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Children's National Awarded NIH Grant to Study Potentially Safer Anesthesia Method

Washington, DC—Children’s National Medical Center has received a five-year grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The grant will fund a preclinical study to explore whether, during low-flow anesthesia, exposure to low concentrations of carbon monoxide may help protect the developing brain from certain risks of anesthesia. Richard Levy, Associate Chief of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine and Principal Investigator for the Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Genetic Medicine Research, will lead the study.

“I congratulate Dr. Levy on this award, which is particularly prestigious in a time of reduced federal research budgets,” said Mark L. Batshaw, MD, Executive Vice President, Chief Academic Officer, and Physician-in-Chief for Children’s National.  “This study may be an important step in our understanding of the safest possible anesthesia techniques for infants and children.”

Earlier preclinical studies have suggested a link between commonly used anesthetics and neuroapoptosis in the developing brain. During low-flow anesthesia—a technique using reduced anesthesia flow, administered and controlled via a re-breathing system—patients re-inhale small amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) that they exhale naturally. The Children’s National research team hypothesizes that these low concentrations of CO may be beneficial to young patients, helping to prevent possible neurotoxicity during anesthesia administration.

“We hope this study will bridge a critical gap in medical knowledge,” said Dr. Levy. “Ultimately, this may help develop low-flow anesthesia and CO re-breathing as an approach to protect the developing brain from anesthesia risks.”

This marks the third recent grant Levy has received for his research. The two earlier grants were awarded from the NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children’s National and from the FRAXA Research Foundation, which supports research for Fragile X syndrome treatments.

An active researcher, Dr. Levy has focused on sepsis-associated myocardial dysfunction, as well as improving patient safety. He is a fellowship-trained pediatric anesthesiologist who also serves as Director of Cardiac Anesthesiology at Children’s National.

Contact: Paula Darte or Emily Hartman, 202-476-4500