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WashU’s Department of Anesthesiology ranks No. 2 nationally in NIH research funding

The Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis ranked No. 2 nationwide among anesthesiology departments in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to the 2023 Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research (BRIMR) rankings.

The BRIMR compiles data from over 50 anesthesiology departments across the U.S. and its rankings are often cited as an indicator of academic success and national reputation. The department has ranked in the top four for over 15 consecutive years.

The department received over $23.7 million in federal funding from the NIH and over $3.4 million of additional external support. In total, researchers in the department were awarded over $27.1 million in NIH fiscal year 2023. This project portfolio includes 9 K awards, 3 F grants, 46 R grants, 1 T32 grant, 2 program project grants, and 8 U awards.

“Year after year, I continue to be impressed by the exceptional faculty and trainees within our department and the funding they’ve secured to advance their research,” said the Head of the Department of Anesthesiology, Michael S. Avidan, MBBCh, FCA SA. “They are addressing some of the most complex challenges in their respective fields, and the ripple effect of their efforts promises a far-reaching impact.”

Several department faculty researchers in the Top 50 ranking this past year include:

Robert Gereau, PhD
Dr. Seymour & Rose T. Brown Professor of Anesthesiology, Division Chief for the WashU Pain Center, and Vice Chair for Research 
The Gereau Lab focuses on novel approaches to provide new therapeutic strategies to reduce pain and its impact on patient quality of life.

Dr. Gereau is the Principal Investigator on an ongoing U19 center grant that involves several departments across WashU Medicine. The project’s goal is to map the genes and cells associated with various types of pain, focusing on the peripheral nerves and spinal cord, to provide important new information to help with the development of new therapies.

Bryan Copits, PhD
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
The Copits Lab studies how different types of neurons are assembled into functional circuits.

Dr. Copits was awarded a $1.67 million multiyear NIH BRAIN Initiative UF1 grant. This grant aims to develop new light sensitive tools to dynamically control user-defined sets of connections between brain cells (synapses). 

Meaghan Creed, PhD
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology
The Creed Lab focuses on synaptic plasticity and neuromodulation within defined neural circuits in the ventral basal ganglia: the networks involved in reward-guided decision making, learning and selection of flexible behavioral strategies.

Dr. Creed was awarded two new R01s in 2023 (for a total of three current R01 grants), including a project with Assistant Professor, Vijay Samineni, PhD. This project’s long-term goal is to elucidate the molecular and neural circuit basis of punishment-resistant opioid self-administration, and to leverage this understanding to develop targeted therapies to prevent or reverse the transition to punishment-resistant opioid intake in patients with opioid use disorder.

Qin Liu, PhD
Professor of Anesthesiology
The Liu Lab focuses on the peripheral neural mechanisms of somatosensations, including itch, pain and mechanosensation.

Dr. Liu was awarded her third R01 in 2023. Her new project will advance the understanding of the neural mechanisms behind lacrimation and unravel new drug targets for treating lacrimal deficiency, which is an essential mechanism that lubricates eyes and helps reduce eye irritants and microbial infections.

“Our scientists in the Department of Anesthesiology are unparalleled,” said the Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor of Anesthesiology and Vice Chair for Research, Robert Gereau, PhD. “I am so grateful to work with such brilliant and talented individuals—all striving to advance the most innovative research discoveries.” 

In addition to the department’s impressive rankings, WashU Medicine also ranked #2 for national funding to academic medical centers with nearly $583.6 million in research grants from the NIH.

As we look towards the future, WashU’s Department of Anesthesiology remains dedicated to pioneering research and pushing the boundaries of science. We invite you to delve deeper into our ongoing projects and discoveries, as we continue our mission to improve patient care and shape the future of healthcare.

Learn more about research in the Department of Anesthesiology.