May 1, 2014

Chestnut named head of Division of Obstetric Anesthesiology

David Chestnut, M.D.

David Chestnut, M.D., has been named chief of Vanderbilt’s Division of Obstetric Anesthesiology.

Chestnut comes to Vanderbilt from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, where he served as professor of Anesthesiology and associate dean of the Western Academic Campus. He also served as the Edwin L. Overholt Director of Medical Education for the Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wis.

He is an internationally renowned leader in obstetric anesthesiology. Most notably, he is the senior editor of Chestnut’s Obstetric Anesthesia: Principles and Practice, which is regarded as the principal textbook of the specialty.

“We are thrilled to have an individual of David’s caliber leading obstetric anesthesiology at Vanderbilt, and the magnitude of his contributions to this field is hard to fully comprehend,” said Warren Sandberg, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Anesthesiology. “David is a highly respected clinician, educator, mentor and scientist, and he will play a vital role in Vanderbilt’s growing reputation as an exceptional provider of obstetric and gynecologic anesthesiology services.”

Chestnut received his medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine. He completed residency training in both anesthesiology and obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University Medical Center. He is board certified, and maintains certification, in both specialties. In 1984, Chestnut joined the faculty of the University of Iowa College of Medicine, and for three years he practiced both anesthesiology and obstetrics and gynecology. In 1987, he began to devote his clinical practice exclusively to anesthesiology, with an emphasis on obstetric anesthesiology.

While at the University of Iowa, Chestnut developed a National Institutes of Health-funded laboratory model for the study of maternal and fetal responses to stressors such as hemorrhage and inadequate oxygenation. In 1994, Dr. Chestnut became the Alfred Habeeb Professor and chair of Anesthesiology, and professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. During his 11-year tenure as chair at UAB, he helped lead that department to national and international prominence.

“I am excited to be joining the Vanderbilt family,” Chestnut said. “I was attracted to Vanderbilt because of the institution’s longstanding commitment to — and visionary leadership in — clinical care, patient safety, education and research. Vanderbilt’s mission matches the direction of my career and my professional goals, and it is a privilege and pleasure to join the faculty and leadership team.”

Chestnut has served as president of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP) and as the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ liaison to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. For 12 years, Chestnut served as a director of the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA), and subsequently, for the past five years, has served as executive director for Professional Affairs for the ABA. He also served for 12 years on the editorial board for the journal Anesthesiology and for 11 years he was editor-in-chief of the Year Book of Anesthesiology and Pain Management. The fifth edition of Chestnut’s Obstetric Anesthesia: Principles and Practice will be published this month.

The Division of Obstetric Anesthesiology provides dedicated, 24-hour, in-house obstetric care for approximately 4,000 deliveries at Vanderbilt University Medical Center annually, nearly half of which are considered high risk. The division provides a full complement of techniques for labor analgesia, including nitrous oxide inhalation. Moreover, the division provides consultation and critical care management services for high-risk obstetric patients, as well as specialized anesthesia care for fetal surgery. Subspecialty education in obstetric anesthesia is provided via an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education -accredited fellowship. The team also provides anesthesia services for approximately 2,500 gynecologic and other surgical procedures annually.