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Robert Swarm, MD, stepping down as Division Chief of Pain Management and Director of Pain Management Center

Robert Swarm, MD

An announcement from Drs. Robert Gereau and Michael Avidan:

It is with much admiration and sincere gratitude that we reflect on Dr. Robert Swarm’s many contributions to our department, to Washington University School of Medicine, and to BJC HealthCare over the years. It is thus with mixed emotions that we announce that Dr. Swarm has stepped down as Division Chief of Pain Management in Washington University’s Department of Anesthesiology and as Director of the Pain Management Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Dr. Swarm has led pain management in Anesthesiology for almost three decades. Under Dr. Swarm’s leadership, the Pain Management Division has enjoyed substantial growth and has had a remarkably positive impact on the patients we serve. After establishing multidisciplinary pain management at BJH, Dr. Swarm led the expansion of our pain clinics to Barnes West County and Missouri Baptist Hospitals, providing better access to care for patients across our St. Louis community. Apart from being an inspirational and dedicated division chief, Dr. Swarm is also widely recognized for being an exemplary and compassionate clinician. He embodies all the qualities of leadership and advocacy that we value and to which we aspire. During his tenure as a master clinician, he was recognized with the Neville Grant Award for Clinical Excellence, an honor that underlines his many outstanding qualities as a physician.

Dr. Swarm graduated as a physician from Washington University School of Medicine in 1983 and from our anesthesiology residency program, where he was chief resident, in 1989. He completed a prestigious fellowship in pain management in Sydney, Australia, and then returned to a faculty position in Anesthesiology at Washington University. Dr. Swarm rapidly took on essential pain management leadership roles, and in 1996 accepted the challenge of becoming the first pain management Division Chief, a position he has held ever since. Our Pain Medicine Fellowship, which he helped establish in 1993 and then served as Program Director until 2011, has trained 70 pain specialists to date and remains the only ACGME-accredited Pain Fellowship in Missouri. Dr. Swarm has contributed through numerous national and international presentations as well as several medical publications. He has served as the Panel Chair of the Adult Cancer Pain Panel for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) since 2006 and is also a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of the NCCN. He has notably played important roles in managing major societal threats to health, including the ongoing crisis of untreated pain, the opioid misuse epidemic, and COVID-19. In the face of these challenges, he has provided sophisticated and dispassionate guidance, contributing substantially to our successes at WUSM and BJC in navigating through these challenges.  
 
Dr. Swarm has shown exemplary leadership throughout his tenure, and we are extremely fortunate that he will continue his clinical and scholarly pursuits in the Pain Management Division and remain a critical mentor to residents and pain fellows. Perhaps Dr. Swarm’s most important contributions have been as a teacher, sponsor, and mentor having trained and inspired many leaders in pain management who are now in key leadership positions across the country. One of Dr. Swarm’s mentees is Dr. Lesley Rao, who has been serving as the Associate Division Chief in the Pain Management Division (view announcement). Dr. Rao has kindly agreed to serve as the interim Division Chief of the Pain Management Division while we engage in a search for the new Division Chief. 
 
Please join us in thanking Dr. Swarm for everything he has done and continues to do for our Pain Management Division, our Anesthesiology Department, WUSM, BJC HealthCare, and especially the patients and communities we serve. 

Robert W. Gereau IV, PhD
Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor 
Vice Chair for Research, Department of Anesthesiology
Director | Washington University Pain Center

Michael S. Avidan, MBBCh, FCASA
Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor of Anesthesiology
Head of the Department of Anesthesiology
Anesthesiologist-in-Chief, Barnes-Jewish Hospital