Some Thoughts on Giving from Our Chair, Warren S. Sandberg, MD, PhD
In times of leadership transition, it is healthy and useful to reflect on our successes and the challenges that lie ahead. Vanderbilt Anesthesiology has devoted considerable resources to advancing research in our field, to providing innovative training and education, and to extending meaningful outreach into the developing world through local training and service provision. We have successfully resisted the pressure to furl these sails of optimism and outreach, and to batten the hatches by becoming a pure “service” department. With your generous help, we can continue this vibrant tradition of creativity and outreach.
Over the past decade, the Vanderbilt Department of Anesthesiology has successfully expanded its research enterprise, well supported by NIH and other grant sources. We have done this by investing our valuable time and financial resources in the development of clinician scientists and educators. As a result, we and our collaborators have begun to answer important questions such as, “How do anesthetics work? Are there genetic predictors of how patients respond to medications? What causes delirium? How can computers improve patient safety? How can simulation improve training?” These are but a few of the questions that must be answered to advance our specialty to a new level of effectiveness and safety. Our successes are coming at a critical time, as we realize that perioperative medicine has a long-lasting and far-reaching impact on patient outcomes and quality of life.
Although our grant funding is strong, economic pressures have forced extramural granting agencies such as the NIH to cut funding for even well-established Vanderbilt investigators. Moreover, Vanderbilt Anesthesia is somewhat a victim of its own success in innovation, pushing the frontiers of discovery into innovative and speculative domains that are too risky and cutting-edge for traditional grant funding. Governmental sources will not fund many innovative research and educational programs such as “discovery” grants and lectureships. Nor do they fund fellowships and professorships which allow us to attract the best and brightest minds to Vanderbilt. Only with your support can we fund these activities.
Recent events in Haiti, Chile and Indonesia (to name but a few) focus our attention on Vanderbilt’s long and deep tradition of international outreach. Under the auspices of Vanderbilt International Anesthesia, we post clinicians and trainees all over the world, not merely to provide service, but more importantly to teach local clinicians to provide safe, effective anesthesia care. In the words of the proverb, we teach fishing. Taking clinicians out of our ORs and compensating them to teach and provide care throughout the developing world is an enormous financial commitment that our department is committed to meeting, but again, your support is critical to maximizing the value of this effort. Contributing to support Vanderbilt’s international outreach does good on so many levels – but more than anything, your contribution can be leveraged into a lifetime of safe anesthesia provided by a local clinician trained with your support.
Vanderbilt Anesthesiology Alumni Affairs & Development
1211 21st Avenue South, 701 MAB
Nashville, TN 37212-1050
Tel: (615) 936-1595 Fax: (615) 343-7246