ORLANDO, Fla. – The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) today presented Judith
Hellman, M.D., with its 2019 Excellence in Research Award in recognition of her outstanding
research developments regarding sepsis and other forms of inflammatory critical illness. Dr.
Hellman’s novel discoveries have led to major scientific advances in anesthesiology and
Dr. Hellman is the William L. Young, M.D., professor and vice chair for research in the
Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care at the University of California San Francisco
A dedicated physician-scientist, Dr. Hellman’s research is focused on basic and translational
research on sepsis and other forms of acute organ failure caused by inflammatory critical
illness, which are leading causes of death in the intensive care unit. In particular, she studies
the class of proteins responsible for recognizing bacteria and disease susceptibility and initiating
inflammatory responses to infection. Her research has led to improved understanding of the role
white blood cells and other inflammation-causing cells play during illness and injury, including
the inability to form blood clots, blood vessel wall permeability, the infiltration of organs by white
blood cells, organ injury and organ failure.
In addition to characterizing the effects of inflammation-induced cell dysfunction, Dr. Hellman is
studying mechanisms by which the host regulates immune function and healthy responses to
sepsis, with the goal of identifying protective factors and developing sepsis therapies for
humans. Her research has found that treatment with a certain endocannabinoid (N-arachidonoyl
dopamine), a natural cannabis-like molecule produced by the human body, reduces
inflammation and coagulation disorders in mice in sepsis models. Further, Dr. Hellman
discovered that treatment with an enzyme inhibitor (ERK5) reduces inflammation and
coagulation disorders in mice with sepsis and injury.
“I am honored to present this award to Dr. Hellman, who is not only an exceptional professor of
anesthesiology, but a committed mentor to the next generation of physician-scientists,” said
ASA President Linda J. Mason, M.D., FASA. “Dr. Hellman’s research has led to an improved
understanding of how the body reacts to sepsis and inflammatory critical illness and her
substantial research findings have brought the fields of anesthesiology and immunology that
much closer to advanced sepsis treatment.”
To further demonstrate her commitment to the medical community, Dr. Hellman is a member of
several professional organizations, including the American Medical Association, Society of
Critical Care Medicine, Association of University Anesthesiologists, Society of Critical Care
Anesthesiologists and California Society of Anesthesiologists. She serves on the ASA
Committee on Research and the Early-Stage Anesthesiology Scholars Advisory Council. In
recognition of her scientific discoveries, Dr. Hellman received the Frontiers in Anesthesia
Research Award from the International Anesthesia Research Society in 2015.
Upon receiving her medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and
Surgeons in New York, Dr. Hellman completed a residency in internal medicine at Oregon
Health & Science University in Portland. She then completed a residency in anesthesiology, a
fellowship in critical care medicine, and a research fellowship in anesthesia and critical care
medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
For more than two decades, Dr. Hellman has been instrumental in the training and career
development of scientists and physicians involved in research related to critical care medicine,
anesthesia, pain and other aspects of perioperative medicine. Dr. Hellman leads the Pathway to
Scientific Independence program, which she helped establish to facilitate the research training
of anesthesiologist physician-scientists in the UCSF Department of Anesthesia and
Perioperative Care. Her roles as program director for the National Institutes of Health
Institutional Translational Research Training Program (T32) and anesthesia grant and thesis
advisor in the UCSF Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program also facilitate direct involvement in
the education and development of researchers at multiple stages.
In 2012, Dr. Hellman was elected to the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research
Academy of Research Mentors in Anesthesiology in recognition of her local and national
mentoring activities. She was also presented the Fellows’ Leadership and Advocacy Group
Mentorship Award from the UCSF Department of Pediatrics in 2018.
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS
Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research
and scientific society with more than 53,000 members organized to raise and maintain the
standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician
anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after
surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.
For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of
Anesthesiologists online at
. To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists
play in ensuring patient safety, visit
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This part of information is sourced from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-10/asoa-arj101419.php