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Sunny Lou, MD, PhD, earns 2022 IARS Mentored Research Award

Sunny Lou

Dr. Sunny Lou has been awarded the 2022 International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS) Mentored Research Award for her project “Intelligent Clinical Decision Support for Perioperative Blood Management.”

Approximately one million surgical procedures require life-saving blood transfusion each year. Presurgical preparation is imperative to allow for a safe and timely transfusion during surgery—however, excessive preparation is common, costly, and contributes to blood waste. Statistics show that $10 billion dollars are spent each year on presurgical blood orders, yet less than 20 percent of patients with such orders require transfusion.

“This study aims to develop an intelligent clinical decision support system that can accurately estimate the risk of transfusion to guide decision-making for presurgical blood orders,” said Dr. Lou. “This will improve patient safety while reducing blood waste and healthcare costs.”

Dr. Lou recently graduated from the department’s Academic Scholars Advancement Program (ASAP) which was designed to accelerate the careers of physician-scientists in anesthesiology and position them to make groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Upon completing the ASAP, Dr. Lou joined the Division of Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology and also has a research appointment in the Division of Clinical and Translational Research (DoCTR), with a joint appointment with the Institute for Informatics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

“This project is an innovative translational project that focuses on building intelligent clinical decision support tools. This is one of the first projects that is looking to bring AI-assisted decision support to the point-of-care (in this case for predicting blood transfusion risk),” says Thomas Kannampallil, PhD, FAMIA, associate chief research information officer at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “It is also truly interdisciplinary drawing on insights from clinical medicine, data science and AI, informatics, and implementation and can serve as a guidepost for future studies on AI implementation.”

The IARS Mentored Research Awards support the development of four promising investigators in anesthesiology and related sciences every year. The grants are intended to help create future leaders and prepare applicants to apply for independent research funding. Learn more about the annual award, current and past recipients, and Dr. Lou’s research on the IARS website.