Dr. Nikolaus Gravenstein honored with UF College of Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award

Doctor Nik Gravenstein

Revered Professor Nikolaus Gravenstein, MD, has been selected for the 2020 University of Florida College of Medicine Faculty Council Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his more than three decades of contributions to our department, specialty, and institution.

The award recognizes the most outstanding members of the College of Medicine and faculty who have been at UF for at least 10 years. Many recipients have served for more than 20 years. Dr. Gravenstein will receive the award during a virtual ceremony on Thursday, May 14.

Dr. Gravenstein, the Jerome H. Modell Professor of Anesthesiology and Professor of Periodontology and Neurosurgery, is among the most accomplished and respected members of our department. His contributions to the field and to the education of our students and trainees are unparalleled. He has performed more anesthetics than any other faculty member at UF, ranging from routine to highly complex procedures such as those for patients with congenital heart disease.

Dr. Gravenstein’s skills not only in the technical aspects of anesthesiology, but also in providing professional feedback make him the single attending anesthesiologist who all residents and fellows want to work with on a day-to-day basis, Timothy E. Morey, MD, Professor and Chair of the department, wrote in a nomination letter.

“There is no faculty member that residents would rather work with than Nik – it is that simple to state,” Dr. Morey wrote.

Doctor Gravenstein training residents

Dr. Gravenstein has been a superbly gifted mentor to dozens of faculty members, selflessly giving his time and expertise to faculty not only in the Department of Anesthesiology, but in many other departments as well.

“He is an ideal role model for all levels of trainees, and without effort,” Hari Parvataneni, MD, the Peter Gearen, MD, Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Division Chief and Fellowship Director in Arthroplasty and Joint Reconstruction, wrote in a nomination letter. “He is dedicated to his patients, seems to enjoy everything he does, and exudes passion and dedication.”

Dr. Gravenstein is a vital representative to our institutional risk management office and serves on numerous senate and institutional committees at UF, as well as on university committees to improve Division I athletics.

Dr. Gravenstein’s accomplishments include:

  • Serving as chair of the department for 11 years from 1997 to 2008, an enormous accomplishment given the economic challenges and dean-level changes occurring at the time.
  • Co-leading the Center for Safety, Simulation and Advanced Learning Technologies. The simulation center is endorsed by the American Society of Anesthesiologists to allow anesthesiologists from across the southeastern United States to quality for Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesia during daylong sessions at the Harrell Medical Education Building.
  • Contributing to the improvement of sedation services for dental patients in the Health Sciences Center by teaching dentists and others how to safety and efficiently sedate patients.
  • Bringing the North American Malignant Hyperthermia Registry (NAMHR) of the Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States (MHAUS) to UF from the University of Pittsburgh, further raising the national profile of the department and the institution.
  • Singlehandedly developing a new method of cooling football players using their padding as a ventilation method following the death in our hospital of Eraste Autin, a fullback playing for Steve Spurrier on July 26, 2001. This method has been adopted by the NCAA and NFL.
  • Serving NASA on behalf of UF during the space shuttle launches.
  • Acting as medical director for two state of Florida agencies with a focus on patient safety.
  • Leading and working on an extensive list of national committees for anesthesiology professional organizations.
  • Completing 12 visiting professorships.
  • Giving dozens of lectures and speeches at national and international professional conferences.
  • Holding over 40 patents and receiving more than 20 grants, including industry supported and federal.
  • Serving as editor for 10 books and authoring more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and chapters.
  • Serving as an active member of more than a dozen professional societies and as a peer reviewer for several of the top medical journals in our specialty.
Doctor Gravenstein instructing during MOCA

“Perhaps Nik’s greatest achievement and one noted by many faculty is that he will never give up on any other professional despite their own professional and/or personal problems,” Dr. Morey wrote. “It is optimism that is unusual in our environment of modern healthcare delivery. It is extraordinary to know a colleague so accomplished and yet so humble.”

Dr. Gravenstein also received letters of support for the Lifetime Achievement Award from: Henry Rosenberg, MD, the president of MHAUS; Tomas D. Martin, MD, Professor of Surgery and Director of the UF Health Aortic Disease Center; Thomas S. Huber, MD, PhD, the Edward R. Woodward Professor and Chief of the Division of Vascular Surgery; Li-Ming Su, MD, the David A. Cofrin Professor of Urologic Oncology and Chairman of the Department of Urology; Erik W. Black, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Education and Associate Director of the UF HSC Office of Interprofessional Education; and Donn M. Dennis, MD, FAHA, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Anesthesiology.