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The Campaign for New Knowledge: Why Discovery Is a Differentiator and Science Is the Surest Way Forward

This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of the ASA Newsletter.

From political campaigns for tightly-contested Senate seats to advertising campaigns for Black Friday deals, November is awash in campaigns. Because your favorite news publication is already full of politicians and prices vying for your vote, this month we are asking you to support a different kind of campaign: a campaign for new knowledge.

Through this “campaign,” the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research is calling on every ASA member to support the generation and dissemination of new knowledge –the facts, information and skills acquired through scientific discovery – by contributing to FAER.

When it comes to knowledge, physician anesthesiologists are both consumers and producers. We use it every day to treat our patients, to make life-saving decisions in the operating room and ICU, and to recommend new treatments for pain management. Our use of knowledge extends beyond the walls of any medical facility. Knowledge generated via research provides the basis for health care policy, it leads to technological innovation, it drives economic progress and it serves the public good.

The responsibility to improve care, identify new treatments, innovate new technologies and implement new procedures falls to us – physician anesthesiologists. Our unique ability to produce new knowledge through the process of scientific inquiry and then put that new knowledge to use in clinical settings lies within us. Discovery is a differentiator that sets us apart from other providers in the health care continuum. This is real advocacy for our specialty.

In fact, I’d argue that one of the very best ways to advocate for anesthesiology is to invest in research and innovation. Scientific discovery is an investment that will help us create a better tomorrow for our patients. And it is our patients who expect no less than the safest, most compassionate and technical treatment. They care that we are on the cutting edge. What magnifies their support for all of medicine is the promise that the future will bring forth even safer and more effective care. Thus, the true long-term contribution of any medical specialty is its ability to improve patient care. Research carries the promise for making this progress. Science is our surest way forward.

For science to move us forward requires productive researchers doing cutting edge research and determining how to best bring the new knowledge to our clinical practices. Research that provides actionable, valuable data not only necessitates a skilled, experienced investigator and a tremendous amount of institutional resources but also significant federal funding.

The challenge is that NIH funding is not easy to come by, especially for anesthesiologists. Federal research and development funding has declined (in real dollars) continuously over the past decade while growing more competitive in recent years. In constant 2003 dollars, which show NIH funding adjusted for inflation, the level of NIH funding in 2013 was 22 percent less than the level of NIH funding in 2003.1 Last year, the success rate for funding requests to the NIH was only 17 percent, the lowest level in 15 years. In addition to these facts, anesthesiology ranks near the bottom of all medical specialties for the amount of NIH funding per faculty member.

Because knowledge creation via scientific discovery requires experience and federal funding, and federal funding requires training and data, we must do everything we can to prepare our trainees and early career faculty members with the experience and data needed to become independent investigators with NIH funding. FAER grants accomplish this. Our mentored research grants and fellowship opportunities are a starting point on the pathway to knowledge creation.

Just as FAER is a catalyst for launching successful academic careers and productive research, let FAER be your gateway to supporting the knowledge creation that differentiates anesthesiologists and moves medicine forward. We gratefully appreciate your support for the campaign for new knowledge!

How You Can Support FAER’s Campaign for New Knowledge
The Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research is calling on every ASA member to contribute to the campaign for knowledge. Help us reach our goal to raise $275,000 from individual anesthesiologists by December 31, 2014. Thank you for your generosity!

1. Make a gift today. Donate online at
Donations made online have an immediate effect on FAER’s ability to provide ongoing support for our programs and grants. You can make an online donation to FAER using any major credit card.

2. Set up a monthly or quarterly recurring donation.
Becoming a regular donor to FAER is an excellent way to provide sustained support for anesthesia education and research. You can set up a recurring gift to FAER via our online donation form at

Remember: Make your gift by December 31 to receive potential tax benefits for 2014!

1. Johnson JA. Brief history of NIH funding: fact sheet. Congressional Research Service R43341. Published December 23, 2013. Accessed September 10, 2014.