EACH year, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) recognizes an individual for a career of outstanding original research that has advanced the science and practice of anesthesiology. The 2001 recipient of the ASA Excellence in Research Award is David C. Warltier, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Warltier is Professor of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Medicine (Cardiology) at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is an individual who, for more than 20 yr, has made novel and important contributions in both clinical and basic sciences, focusing largely on the physiology and pharmacology of the coronary circulation and alterations in ventricular function in ischemic heart disease. His earliest investigations of the effects of volatile anesthetics on multivessel coronary ischemia provided a large body of critical information and helped to dispel the idea that isoflurane caused significant coronary steal and was therefore contraindicated in patients with coronary artery disease. His investigations of coronary angiogenesis and genetic control of angiogenic factors have resulted in continuing recognition from far beyond the specialty of anesthesiology. His work on ischemic preconditioning and the ability of potent volatile anesthetics to provide protection from coronary ischemia through activation of potassium adenosine triphosphate channels has resulted in a new and more detailed understanding of the interaction of anesthetics and ischemic myocardium at the cellular level.
David was born March 28, 1947 in Hartford, Connecticut, and spent most of his early years in New York. In 1965, David came to Waukesha, Wisconsin, to continue his education at Carroll College. He completed his Bachelor of Science degree with honors in biology and chemistry in 1969. (Twenty-two years later, Carroll College awarded him an Honorary D.Sc. degree for his achievements in the biologic sciences.) After a short period working for the Aldrich Chemical Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, David entered the graduate program in pharmacology as a student of Harold F. Hardman, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chairman, and Garrett Gross, Ph.D., Assistant Professor (and now Professor) at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He completed his Ph.D. in 1976, and within 4 yr, he published 24 original articles in peer-reviewed journals. Postdoctoral Fellowships in Pharmacology from the American Heart Association and the National Science Foundation laid the groundwork for his first National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant in 1979, entitled “The Pharmacology of Myocardial Ischemia and Infarction.” This was the start of more than 25 yr of continuous NIH research support. At almost the same time, he became convinced that a medical degree was important to the continuation of his career. Hence, he completed his M.D. degree at the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1982, earning election to Alpha Omega Alpha (and continuing his NIH funding at the same time). *After graduation, he was immediately promoted to Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Internal Medicine. He continued with his investigations and was soon involved in a new activity, serving as a mentor for cardiology fellows and pharmacology graduate students in his role as Director of the Cardiovascular Research Training Grant in Cardiology (1983–1989).
Three years after receiving his M.D., David decided that residency training was needed—and also decided on another change in career. He entered the Anesthesiology Residency Training Program in 1985, completing his training in 1988. At the same time, he continued to develop a successful and productive research laboratory and to build his academic career by combining clinical anesthesia and basic research. He was promoted to Professor of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Medicine in 1990 and in the same year was appointed Vice Chairman for Research in the Anesthesiology Department at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
The following years have been as remarkable as those that preceded his entry into our specialty. In addition to his own research activities, he has mentored the careers of numerous medical students, graduate students, residents, cardiology fellows, and anesthesiology fellows. He was a major factor in obtaining the department’s NIH-funded Anesthesiology Research Training Grant and has served since its inception as Director. He was appointed as Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1995 in recognition of research that has contributed to the Ph.D. research thesis requirements for a number of bioengineering graduate students. In 2000, he was appointed Director of the Medical Scientist Training Program (the M.D., Ph.D. program) at the Medical College of Wisconsin. This latter, university-wide position was the direct result of his achievements in science, his leadership, his communication skills, and his record of success in mentorship and ability to influence and help students achieve their goals in academic medicine.
David Warltier’s contributions to the specialty of anesthesia are numerous. He has been a member of the editorial board of Anesthesiology for the past 6 yr, after 3 yr on the Associate Board. He also serves as an editor for Cardiovascular Drug Reviews and The American Journal of Physiology (Heart and Circulatory Physiology) and has been an editorial consultant and reviewer for 16 journals. He is editor of the book Ventricular Function (Baltimore, Williams & Wilkins, 1995). David is a member of many medical and scientific organizations and societies and has been a visiting professor at numerous academic programs in the United States, as well as in other countries. He has published more than 275 original articles, book chapters, and reviews and has held grants from NIH, the Veterans Administration, and many pharmaceutical companies. His current NIH RO1 grant has been continuously funded for 15 yr, while the Anesthesiology Research Training Grant has been funded for 16 yr. David is also a significant coinvestigator of an NIH SCOR grant dealing with ischemic heart disease.
Other than his work, David has three important loves: his family, his golden retriever Chili, and pre-Columbian art (of which he has an impressive collection). David is a loving husband to his wife, Lynn, and father to four children, Candice, Charles, Kristin, and Karin. His extended professional family has consisted of approximately 40 fellows and students who have spent time in his laboratory. Many of them have achieved Ph.D. degrees in pharmacology and biomedical engineering under his guidance and now hold academic positions in various medical schools. Countless other medical students, graduate students, residents, and fellows have received a significant part of their education and training from him in the classroom and in the operating room. His concern and care for others goes beyond solely professional matters and extends to laboratory and operating room technicians, secretaries, and other staff members. He also epitomizes the clinician–investigator; when he is not in the laboratory, classroom, or lecture hall, he can usually be found providing anesthesia care for patients undergoing cardiac and major vascular surgery.
David Warltier’s intellectual curiosity, warmth, integrity, and commitment to mentorship have all contributed to make him an ideal role model of the outstanding physician scientist. He is a most deserving recipient of the 2001 Excellence in Research Award.