University of Chicago

Outcomes Research

We utilize the National Inpatient Sample, National Readmissions Database, National Surgical Quality Improvement Program and other innovative datasets to inform and improve outcomes for our patients. Using a combination of advanced predictive analytics data sets, we have created risk prediction models for clinical practice. Current programs within this group use data to predict readmission, hemodynamic collapse, resource utilization, and mortality. This multidisciplinary group includes intensivists, anesthesiologists (pediatric, cardiac, and general), and biostatisticians.

Mechanisms of Anesthesia

Drs. Robert Fong, Zheng Xie, and Aaron Fox collaborate to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms of anesthetics. We have identified reversal agents for anesthetics that accelerate emergence. In rats, the drugs that raise intracellular concentration of the second messenger cAMP accelerate awakening from both isoflurane and propofol anesthesia. Other ongoing projects explore the effects of stress on anesthesia, resistance to anesthesia, and classes of agents with the potential to reverse anesthesia.

Pain Research

Visceral neuromodulation. The interventional pain physicians at the University of Chicago are involved in trials of spinal cord and dorsal root ganglion stimulation to treat gastrointestinal and visceral organ pain.

Functional MRI and IV ketamine. Intravenous ketamine is an analgesic adjunct for chronic neuropathic pain. Our researchers are evaluating neuromodulation changes that appear on functional MRI after analgesic infusion.

Category theory and pain management. Because chronic musculoskeletal conditions are multi-factorial, they manifest in various ways. We are evaluating interventional modalities for chronic pain from the perspective of set/graph and category theory in mathematics to improve pain relief with current technologies.

Pharmacogenomics and pain medicine. In pharmacogenomics, statistical analysis intersects with genetic variation in patient populations for trend analysis. To use analgesics efficaciously, our physicians evaluate the way genetic variation in drug response manifests in acute and chronic pain settings.

Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research

Dr. Chun-Su Yuan’s group explores methods to modulate the side effects of opioid pain medications, especially opioid bowel dysfunction. Recently, a new oral formulation of methylnaltrexone, a selective peripheral opioid antagonist, is the focus of their clinical and preclinical research. Another important work of the Tang Center is investigating the benefits and risks of herbal medicines. The Center identifies botanicals, isolates their constituents, and reports their pharmacological effects on medical conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disorders, and malignancies.

Drug Addiction Research

Dr. Xu’s long-term research interest is to understand the mechanisms underlying drug addiction for possible treatment. Currently, there are few strategies for treating drug addiction. His group has been investigating key molecules, like dopamine receptors and other intracellular mediators, that promote reward-related learning and memory induced by drugs of abuse. The research incorporates behavioral, genetic, anatomical and molecular biological methods.