School of Medicine

Michael Avidan named head of anesthesiology

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

With great pleasure, I am writing to you to announce that Dr. Michael Avidan has accepted the position of head of the Department of Anesthesiology, effective July 1. Michael is currently the Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor of Anesthesiology, a professor of surgery, chief of the Division of Clinical and Translational Research, director of Infrastructure for Quality Improvement, Research and Informatics, and co-director of the Anesthesiology Postdoctoral Research Training Program within the Department of Anesthesiology here at Washington University School of Medicine. We are very fortunate to have another distinguished clinician-scientist take on the leadership of what is now one of the most successful and innovative anesthesiology programs in the U.S.

Michael began his career in his native South Africa. He earned his MBBCh (MD equivalent) in 1991 from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He then completed his residency in anesthesiology and intensive care in South Africa, and received his fellowship certification from the South African College of Medicine in 1996. From 1997 to 2000, he served as a clinical lecturer in cardiothoracic anesthesiology and general adult intensive care at King’s College Hospital in London, England, and then joined our faculty in 2001. He became a full professor in 2011. He has held a variety of leadership positions in our anesthesiology department, including director of the cardiothoracic anesthesiology fellowship program, chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology, as well as his current positions.

Michael has had a distinguished career as a clinical researcher in many areas of anesthesiology and intensive care practice, but particularly in investigating the evidence for clinical interventions that impact neurological sequelae of general anesthesia and surgery. Between 2006 and 2012, he conducted three large clinical trials in the U.S. and Canada focused on the prevention of intraoperative awareness. This line of investigation has yielded influential publications, including two articles in The New England Journal of Medicine. The findings have had a major impact on intraoperative monitoring techniques.

In 2017, he published the findings of an international, multicenter clinical trial in Lancet, providing strong evidence that intraoperative ketamine probably does not prevent postoperative delirium. In other important studies, his work led to the recognition that surgery and anesthesia likely do not hasten the onset of dementia or accelerate persistent cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. His clinical research program has been well-supported by NIH grants, including a UH3 award for studies of electroencephalographic monitoring during anesthesia and a new R01 award that will investigate the impact of a telemedicine “control tower” for quality and safety in the operating room.

As a teacher and mentor, Michael has won numerous awards for educational efforts with medical students, residents and fellows. He was recognized by his peers with the Samuel R. Goldstein Leadership Award in Medical Student Education in 2007 and in recent years has played a lead role in establishing the Early Stage Anesthesiology Scholars’ group, and also secured an NIGMS R13 grant to support academic development of early stage anesthesiology scholars in research across the translational spectrum.

Well-respected nationally and internationally, Michael is the president of the Association of University Anesthesiologists and serves as a trustee of the International Anesthesia Research Society, the two most prominent international societies supporting academic anesthesiology. He is also a board member and editor of one of the world’s leading journals in the area, the British Journal of Anaesthesia.

On behalf of the Executive Faculty, university leadership and our partners leading BJC HealthCare, I want to thank Michael for taking on this important role leading our superb anesthesiology department into a new era of excellence in clinical care, education and training, and research to produce even better outcomes in the future. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Alex Evers for his extraordinary leadership over many years. Alex’s accomplishments with faculty, staff and trainees of the Department of Anesthesiology have led to seminal and innovative advances in operative and peri-operative care as well as intensive care and pain management. These accomplishments together with his impact more broadly, as a member of the Executive Faculty and working with our partners at BJC HealthCare, have indelibly enhanced Washington University’s reputation as a world leader in medicine and health care.


David H. Perlmutter, MD
Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs
Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor
George and Carol Bauer Dean, School of Medicine