The American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine (AAP SOA) has named Shobha Malviya, M.D., FAAP, the recipient of its 2022 Robert M. Smith Award. The award, first given in 1986, recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of pediatric anesthesiology.
Malviya joined the University of Michigan Medical School Department of Anesthesiology in 1988 and was promoted to professor of anesthesiology with tenure in 2007.
Tribute to Shobha Malviya, M.D., FAAP
by Rita Agarwal, M.D., FAAP, FASA - Stanford University
Brilliant, humble, soft spoken, but carrying a big stick, Dr. Malviya is a friend and mentor. I did not train with or work with her at the University of Michigan but have been greatly influenced by her nevertheless. I met Dr. Malviya while working on SPA and AAP Committees. I had read her articles and journals, and because of mutual interests in sedation, out-of-OR care, and pain medicine, I spent many hours picking her brain and getting to know her. She was always knowledgeable, insightful, thoughtful, gracious, giving, and a true role model.
A gifted scientist, exceptional physician and loving mother, Dr. Malviya has changed pediatric anesthesia and pain medicine for the better.
One of my favorite memories of her is from touring the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry with her and her son and talking about the challenges of motherhood, medicine, and research. It was such a wonderful evening and so much fun. She clearly has excelled in all three areas.
Dr. Malviya received her M.D. from the University of Mumbai in January 1981. She then relocated to the United States where she trained in pediatrics at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University, anesthesiology at the University of Michigan Health System, followed by a fellowship in pediatric anesthesiology at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Dr. Malviya joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 1988 and has been there ever since. She was promoted to professor of anesthesiology with tenure in September 2007.
During her time at the University of Michigan, Dr. Malviya has been a passionate clinician, teacher and researcher. She has trained countless residents, fellows and junior faculty in the field of pediatric anesthesia and pediatric pain management, many of whom have also gone on to be leaders in the field. She served as director of the Pediatric Pain Service for 15 years and as director of Pediatric Anesthesia Research for more than 20 years. She is board certified in Pediatrics and Anesthesiology and holds subspecialty certification in Pediatric Anesthesiology.
In her role as director of research, Dr. Malviya led a highly effective, multidisciplinary research team, focusing on perioperative clinical outcomes in children and the quality and safety of anesthetic and pain management. Her team worked collaboratively with their surgical colleagues to study multiple neurobehavioral outcomes related to pain, sedative and anesthetic medications, and the perioperative experience. They have received over 40 grants and have several more ongoing/submitted as well as over a hundred publications in high impact journals.
Dr. Malviya and her team identified multiple perioperative and child-related factors that contribute to adverse outcomes. Her team also developed and validated clinical tools for assessment of pain intensity (FLACC and revised FLACC), sedation depth (UMSS), and anesthetic risk in children (revised ASA scoring). These tools have been translated widely into clinical practice and are among the most frequently used tools for pain assessment in diverse populations of children in the world, including non-verbal and developmentally delayed children. These tools have also been used extensively in clinical research. Additionally, her team has conducted multiple randomized controlled analgesic trials over the years, which have facilitated FDA labeling of drugs for children and improvements in pain management.
These trials have informed best analgesic practice for selected surgical procedures and have led to the development of integrated care pathways and standardization of postoperative analgesic care in children vulnerable to inadequately treated pain.
Dr. Malviya has been particularly interested in pain issues in children with cognitive impairment, a subset that is particularly vulnerable to untreated pain. More recently, her team has focused on assessing the safe use of opioids in clinical practice.
Dr. Malviya has been an invited speaker at national and international conferences on a variety of topics, including at the AAP, the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia, the European Society for Pediatric Anesthesia, the Association of Pediatric Anesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland and the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
Dr. Malviya served as president of the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia from 2014 to 2016. In this role, she had the opportunity to make an advocacy statement on behalf of almost 60,000 members of four leading anesthesia societies on establishing the safety and efficacy of opioids at a meeting of the FDA Advisory Committee on Opioids in Children. She also represented the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics when she made a statement at the FDA public hearing regarding the potential neurotoxicity of anesthetics in neonates and infants.
Comments from former and current colleagues:
“From Shobha, I learnt humility. From Shobha, I learnt the wisdom of knowing what you can and can’t change. From Shobha, I learnt that a foreign medical graduate could attain the top honor in their chosen profession. Needless to say, I saw this honor coming her way many years ago because I can’t think of anyone more deserving.” – Olubukola Nafui, M.D.
“Our Mott research team, led by Shobha and Alan Tait, convened in the mid-nineties when we had little idea of where our work would take us. Shobha’s exceptional knowledge of clinical pediatric anesthesia and her high ethical standards laid the foundation on which we built a body of work that has positively impacted the care and safety of children undergoing anesthesia. My favorite memories stem from our side-by-side work preparing manuscripts, with Shobha pecking away at the keyboard while I manipulated the mouse, much to the bemusement of Alan. Shobha’s keen wit, support, and friendship created an environment that was not only productive, but most importantly, fun. Both Alan and I share in celebrating Shobha’s accomplishments and this most deserved award.” – Terri Voepel Lewis, Ph.D., RN
“Shobha and I started our residencies in anesthesia together in July 1985. We became fast friends, as we were both former pediatricians. One thing I noticed immediately was Shobha’s attention to detail, both in her preops, in the OR, and in her research. She has a brilliant mind. She continues this into her practice today. Another trait is her empathy and compassion for her patients, co-workers, and family members. She is a mother figure to us all. This is not to say that she can’t be fun or mischievous… like the time she altered a certificate of mine on the wall, which I didn’t notice for about a year. Shobha truly deserves to be on the ‘Mount Rushmore’ of pediatric anesthesiologists and winner of the Robert M. Smith Award.” – Paul Reynolds, M.D.
This article was originally published in the AAP SOA Fall Newsletter. For more information about the AAP SOA, visit www.aap.org/en/community/aap-sections/anesthesiology-and-pain-medicine/.