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Advancing Anesthesiology: Highlights from the 70th Annual AUA Meeting at Washington University

Washington University in St. Louis had the honor of hosting the Association of University Anesthesiologists (AUA) for its 70th Annual Meeting at the Charles F. Knight Executive Education & Conference Center on March 22-24. The 2024 AUA Annual Meeting brought together esteemed experts and scholars in academic anesthesiology marking this occasion as the AUA’s first university-affiliated meeting in over a decade.

Prior to the formal kick-off of the annual meeting, a series of engaging pre-meeting events set the stage for the main conference, among them the prestigious C.R. Stephen Lecture

This annual lecture series, named in tribute to C. Ronald Stephen, MD, FFARCS, who served as the first chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine, remains a cornerstone event for the department each year. This year, Carolyn S. Calfee, MD, MAS, a renowned professor of medicine and anesthesia at the University of California, San Francisco, delivered the lecture. Her presentation, titled “Molecular Phenotyping of Critical Illness: Is it Time for Precision Critical Care?” provided critical insights into the newest developments and treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and the evolving landscape of critical care medicine.”

The second day of the conference commenced with an inspiring welcome address by AUA President George A. Mashour, MD, PhD. He set the stage for the day’s discussions by introducing keynote speaker Wilson M. Compton, MD, MPE, Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), who shared critical insights on drug abuse and its implications in anesthesiology.

Highlighting the contributions of our own institution, Dolores Njoku, MD, Vice Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, Division Chief of Pediatric Anesthesiology, and Anesthesiologist-in-Chief at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, played a significant role in enriching the dialogue throughout the conference. Njoku shared her expertise as a panelist in several sessions, notably the ‘Scientific Advisory Board Panel – Building and Sustaining Anesthesiology Research’ and the ‘Women in Academic Anesthesiology Networking Breakfast.’ These forums featured an array of experts and addressed both the challenges and strategies in advancing anesthesiology research and fostering academic success. 

The conference also highlighted presentations from other notable WashU faculty members. Crickette Sanz, PhD, Professor of Biological Anthropology, offered insights into the behavioral diversity of wild chimpanzee populations and primate evolution. Additionally, Jeffrey Gordon, MD, Professor of Pathology & Immunology, Developmental Biology, and Molecular Microbiology, shared groundbreaking research on the human gut microbiome’s impact on health and disease. Gordon is widely considered the father of the field of gut microbiome research and his work has greatly advanced understanding of human health and physiology.

Poster presentations were a significant component of the conference, highlighting groundbreaking research and advancements in anesthesiology. WashU’s Department of Anesthesiology was prominently represented, with 24 members presenting their research to conference attendees. 

Among these contributors, Instructor of Anesthesiology, Benjamin Sanofsky, MD, was honored as the recipient of the AUA Junior Faculty Pediatric Anesthesia Research Award. This accolade celebrates the outstanding contributions of early-career faculty in pediatric anesthesia research. Sanofsky’s research, titled “The Use of Personalized Music to Decrease Pediatric Emergence Agitation: A Multicenter Pilot Study,” investigates the impactful use of music in medical settings. His work showcases a dedication to pioneering new methos for enhancing patient care outcomes, emphasizing the potential of music as a therapeutic tool. Learn more >>

The Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University in St. Louis was grateful for the opportunity to have participated in the Annual AUA Meeting and was honored to have hosted this year’s prestigious event.