Robert W. Gereau IV, PhD, has accepted the position of inaugural Vice Chair for Research in the Anesthesiology Department at Washington University. Apart from being a highly accomplished and talented neuroscientist, Dr. Gereau is also a visionary and progressive leader. He embodies the aspirational values of our institution, and has consistently created an inclusive culture in which everybody can flourish, and in which diversity of ideas and opinions are encouraged. Dr. Gereau is remarkably dedicated to early stage scientists, and has always prioritized recruiting and mentoring the best and brightest trainees and faculty.
In this important new leadership role, Dr. Gereau will provide tactical and strategic guidance in relation to the complex, multi-faceted, and highly successful research enterprise within the Anesthesiology Department. The priorities for this new role are in alignment with many of the strategic priorities for our Medical School, as outlined this year by Dean David Perlmutter. In particular, Dr. Gereau will spearhead our Department’s efforts to (i) invest in people and programs; (ii) advance personalized medicine; (iii) increase our fundamental understanding of neuroscience; (iv) develop new therapeutic options; and (v) attract, invest in and develop outstanding investigators. He will also continue with his own long-standing efforts to promote collaboration and innovation across the translational science continuum.
Dr. Gereau is the Dr. Seymour Brown and Rose T. Brown Professor of Anesthesiology, Professor of Neuroscience, Director of the Washington University Pain Center, and Director of the Division of Basic Research. He graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biology from what is now Missouri State University. He earned his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Emory University School of Medicine and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies before becoming an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine in 1998. He joined the Washington University faculty in 2004.
He is a renowned investigator in the field of pain neurobiology. His studies, which aim to understand molecular mechanisms of pain sensitization, include both fundamental laboratory research and translational research. Dr. Gereau’s lab focuses on determining the cellular and molecular changes that underlie the development of chronic pain conditions. More recently, his laboratory has been involved in studies using optogenetics, which uses light signals to activate or deactivate nerve cells responsible for transmitting pain signals from the periphery to the brain. He is using tiny, light-emitting devices to map the molecular and cellular properties of neural circuits to better understand how they transmit pain after nerve injury. Being able to visualize how the circuits connect and transmit pain signals could allow for the development of new treatments.
Dr. Gereau’s research has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for more than 20 years, and he has served as a member and chair of multiple NIH study sections. He also serves on several editorial boards for scientific journals and is a former member of the board of directors of the American Pain Society. Among his many honors is a 2012 NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award and selection in 2018 as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Gereau is a highly sought after speaker internationally and has authored more than 120 peer reviewed publications.
Knowledge generation and cutting-edge science are top priorities for Washington University and for our Department. Dr. Gereau is highly qualified to be our standard bearer in helping to ensure that we nurture and attract the most talented scientists, and that we develop and build the most innovative research programs. We are delighted that Dr. Gereau has accepted this key leadership position, and we look forward to many more years of scientific growth and innovative research collaborations!
Michael Avidan, MBBCh, FCASA
Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown of Anesthesiology
Head of the Department of Anesthesiology