May 1, 2009

Lecture examines action of anesthetics on patients with mitochondrial dysfunction

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Jay Deshpande, M.D., featured speaker Philip Morgan, M.D., and Michael Higgins, M.D., M.P.H., have a laugh after the James Phythyon Endowed Lectureship in Pediatric Anesthesiology. (Photo by Anne Rayner)

Lecture examines action of anesthetics on patients with mitochondrial dysfunction

Philip Morgan, M.D., Professor of Anesthesiology at University of Washington and Director of Research at Seattle Children’s Hospital, recently presented the Fourth Annual Dr. James Phythyon Endowed Lectureship in Pediatric Anesthesiology, sponsored by Vanderbilt Medical Center’s Department of Anesthesiology.

A nationally known expert on the effects of genetic changes on mitochondrial function using the nematode C. elegans, Morgan lectured on anesthetizing patients with mitochondrial dysfunction and disclosed new research on what is known about the action of volatile anesthetics on a cellular level.

The fully endowed lectureship was established in honor of the late James Phythyon, M.D., an Anesthesiology Department faculty member and founding member of the VMC Pediatric Anesthesia Division.

“Dr. Jim Phythyon will always hold a special place in my heart because, for me and the fledgling pediatric anesthesia group, he provided the moral support and active clinical help that sustained our group in its infancy,” said Jayant Deshpande, M.D., anesthesiologist-in-chief at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

“Today, the children’s anesthesiology program has nearly 20 attendings, 16 CRNAs (certified registered nurse anesthetists) and three fellows who care for more than 13,000 infants and children every year.”

“He and Jay collaborated as the first pediatric anesthesiologists, and they plowed new ground,” said Phythyon’s widow, Marlin Sanders. “Jim was a very modest man who didn’t need applause for what he did. To have this lectureship in his honor would be just beyond his comprehension. He would have loved it.”