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Wei Chao, MD, PhD Receives FARA

Congratulations to Wei Chao, MD, PhD, who has been named the recipient of the prestigious 2018 Frontiers in Anesthesia Research Award, given by the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS). This $750,000 award is only given by the IARS once every three years. Wei will use this funding to support his research into the molecular pathogenesis of sepsis.

Sepsis is a serious clinical condition with life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. Cardiovascular collapse induced by cardiac dysfunction and profound vasodilatation represents a main feature of septic shock and contributes to its high mortality. During sepsis, host cellular RNAs are released into the blood. Some of the extracellular RNAs (microRNAs) have been found to be highly pro-inflammatory. The overall goal of the work funded by this IARS award is to determine the role of extracellular microRNAs in host innate immune activation and cardiac dysfunction in sepsis.

Sepsis is a major public health problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 1.5 million people get sepsis each year in the U.S., about 250,000 Americans die from sepsis each year, and one in three patients who die in a hospital have sepsis. Dr. Chao's work will help identify novel targets for future therapeutic intervention of sepsis and save lives.

Dr. Chao, Vice-Chair for Translational Research in our Department, has long been interested in innate immunity, inflammation and its role in sepsis, organ injury, and trauma. Other faculty working in the Chao lab include: Se-Chan Kim, Brittney Williams, and Lin Zou, all Assistant Professors in our department, and Andrew Suen, a visiting anesthesiology resident from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.