Welcome from the Department Chair
John P. Williams, MD
Peter and Eva Safar Professor and Chair of Anesthesiology
Associate Medical and Scientific Director, UPMC International Division
John P. Williams, MD
Our fundamental goal is to provide anesthesia in the perioperative environment with a distinct
emphasis on patient safety. Patient safety serves as the foundation upon which all of our other goals are built; the
management of any disease or patient intervention is rarely successful in the absence of this emphasis. In addition
to this goal, we strive to Enhance the patient’s course of care by creating quantifiable increases in satisfaction
with regard to: (1) pain management, (2) patient outcome, and (3) rapid integration into society. Pain is one of
the more dreaded experiences patients confront during the perioperative period. Hence, the safe and successful
management of this surgical consequence results in appreciable increases in patient satisfaction. The modulation
or elimination of perioperative pain is the goal of the acute pain service in all of our institutions. Patient outcome
includes postoperative nausea and vomiting, patient satisfaction, and the time required to regain one’s physical
and emotional stamina following surgery and anesthesia. In this regard, the department has made significant
contributions to the positive role played by regional anesthesia. The focus of the clinical department on these
topics will serve us well in the coming years; however, this focus can only be maintained through the lens of
patient safety. Doing so will allow us to enhance the care experience for each of our patients while simultaneously
improving the visibility and viability of the department in the School of Medicine and the Health System.
EDUCATIONAL We strive to Excel in the education of medical students, nurses, paraprofessionals, residents,
fellows, and faculty. This goal is achieved through the consistent application of our core teaching principles:
every student is different, every student is capable, and every student deserves our best. These three
principles guide our training programs at all levels. Although the core of our education is in operating/
procedure rooms, intensive care units, and at the bedside, students also benefit extensively from didactic
lectures, problem-based learning discussions (PBLDs), and the use of simulation. This allows our students
to rapidly excel to the desired level of training, develop manual dexterity, broaden their capacity for
knowledge retention, and is the best method for encouraging the continuous acquisition of new knowledge.
Our scientific core is composed of both clinical and basic research teams. These researchers form the
intellectual and fundamental core of our scientfic mission. Their success has helped the University of Pittsburgh
achieve worldwide recognition as a top research institution. In 2008, the School of Medicine was ranked eighth in
the nati on in Nati onal Insti tutes of Health (NIH) funding – one of the very few quantifiable measures of research
success. In addition, our department ranked fifth in NIH funding among Anesthesiology departments nationwide.
Through our research programs, we conti nue to Enlighten our colleagues and the rest of the world with our efforts
to better understand the mechanisms and manifestation of anesthesia and pain. Even though anesthetics have
been administered for over 150 years, we are only now beginning to understand the mechanisms by which they
work. The department’s basic research team, led by Dr. Yan Xu, currently focuses on establishing the structural and
functional mechanisms of anesthesia. The department also has a large Clinical Trials Program (CTP), directed by Dr.
Jacques E. Chelly. It provides all the services necessary for faculty members to initiate and conduct clinical trials and
facilitates new pharmaceutical-sponsored research opportunities. In addition, the department has become very
active in pain research through a multi disciplinary effort, led by world-renowned investigator Dr. Gerald F. Gebhart.
As our research programs expand each year in size and significance, we continue to recruit outstanding scientists,
to welcome innovative ideas, and to maintain our role as one of the world leaders in anesthesiology research.