Charles Beattie, PhD, MD, was named Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology on April 15, 1994, and he led the department until September 1, 2001.
Dr. Beattie was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He attended the University of Louisville JB Speed Scientific School from which he received his Bachelor and Master of Chemical Engineering. During his Master's work, he became interested in the new field of nuclear engineering. In 1963, he was one of a small group of graduate students in the U.S. to receive the Atomic Energy Commission Special Fellowship in Nuclear Science and Engineering. His work in the New York University Department of Nuclear Engineering led to the PhD in Reactor Physics in 1971. At the time of graduation, he experienced a serendipitous discovery of Wilder Penfield’s classic text, “Speech and Brain Mechanisms.” The prospect of working in a profession that deals with understanding the brain was so compelling that Dr. Beattie decided to change careers and enter medical school. During medical studies at the University of Kentucky, he was attracted to anesthesiology by Mark Ravin, MD, and Robert Donham, PhD, M.D., the latter serving as his mentor through residency. Dr. Beattie was recruited to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore by Mark C. Rogers, MD. For 13 years, he directed the division of Critical Care Anesthesia which provided anesthesia services for critically ill patients who were undergoing vascular, thoracic, liver transplant and major abdominal surgery.
Dr. Beattie’s academic interests focused in the area of clinical research. He observed that published clinical trials comparing anesthesia techniques produced conflicting and uninterpretable results because of failure to create and implement protocols and to appropriately manage their control groups. To address this issue, Dr. Beattie and his group (including Rose Christopherson, PhD, M.D. and Steven Frank, M.D.) applied for and received NIH funding for the “Perioperative Ischemia Randomized Anesthesia Trial.” The results of this study led to many publications, several accompanied by editorials lauding the design. Dr. Beattie and his group (including Edward Norris, M.D. and Peter Rock, M.D.) were awarded a second NIH grant to address “Methods of Anesthesia and Analgesia in Aortic Surgery,” which successfully blinded anesthesia, intensive care and pain management teams to the type of anesthesia and analgesia used in each group.
While at Hopkins, Dr. Beattie progressively assumed administrative responsibilities, first as associate and then as Clinical Director. Upon the departure of Dr. Rogers in 1992, Dr. Beattie was named Interim Chairman. He was interested in physician impairment, serving on the Physician Rehabilitation Committee of Maryland. In association with Richard Kilburg, PhD, he guided development of the still-active faculty and staff assistance program at Hopkins. Dr. Beattie was an active and highly-rated teacher who twice won the “Best Teacher” award. His clinical skills were recognized in 1991 when he was among a small number of anesthesiologists listed by Baltimore Magazine as “Best Specialists” in the area.
Interested in difficult airway management for many years, Dr. Beattie was among the first group of clinicians to employ fiberoptic bronchoscopes to assist endotracheal intubations. He was founding vice president of the American Society of Airway Management and was invited to present the first annual Ovassapian Lecture of the Society. In 1995, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Kentucky Anesthesiology Department.
Dr. Beattie came to Vanderbilt as Professor and Chairman of Anesthesiology in 1994, a time of complex issues both locally and nationally. He found opportunities to fully engage his interests in Resident Education, Research, Administration, and Clinical Care. With enthusiastic participation by selected existing faculty and serious recruiting successes (including Jeffery Balser, MD, PhD), the department evolved to national stature, ranking twelfth in NIH funding. The residency program became competitive for the most qualified candidates. Clinical care was subspecialized. Dr. Beattie is a proponent of anesthesiology as the practice of perioperative medicine. This model was developed and practiced at Vanderbilt in association with certain surgical services. Dr. Beattie promoted and sponsored the creation of a perioperative information management system at Vanderbilt. The system was designed to facilitate clinical care, documentation, research, teaching and billings and collections. The system has since won national awards.
Dr. Beattie served the NIH as special study-section reviewer, expert panelist, and perioperative medicine advisory committee member and was the site principal investigator for the mutli-institutional NIH sponsored clinical trial “Elder Surgery: Functional Recovery following Beta Blockade.” (P.I.-Jeffery Silverstein, MD) Dr. Beattie authored or co-authored more than 150 publications. He was chosen to write the chapter, “History and Principles of Anesthesia,” in Goodman and Gilman’s, 10th edition of the Pharmacologic Basis of Therapeutics, 2001.