Department of
Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine

Resident Research

Director: Tetsuro Sakai, MD, PhD, MHA

Within our Anesthesiology Residency Program, opportunities for resident-driven research are numerous and broad. Our department had over $10 million in basic and clinical research funding in 2020, of which over $6.8 million was from the NIH.

Resident Scholarly Education: Our Facilitation Method

We are active in training the next generation of top researchers. At the same time, we have established a unique resident scholarly activity facilitation system, supporting ALL residents in their scholarly endeavors since 2006. Through the system, our anesthesiology residents have a significantly higher chance of becoming the author of a peer-reviewed publication than the non-UPMC residents.


We believe that residents can be very productive as part of our CBY program. We encourage an early kick-start of scholarly activity. All CBY interns systematically have the opportunity to launch their scholarly activity during the Anesthesiology Professional Practice (APP) rotation, which occurs in September-October each year. The one-month APP rotation provides a formal curriculum on the principles of research, as well as ample exposure to academic faculty to take advantage of research opportunities and resources formally. The APP rotation has been shown to increase resident engagement in scholarly activity, and many residents have published peer-reviewed articles based on their work done as a CBY resident.

PGY-2 and PGY-3

On-going scholarly educational opportunities (ex. Research PBLD) are provided, and many residents have represented our department at numerous state and national meetings, including the ASA annual meeting. Some residents work with faculty mentors to become primary investigators of Department Educational Seed Grants. Select residents interested in careers in academic research may take up to three months of their ACGME-allowed research time (see details below) during the PGY-2 & PGY-3 years if justified by their research goals.


Because our residents will have experienced most of the ACGME-required clinical cases by their PGY-4 year, their final residency year schedule is very flexible. An elective Resident Research Rotation (Director: Tetsuro Sakai, MD, PhD, MHA) has been very popular, where up to six months can be spent pursuing the answers to clinical or basic science questions. Annually, 20-50% of residents elect this rotation. Some notable resident’ activities during this rotation are:

  • Richard Hubbard, MD (Class of 2017) spent two months at a pediatric hospital in Bangladesh for a clinical study on the use of surfactant for pediatric respiratory distress syndrome.
  • Philip Carullo, MD (Class of 2019) developed and patented a device called the “Esophocculuder” to prevent aspiration pneumonitis at the induction of general anesthesia. He secured a department seed grant and tested the device on a porcine model (see P62 of Pittsburgh Journal of Anesthesiology, 2016). 

Diverse Research Areas and Active Faculty Mentors

Within this active research environment, interns and residents of all levels are encouraged to participate in projects ranging from basic research, clinical, and translational science (education, simulation, patient safety, QI, and many other areas). Some of the unique features are:

  • Active NIH-sponsored research on anesthetic mechanisms utilizes the latest in NMR and MRI technology, headed by Yan Xu, PhD 
  • We are the administrative home to the Pittsburgh Center for Pain Research, a multidisciplinary effort of basic and clinical scientists engaging in pain mechanism and pain management research.
  • We maintain an industry-sponsored Clinical Research Program, with 19 active trials currently in progress.
  • Through our strong ties with WISER, residents can work on cutting-edge simulation research.
  • As the largest anesthesiology department in the US, our department’s practice management team headed by Mark Hudson, MD, MBA has won numerous research awards at several annual ASA Practice Management Meetings.
  • Functional neuroimaging studies from our perioperative neuroscience research group led to an internationally-recognized resident abstract at the International Anesthesia Research Society annual meeting, with faculty mentors Keith Vogt, MD, PhD and Jim Ibinson, MD, PhD.
  • Perioperative data mining research, mentored by A. Murat Kaynar, MD, MPH, as well as other department faculty, recently led to a resident invited talk and resident abstract award at the Association of University Anesthesiologists annual meeting.
  • Educational research, mentored by David Metro, MD, FASA, has led to many resident abstracts and publications.

Resident Scholarly Output

Given our robust scholarly activity support system, our residents have been extremely productive. From January 2019 to May 2020, 20 peer-reviewed publications were authored by residents (bold):

  1. Lebovitz EE, Maddy EM, Hudson ME, Adams DC. Revisiting Mission-based Productivity. Int Anesthesiol Clin. 2019 Winter;57(1):114-130.
  2. Schnetz MP, Hochheiser HS, Danks DJ, Landsittel DP, Vogt KM, Ibinson JW, Whitehurst SL, McDermott SP, Duque MG, Kaynar AM. The triple variable index combines information generated over time from common monitoring variables to identify patients expressing distinct patterns of intraoperative physiology. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2019 Jan 14;19(1):17
  3. Bintrim D, Mitchell K, McHugh S. Questions About the Study by Said Et Al. Anesth Analg. 2019 Mar;128(3):e50.
  4. Dressler AM (submitted during his residency), Gillman AG, Wasan AD. A narrative review of data collection and analysis guidelines for comparative effectiveness research in chronic pain using patient-reported outcomes and electronic health records. J Pain Res. 2019 Jan 24;12:491-500.
  5. Staub BP (submitted during his residency), Casini GP, Monaco EA 3rd, Sekula RF Jr, Emerick TD. Near-resolution of persistent idiopathic facial pain with low-dose lumbar intrathecal ziconotide: a case report. J Pain Res. 2019 Mar 8;12:945-949.
  6. Mandell D (submitted during his residency), Orebaugh SL. A Porcine Model for Learning Ultrasound Anatomy of the Larynx and Ultrasound-Guided Cricothyrotomy.​ Simul Healthc. 2019 Oct;14(5):343-347.
  7. Abuelkasem E, Wang DW, Subramaniam K. Pro: Myocardial Deformation Imaging Should Be Used Perioperatively for Assessment of Cardiac Function. J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2019 Nov;33(11):3196-3200.
  8. Lamparello AJ, Namas RA, Schimunek L, Cohen M, El-Dehaibi F, Yin J, Barclay D, Zamora R, Billiar TR, Vodovotz Y. An Aging-Related Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism is Associated With Altered Clinical Outcomes and Distinct Inflammatory Profiles in Aged Blunt Trauma Patients. Shock. 2020 Feb;53(2):146-155.
  9. Abuelkasem E, Wang DW, Omer MA, Abdelmoneim SS, Howard-Quijano K, Rakesh H, Subramaniam K. Perioperative clinical utility of myocardial deformation imaging: a narrative review. Br J Anaesth. 2019 Oct;123(4):408-420.
  10. Cohen M, Lamparello AJ, Schimunek L, El-Dehaibi F, Namas RA, Xu Y, Kaynar AM, Billiar TR, Vodovotz Y. Quality Control Measures and Validation in Gene Association Studies: Lessons for Acute Illness. Shock. 2020 Mar;53(3):256-268.
  11. Orebaugh S, Carullo P (submitted during his residency), Gray A. Sciatic nerve blocks: more proximal may not mean more complete. Reg Anesth Pain Med. 2020 Apr;45(4):32
  12. Mitchell KD, Smith CT, Mechling C, Wessel CB, Orebaugh S, Lim G. A review of peripheral nerve blocks for cesarean delivery analgesia. Reg Anesth Pain Med. 2019 Oct 25:rapm-2019-100752.
  13. Adams DR, Tollinche LE, Yeoh CB, Artman J, Mehta M, Phillips D, Fischer GW, Quinlan JJ, Sakai T. Short-term safety and effectiveness of sugammadex for surgical patients with end-stage renal disease: a two-centre retrospective study. Anaesthesia. 2020 Mar;75(3):348-352.
  14. Carullo PC (submitted during his residency), Al-Khafaji A. Hydroxocobalamin in the treatment of vasodilatory shock. J Clin Anesth. 2020 May;61:109665.
  15. Nip FR, Zariwala A, McHugh SM. Old Habits Die Hard. Anesth Analg. 2019 Dec 9. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000004603. Online ahead of print.PMID: 31913909
  16. Deis AS, Schnetz MP, Ibinson JW, Vogt KM. Retrospective analysis of cases of intraoperative awareness in a large multi-hospital health system reported in the early postoperative period. BMC Anesthesiol. 2020 Mar 9;20(1):62.
  17. Tran LT, Carullo PC (submitted during his residency), Banh DPT, Vitu C, Davis PJ. Pediatric Liver Transplantation: Then and Now. J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2020 Feb 19:S1053-0770(20)30177-4.
  18. Lebovitz EE, Nguyen AVT, Sakai T. Economic considerations in abdominal transplantation. Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol. 2020 Mar;34(1):15-23.
  19. Hrebinko KA, Myers SP, Tsang WL, Doney L, Lazar S, Teng C, Subramaniam K, Holder-Murray J. Sex Comparisons in Opioid Use and Pain After Colorectal Surgery Using Enhanced Recovery Protocols.J Surg Res. 2020 Apr 26;253:105-114.
  20. Adams DR, Vogt KM, Norton CM, Metro DG. Financial Incentive, in Place of Nonclinical Time, Increases Faculty Involvement and Improves Resident Didactic Evaluation Scores in an Anesthesiology Residency Training Program. J Educ Perioper Med, 2019, 21: E630.

NIH T32 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

For those looking to pursue research further, we offer an anesthesiology-focused NIH T32 postdoctoral research fellowship for physician-scientists (PI: Yan Xu, PhD). We are one of only 16 anesthesiology programs across the nation with this prestigious NRSA T32 training grant. Select residents have the opportunity to participate in a longitudinal research program that spans residency and postdoctoral research in the Pittsburgh ANesTHEsiology Research (PANTHER) Track offered within our department.