Basic Research

Our anesthesiology research laboratories are comprised of state-of-the-art research facilities. Our researchers hold joint appointments in basic science departments so as to enrich the department with the participation of graduate students conducting research toward their Ph.D. theses. In addition, post-doctoral fellows from around the world contribute to the research productivity of our department. Our faculty is also members of the U-M Center for Sleep Science, an interdepartmental center dedicated to filling in the gaps in our understanding of sleep disorders.

Our Faculty

Steven L. Britton, Ph.D.

Steven L. Britton, Ph.D.
Professor of Anesthesiology
Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Phone: 734.615.5969.
Fax: 734.615.3292.
E-mail: brittons@umich.edu

Koch-Britton Lab Website

Based upon the strong statistical association between aerobic capacity and all-cause morbidity and mortality, we (Koch and Britton) hypothesized that artificial selection of rats for low and high aerobic exercise capacity would yield models that also contrast for disease risks. If true, this would support the notion that impaired energy metabolism is a common feature that mechanistically underlies disease risks. Twenty-six generations (+13 years) of bi-directional selection have produced lines of low capacity runners (LCR) and high capacity runners (HCR) that differ by over 5-fold in aerobic treadmill running capacity. The LCR score high on numerous health risks including the metabolic syndrome and the HCR score high for health promoting factors such as maximal oxygen consumption. These and other features are studies with collaborators from 25 institutions representing 10 countries. Information obtained from these models immediately suggests pathways for translational studies for more effective modes of diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of complex diseases. This work is supported by a grant from the National Center for Research Resources (a component of the National Institutes of Health). Please see his recent publications.

Victoria Booth, Ph.D.

Victoria Booth, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
Phone: 734.647.8929.
E-mail: vbooth@umich.edu

Dr. Victoria Booth’s research focuses on biophysical modeling of neurons and neuronal networks with the goal of developing quantitative understanding of physiological mechanisms generating electrical activity patterns in neuronal systems. Her collaborative modeling with experimental neuroscientists provides quantitative support for their experimental hypotheses and generates specific predictions of experimentally-testable behaviors in order to further investigation of brain systems. Current topics of her research include the regulation of sleep and wake states by the brain and the effects of sleep-related neuromodulators on cortical and hippocampal neural circuits. Please see her recent publications.

Lauren Gerard Koch Ph.D.

Lauren Gerard Koch, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
Phone: 734.615.5969.
Fax: 734.615.1722.
E-mail: lgkoch@umich.edu

Koch-Britton Lab Website

In 1996, Dr. Koch along with collaborator Dr. Steve Britton, initiated a long-term strategy to develop animal models for the study of health and disease. Based on evidence from clinical studies that show a strong association between exercise capacity and mortality, they selectively bred rats to contrast for endurance running capacity to test the theory that low capacity for aerobic energy transfer mechanistically underlies accelerated risk for disease and diminished longevity (aerobic hypothesis). Along with the expected difference in exercise performance, rats bred as low capacity runners (LCR) score high on numerous complex disease risk factors including metabolic syndrome and high capacity runners (HCR) score high for health features such as leanness. Please see her recent publications.

Relative to the HCR, the LCR also:

  • gain more weight and become more insulin-resistant on a high-fat diet.
  • are more sensitive to ischemia-induced ventricular tachycardia and cardiac susceptibility to hypoxia.
  • have diminished vascular endothelial function.
  • are more susceptible to tobacco smoke and risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • develop non-alcohol fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis).
  • have a lower pain threshold (hyperalgesia).
  • display disrupted sleep patterns (shorter bouts of non-REM).
  • display generalized anxiety disorder and depression.
  • die about six months sooner (shorter lifespan).

The overall goal for this research will be to interrogate mechanisms at the level of gene expression and apply an unbiased multi-level bioinformatic approach to identify key molecular networks that tightly link aerobic capacity with numerous health and disease-associated traits.

Anthony Hudetz, D.B.M., Ph.D.

Anthony Hudetz, D.B.M., Ph.D.
Professor of Anesthesiology
Director of Laboratory Science, Anesthesiology
Scientific Director, Center for Consciousness Science
Faculty, Neuroscience Graduate Program
Phone: 734.615.3776
E-mail: ahudetz@med.umich.edu

“How does the human brain create consciousness and what happens to the thinking brain when a patient is anesthetized?  Is consciousness completely removed?  What is the neuronal basis of the anesthetic effect?  These and similar questions are investigated in Dr. Hudetz’s research laboratory in the Department of Anesthesiology.  The projects focus on the behavior of neuronal circuits of the brain during spontaneous ongoing activity and sensory stimulation in fully awake and anesthetized conditions.

One of the hypotheses currently being tested emphasizes the causal roles of neuronal communication and information integration underlying anesthetic-induced loss and return of consciousness. Fundamental information about the effect of anesthesia on neuronal communication and information processing in the cerebral cortex is obtained through the long-term recording of about one hundred neurons with implanted multielectrode arrays.  The results are analyzed with mathematical models of neuronal circuits and with information theory. Changes in cognitive functioning from wakefulness to anesthesia are assessed in human volunteers by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that yields dynamic maps of activity across the entire brain.

Several aspects of consciousness research are ongoing in the Center for Consciousness Science where Dr. Hudetz is Scientific Director.  In close collaboration with Dr. George Mashour, MD, PhD, Director and UnCheol Lee, PhD, Associate Director of the Center, the ultimate goal of the Center’s research is to better understand the neurobiological basis of human consciousness, its disruption in patients with neurological disorders, and its modulation by various interventions including the administration of anesthetics.” Please see his recent publications.

UnCheol Lee, Ph.D.

UnCheol Lee, Ph.D.
Associate Director of the Center for Consciousness Science Research Assistant Professor
Phone: 734.998.1235.
E-mail: uclee@umich.edu

Dr. Lee has focused on a computational study based on the physics of complex systems and network science to understand consciousness and the mechanisms of general anesthesia at the network level. He is also developing novel methods for quantifying levels of consciousness based on brain activity recordings such as EEG and fMRI.

Dr. Lee has been studying the mathematical relationship between information flow, network topology and state of consciousness. The analytic study and simulation of global brain network models have been conducted in conjunction with human EEG analysis during anesthetic state transitions. These studies will provide a mathematical principle for state transitions and brain network level explanations for the empirical observations of characteristic information flow patterns across states of consciousness. Please see his recent publications.

Dinesh Pal, Ph.D.

Dinesh Pal, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Phone: 734.615.0234.
Fax: 734.764.9332.
E-mail: dineshp@umich.edu

Dr. Pal is a neurobiologist conducting experimental studies on anesthetic mechanisms and sleep-anesthesia interfaces. He is using simultaneous electroencephalographic recordings and in vivo electrochemical measurement of brain neurotransmitter levels to identify correlates and mechanistic links to the anesthetic induced unconsciousness. In addition, Dr. Pal is also conducting studies using electroencephalographic recordings and neuropharmacological interventions to test the hypothesis that sleep and anesthesia may have common underpinnings. Please see his recent publications.

Gina Poe, Ph.D.

Gina Poe, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology
Associate Professor of Physiology
Faculty Member, Neuroscience Graduate Program
Phone: 734.647.8929.
Fax: 734.764.9332.
E-mail: ginapoe@umich.edu

Dr. Poe's research combines interests in basic sleep processes, development, learning and memory, and optimization of cognitive performance. Cutting edge techniques (optogenetics and tetrodes) are used to measure and control activity from multiple single neurons involved in learning and memory consolidation simultaneously in freely behaving animals. Dr. Poe's laboratory has located a neural discharge pattern that could explain why REM sleep and the transition to REM (aka Stage 2 in humans) is important to synaptic changes that occur during learning and normal development. Detailed investigation of these neural processes has uncovered the normal mechanisms underlying the role of sleep in learning and memory, explain cognitive declines that parallel REM sleep disruptions, and indicate how sleep can become maladaptive under certain conditions such as those after trauma in susceptible individuals. Dr. Poe is funded by R01 grants from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Dr. Poe serves on the Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program Executive committee and is co-PI of the training grant. She is co-Director of the Society for Neuroscience’s Neuroscience Scholar Program. She has served on the Learning and Memory study section of the NIH Center for Scientific Review, on the Senate Advisory Committee for University Affairs (SACUA), on the Sleep Research Society's Board of Directors, and reviews manuscripts in her field and mentors students in her laboratory and internationally. Her teaching activities include lecture for Neuroscience and Physiology graduate courses, and participates in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities program at the University of Michigan.

 

Please see her recent publications.

Giancarlo Vanini, M.D.

Giancarlo Vanini, M.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Phone: 734.647.7831.
Fax: 734.764.9332.
E-mail: gvanini@umich.edu

Dr. Vanini’s research primarily focuses on sleep neurobiology and the central mechanisms by which disrupted sleep can lead to or worsen chronic pain.  His laboratory combines molecular, electrophysiological, neurochemical, pharmacological and behavioral techniques to study neural networks controlling sleep, wakefulness and nociception in preclinical models of chronic inflammatory and post-surgical pain.  Current studies are examining how reducing or enhancing sleep (quality and quantity) prior to a noxious insult causes long-lasting changes in pain-related nuclei that determine the intensity and duration of post-insult nociceptive behaviors.  In addition, Dr. Vanini is interested in understanding the mechanisms of loss of consciousness during states of sleep and general anesthesia.  Please see his recent publications.

Lucy Waskell, M.D., Ph.D.

Lucy Waskell, M.D., Ph.D.
Director of Anesthesiology Research, Veterans' Administration
Professor of Anesthesiology
Phone: 734-845-5858
Fax: 734-764-9332
E-mail: waskell@umich.edu

For over 25 years, the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Administration have supported Dr. Waskell's research on the drug metabolizing enzyme, cytochrome P450. Humans possess 57 different cytochromes P450, which in addition to determining the duration of action, toxicity, and in many instances the activity of most of the drugs in clinical use, also mediate the biosynthesis and degradation of a cornucopia of endogenous compounds such as glucocorticoids, sex steroids, bile acids, prostaglandins, and vitamins A and D. Dr. Waskell's laboratory is investigating how cytochrome P450 and its helper proteins, cytochrome b5 and cytochrome P450 reductase, are able to metabolize such a great variety of compounds. Currently, protein engineering, X-ray crystallography, and biochemical techniques are being employed to assist in unraveling the mechanistic secrets of these essential enzymes. Please see her recent publications.

Chris Watson, Ph.D.

Chris Watson, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Phone: 734.647.7831.
Fax: 734.764.9332.
E-mail: watsoncj@umich.edu

Dr. Watson's ongoing research involves finding neurochemical bridges between anesthesia, sleep, and pain. He is using in vivo brain microdialysis in combination with state of the art analytical techniques to simultaneously measure multiple endogenous compounds. Analytical techniques include capillary electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence, high-performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection, and capillary liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry. These approaches make it possible to study the interactions between multiple neurotransmitters on a physiologically relevant time scale. Dr. Watson's current studies are focused on how glutamatergic, GABAergic, and hypocretinergic signaling regulate states of sleep, anesthesia, and pain. Please see his recent publications