest Tower, where he and his team monitor what is happening in every operating room. Avidan contacts each OR and talks with them if he sees issues. (Photo: Matt Miller)

Michael S. Avidan, MBBCh, has been named head of the Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. In that position, he also will become anesthesiologist-in-chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Avidan will begin in his new role July 1.

Avidan currently is the Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor of Anesthesiology at the School of Medicine. His new appointment was announced by David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, the George and Carol Bauer Dean of the School of Medicine, and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor.

“We are fortunate that Michael, a distinguished clinician-scientist, has agreed to take on the leadership of what already is one of the most successful and innovative anesthesiology programs in the U.S.,” Perlmutter said. “I’m confident he will build on the great work that current department head Alex Evers has done in that role for the past 27 years.”

Avidan is director of the Division of Clinical and Translational Research; director of the department’s Infrastructure for Quality Improvement, Research and Informatics; and co-director of the Anesthesiology Postdoctoral Research Training Program.

He succeeds Alex S. Evers, MD, who became interim head of anesthesiology in 1992 and assumed the permanent post in 1994.

“I want to thank Alex Evers for his extraordinary leadership over many years,” Perlmutter said. “His accomplishments with faculty, staff and trainees have led to seminal and innovative advances in operative and perioperative care, as well as in intensive care and pain management, and have enhanced Washington University’s reputation as a world leader in medicine and health care.”

Avidan’s research delves into many areas of anesthesiology and intensive care practice. He has focused particularly on investigating the effectiveness of interventions to prevent neurologic complications associated with surgery and general anesthesia. From 2006 through 2012, he led three large clinical trials in the U.S. and Canada that focused on the prevention of intraoperative awareness, when patients regain consciousness to the point where they retain memories of surgery. The findings from those studies have been widely disseminated, including in two highly cited papers in The New England Journal of Medicine, and have had a major impact on monitoring techniques now widely employed during surgery. He also led an international, multicenter trial, with results published in Lancet, that provided strong evidence that administering a low dose of the drug ketamine during surgery probably does not prevent delirium or pain postoperatively.

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