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June 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 6
13TH FAER Honorary Research Lecture: Charles W. Emala, Sr., M.S., M.D. to Speak on Peripheral GABAA Receptors Margaret Wood, M.B., Ch.B. Board of Directors, Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research


The Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) created the Honorary Research Lecture to recognize outstanding scholarship by an anesthesiologist and encourage other anesthesiologists to undertake careers in research and teaching. This year’s lecturer, who will present during the ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2013 annual meet-ing, certainly exceeds these objectives.

The 13th Annual FAER Honorary Research Lecturer is Charles W. Emala, Sr., M.S., M.D., Henrik H. Bendixen Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Anesthesiology, Columbia University, New York.

Dr. Emala’s lecture is titled “Peripheral GABAA Receptors: Unrecognized Anes-thetic Targets?” Chloride flux through GABAA receptors in the central nervous system is the primary inhibitory current in mature neurons. GABAA receptors in the central nervous system are a recognized target of many classes of anesthetics. GABAA receptors are expressed on many peripheral cells and may represent unrecognized targets of anesthetics that facilitate many “non-anesthetic” physiologic effects.

Through his lecture, Dr. Emala will illustrate the diverse number of peripheral cells and organs that express GABAA receptors and present emerging evidence that anesthetics modulate peripheral cellular events via these peripheral GABAA receptors.

Dr. Emala received undergraduate and master’s degrees in microbiology, as well as his medical degree, from the University of Maryland. After an internship in internal medicine, he completed a clinical residency in anesthesiology and fellowship in regional anesthesia and pain from Johns Hopkins University. He then joined the anesthesiology faculty at Johns Hopkins and embarked on studies to understand basic G protein-coupled mediated signaling pathways that control airway smooth muscle contraction and relaxation.

In 1998, he moved to Columbia University in New York where he continued studies on nerve, epithelial and smooth muscle interactions in the control of airway tone. He elucidated the mechanisms by which some neuromuscular muscle relaxants interact with airway muscarinic receptors to precipitate bronchospasm.

Dr. Emala has been an NIH-funded investigator for 25 years. His current interest focuses on novel therapeutic targets for the acute relief of bronchoconstriction with a specific interest in phytochemicals and therapeutics targeting chloride channels in airway smooth muscle.

Throughout his career, Dr. Emala has received several honors and has served in numerous leadership and volunteer roles. Dr. Emala received a FAER Research Starter Grant in 1996 and was nominated into the FAER Academy of Research Mentors in Anesthesiology in 2008. He currently serves as the chair of the Association of University Anesthesiologists (AUA) Scientific Advisory Board, and he is on the editorial board of the American Journal of Physiology: Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology. In addition, Dr. Emala has served on multiple NIH study sections and has been instrumental in the New York State Society of Anesthesiologists Post-Graduate Assembly resident research contest.

Dr. Emala’s career as a physician-scientist, mentor and educator has been inspiring and significant. His generosity as a mentor in guiding the next generation of academic leaders in anesthesiology is legendary; I am confident that Dr. Emala’s FAER lecture at the annual meeting this year will be one that we will all enjoy.



Margaret Wood, M.B.,Ch.B. is E.M. Papper Professor and Chair, Department of Anesthesiology, Columbia University, New York, New York.


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