The Anesthesia Research Council: Hard @ Work

Author: James Eisenach, MD; FAER President

April 9, 2021

Eisenach, James In 2018 FAER joined an American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS) initiative to identify areas of collaboration for education and research in anesthesiology. By the end of the following year the first formal collaboration, the Anesthesia Research Council (ARC), was approved and funded jointly by the Boards of all three organizations. Fashioned after the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, the ARC aims to address critical questions and challenges in research relevant to advancing science and patient care in anesthesiology. In each of the three years in the initial funding period, the ARC Steering Committee, chaired by Dr. Max Kelz at the University of Pennsylvania, will identify a topic, create a focused scope of work, and appoint a Working Group and Chair to address the topic.

The goal of ARC is not to choose the hottest topics for research in the specialty, but rather to address underlying challenges, often relevant to many topics, which need attention for research to flourish. This is exemplified by the first two topics identified by the Steering Committee, which focus on people and on infrastructure. The first Working Group, which will complete and report their work at this Fall’s in-person ASA annual meeting, is chaired by Dr. Charles Emala from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and focuses on people. Specifically, they are tasked to report on the status, challenges, and approaches to improve the pathway or pipeline of physician-scientists who enter and develop in our specialty. Anesthesiologists compete for federal research funds at or above the average for all medical specialties, but the number of researchers in our specialty is well below the average. We anticipate that the report from this Working Group will assist FAER and other societies in developing new and different types of programs which might address the causes of this hindrance to scientific advancement in anesthesiology. It will also assist the ASA as they educate congressional staffers on the slow progress in important topics of research that anesthesiologists address.

The second Working Group, which will complete and report their work at the 2022 ASA annual meeting, is chaired by Drs. Michael Gropper from the University of California, San Francisco and Daniel Talmor from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and focuses on infrastructure. Specifically, they will report on the factors and culture which have led to flourishing of large, multi-center clinical investigations in other specialties in the U.S. and in anesthesiology in other countries. Compared to other specialties in the U.S. and our own specialty abroad, the number of such large clinical studies addressing topics on concerns of major public health significance performed by American anesthesiologists is small. The report will likely lead to educational efforts within our specialty and at federal agencies to facilitate growth in training and support for these methods, which are critical to provide high-level evidence that can lead to implementation of changes in clinical practice.

I am proud that FAER is participating as a leader in this effort, believe that it sits squarely in our mission of developing physician-scientists in anesthesiology, and look very much forward to seeing the results of these initial efforts by ARC and applying them to the work FAER does. I hope to see you in San Diego at their inaugural report in October!