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Outstanding Mentorship Transforms Anesthesiology – 2016 FAER Mentoring Excellence in Research Award Recipient: Margaret Wood, MD, FRCA

Over the past three decades, the physician-scientists who have received research funding support from FAER have made discoveries and created new scientific knowledge that has transformed patient care and the clinical practice of anesthesiology. Their many accomplishments, including substantial independent funding, range significantly, and their research interests and scientific findings have differed in many ways. But their paths to success have had at least one commonality: mentorship. Their mentors have been helpful, supportive, instrumental and, in exceptional cases, transformational to their academic progress and scholarly success.

Margaret Wood, MD

Margaret Wood, MD

In 2009, the FAER Academy of Research Mentors in Anesthesiology recognized the importance of mentorship to academic and scientific achievement when it established the FAER Mentoring Excellence in Research Award. The award acknowledges the successful development of mentees who go on to become physician scientists, ultimately shaping the future of the specialty. The recipient of the 2016 FAER Mentoring Excellence in Research Award is Margaret Wood, M.B., Ch.B., FRCA, E.M. Papper Professor and Chair, Columbia University.

Dr. Wood completed her medical degree at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Following anesthesia residency training in England, she came to the United States for fellowship training at Vanderbilt University. She joined the faculty at Vanderbilt in 1979 with appointments in anesthesiology and pharmacology and became professor of anesthesiology with tenure by 1986. Ten years later, she was recruited to Columbia University as the E.M. Papper Professor of Anesthesiology and department chair. She retired from Columbia this summer, after serving as chair for two decades.
Throughout her entire career, Dr. Wood has been a role model and a mentor. In the letters supporting her nomination, there was a strong and consistent thread evidencing her support, in words and in deeds, for the mission of academic anesthesiology and the development of trainees into independent physician scientists. To quote one of her mentees, Hannah Wunsch, MD, MSc, who nominated her for this award: “For the past 20 years at Columbia, her support has stretched far beyond involvement in individual projects and careers to a global approach to mentorship.”

One of her most significant contributions to the development of young anesthesiology researchers has been the establishment and development of the Apgar Scholars Program at Columbia – named in honor of one of the profession’s most famous scientists, Virginia Apgar. “Its success in supporting junior researchers in anesthesiology has been phenomenal, and many academic departments have used the Apgar Scholars model for their own programs for residents and fellows,” Dr. Wunsch wrote.

Under Dr. Wood’s leadership and mentorship, many young researchers at Columbia have received FAER or International Anesthesia Research Society funding in the past 10 years. They include George Gallos, MD; Dr. Wunsch, May Hua, MD; Caleb Ing, MD; Minjae Kim, MD; Jennifer Danielsson, MD; Gene T. Yocum, MD; Maya Mikami, MD, PhD; and Robert Maniker, MD. Several have also received NIH funding, including Dr. Gallos, Dr. Hua, Dr. Ing, Dr. Wunsch, and C. David Mintz, MD, PhD.

The Apgar Program is only one of many examples of Dr. Wood’s vision for supporting investigators’ careers. “At a time when many departments were focused on supporting basic science, Dr. Wood hired statisticians and epidemiologists, recognizing that anesthesiology was, and is, a field that spans many disciplines,” Dr. Wunsch wrote. “She also had the vision to mentor individuals whose research was best supported by senior investigators outside the department of anesthesiology, breaking down barriers for mentorship between departments within the medical school.”

Dr. Wood was the first female chair of any medical department at Columbia and the first female to be elected as president of the Association of University Anesthesiologists. According to her mentees, Dr. Wood has been an “inspiration for many women in the field.” As Dr. Wunsch described, “Her mentorship of individuals has always stressed the importance of commitment to research, thus she has spent countless hours helping medical students, residents, fellows and junior faculty map out their research careers. Dr. Wood’s mentorship has also always been infused by a belief in the importance of family and emphasis on the happiness of each individual. Such support of the ‘whole’ person is rare and invaluable.”

As a physician-scientist, Dr. Wood has conducted extensive research in anesthesia, published more than 140 articles and book chapters, and lectured extensively. With Alastair J.J. Wood, M.D., her husband, she co-authored two editions of the textbook Drugs and Anaesthesia: Pharmacology for Anesthesiologists. She has served on the boards of several medical journals, including Anesthesiology, as well as key committees and boards among national societies and organizations such as ASA and FAER. She has advised the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Anesthetic and Life Support Drugs Advisory Committee, and she chaired the Anesthesiology Residency Review Committee at the ACGME.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Wood on this award and her many successes as a mentor, researcher and leader in anesthesiology!