PeCAN team members earn grant support, spots in training programs to advance mission

Three Perioperative Cognitive Anesthesia Network (PeCAN) team members recently received grants or earned spots in competitive training programs as the group seeks to advance its mission to promote brain health in older adults undergoing surgery with anesthesia.

Their pursuit of further expertise in perioperative brain research reflects the team-science approach of PeCAN, said Catherine Price, Ph.D., ABPP-CN, director of the NIH-supported PeCAN Program for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias.

“I am very proud of the multidisciplinary collaborations involving numerous specialties, including anesthesiology and neurology, and I am excited about the new knowledge each of these faculty members will gain,” Price said.

  • Ferenc Rabai, M.D., an assistant professor of anesthesiology in the Division of Neuroanesthesia, has been accepted into a selective three-day boot camp that focuses on the inter-relationship between delirium and Alzheimer disease and related dementias. The ninth annual boot camp will be held Nov. 7 to 9 and is put on by the Network for Investigation of Delirium: Unifying Scientists (NIDUS), a collaborative multidisciplinary network supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with such an excellent group of researchers from a variety of disciplines including neuropsychology, neurology, and others affiliated with PeCAN,” Rabai said. “My goal is to leverage my experience with intraoperative electrophysiology and electroencephalography in a team-science approach. Sharing knowledge and expertise with each other in this wonderful multidisciplinary collaboration is a great way to get to the cutting edge of perioperative brain health research here at UF and beyond.”

  • Maria Bruzzone Giraldez, M.D., M.S., clinical assistant professor in the Department of Neurology, has received a grant from the Alzheimer’s Association to focus on the study of preoperative electroencephalography changes in sleep structures as predictors of postoperative delirium and long-term cognitive decline. The discovery of preoperative biomarkers of postoperative delirium is expected to help identify high-risk patients and target surgical procedures to patients’ needs to decrease the burden of this condition.

“To develop evidence-based perioperative care in older adults with Alzheimer disease, there is a need to integrate neurological and anesthesia delirium-based research,” she said. “My study’s long-term goal is to characterize preoperative electroencephalographic markers that can be used routinely to help identify patients at risk of developing postoperative cognitive complications such as delirium.”

  • Ben Chapin, M.D., a fellow in behavioral disorders in the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases, has been selected for the IMPART T32 Training Program, which is an NIA-funded postdoctoral training program. The program provides research training for postdoctoral fellows interested in pain and aging research and is a partnership between the UF Pain Research & Intervention Center of Excellence (PRICE) and the UF Institute on Aging (IOA). 

Chapin’s goal is to develop the skill set necessary to implement effective research while taking advantage of the opportunity to build a specific, practical skill set leveraging digital technologies for patients with neurodegenerative disorders to improve outcomes after surgery with anesthesia.

“I plan to use these skills to build my own clinic focused on assessment and management of people with cognitive impairment at risk for delirium and postoperative cognitive decline,” he said.

Chapin began working with Price and PeCAN during his fellowship in cognitive and behavioral neurology at UF. “I was very impressed by her work and drawn to the clinic’s unique mission to work across subspecialties to better understand, prevent, and treat delirium and cognitive decline after surgery,” he said.

Rabai, Bruzzone Giraldez, and Chapin are also proposing a PeCAN team-science grant combining their interests to address postoperative delirium risk in older adults.

Congratulations to all!