Interview with Laurel Moore, MD

Marie Angele Theard, MD
Chair, Membership Committee

Marie Angele Theard, MD

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Laurel Moore to SNACC’s 2021 Academy of WINNERs. Dr. Moore has dedicated her career to educating and mentoring residents and fellows while contributing to Clinical Neuroscience and Anesthesiology research. Dr. Moore is Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology and Neurosurgery at The University of Michigan, where she serves as Associate Chair for Adult Anesthesiology and Medical Director of the University Operating Rooms. She is a long-time member of the SNACC, and she has served on the Board of Directors, as Chair of the Communication Committee, and Task Force on Perioperative Stroke. Currently, she serves on the Education committee. Dr. Moore has dedicated her career to the education and success of residents in Anesthesiology, fellows in Neuroanesthesia, the conduct of clinical neuroanesthesia, and expounding our understanding of perioperative stroke in our surgical populations. She is a leader who has managed to balance this work with her cherished roles of mother and wife.

As an elected member of the Association of University of Anesthesiologists, Laurel epitomizes the best of education and mentorship. Her vibrant lecturing style reflects her skill and enthusiasm for Neuroscience research and clinical care. From her contribution as a judge at the Midwest Anesthesia Residents Conference to membership on the Clinical Competence Committee at the University of Michigan, Dr. Moore takes seriously her role in ensuring the success of her trainees while underscoring the value of the work-life balance. Her teaching awards, a testament to the opinions of residents and fellow faculty, are plentiful and well deserved: from the outstanding teacher award at John Hopkins University to the Robert B Sweet Clinical instructor of the year award at the University of Michigan, two years in a row!

Dr. Moore’s desire to improve patient outcomes is truly commendable. Her numerous peer-reviewed publications reflect a serious scholarly interest in cerebral perfusion and understanding the risks of perioperative stroke in surgical patients. Invited reviews, book chapters, and numerous seminars and presentations attest to her expertise in this important area of perioperative care.

I have had the opportunity to work with Laurel on the WINNERs programming for SNACC, and I appreciate Laurel’s honest input regarding mentorship and networking. Dr. Moore understands the challenges of achievement for women in medicine and the role that organizations like SNACC play in supporting its women members. She listens, understands, and contributes her insights in a most professional and light-hearted manner. Her spirit is collaborative, enabling a facile transition from one idea to many. Congratulations on your award Laurel and we look forward to reading about your path to and experiences in Neuroanesthesia.

Laurel Moore, MD
  1. What/Who influenced you to choose a career in Neuroanesthesia?

I strongly considered neurology while in medical school at the University of Michigan, but fortunately realized before residency application that anesthesiology was a much better fit for me personally. I had the good fortune to work closely with Jeffrey Kirsch, M.D., who was our Associate Program Director at Johns Hopkins University and served as faculty in both the Neuro Critical Care Unit and the neurosurgical OR’s. He has been a role model for me throughout my career, and I am incredibly grateful to him for his mentorship. Once I discovered neuroanesthesia, I never looked back.

  1. Where did you receive most of your training in Neuroanesthesia?

I did a two-year fellowship in neuroanesthesia and neurocritical care at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Fifty percent of my time was basic science research, and my clinical time was divided between the neurosurgical OR’s and the neurosurgical ICU.

  1. At what point in your career did you meet your first mentor?

As I mentioned, I had the good luck to work closely with Jeff Kirsch, a fellow Michigander, during my residency. Starting my fellowship in neuroanesthesia, I had the opportunity to work with Richard Traystman, Ph.D., and although I haven’t done basic science for years, his focused approach and high expectations for good science have had a lasting effect on my career. I also worked closely with Robert McPherson, M.D., who was my fellowship director. His passion for neuroanesthesia and love of life were also highly influential for me.

  1. How has your mentor/s helped you in your career in Anesthesia/Neuroanesthesia?

I have benefited from outstanding mentorship throughout my career, but I’d like to recognize my current chair, George Mashour, M.D., Ph.D.  George embodies those qualities I personally find most important in a mentor and strive for personally in my mentorship of others. These include a passion for a subject, in our case neuroscience, and maintaining a high standard of conduct in all things. I think a critical component of excellent mentorship is serving as a role model for others, and I learn every day observing George in his role as chair of our department. George is the rare individual who is both an internationally recognized neuroscientist and an effective and respected administrator. George became chair at Michigan 3 months before Covid hit, and he has been an incredible leader through the pandemic.

  1. How did you find out about SNACC, and when did you join?

I have been a proud member of SNACC since I started my neuroanesthesia fellowship in 1990. At that time, there was a small subgroup of SNACC members who created the “Unincorporated Neuroanesthesia Research Group”, or “UNRG” as it was fondly called. As a totally green neuroscientist, it provided the opportunity for me and other junior faculty to present our ideas and early research to neuroanesthesia greats (to name just a few, Mike Todd, Bill Lanier, John Drummond) in an informal setting which generally included beer. It was incredibly inspirational early in my career and was an early introduction to the close SNACC community, which I’ve enjoyed ever since.

  1. Which area of clinical Neuroanesthesia interests you the most? Why?

I love taking care of a sick subarachnoid hemorrhage patient. These cases have it all – considerations of cerebral blood flow physiology, intracranial hypertension, focal ischemia, and the systemic effects of SAH. But I think my favorite case to do is an endoscopic third ventriculostomy – the brain is so beautiful.

  1. What area of Neuroscience research most interests you?

Every year I attend SNACC, I’m amazed at the innovative work being done by our members across the neurosciences. As someone who is primarily a clinical neuroanesthesiologist, the topics of acute ischemic stroke and perioperative stroke continue to interest and excite me, and I follow the literature closely and contribute where I can. I feel that for clinicians, having specific areas of inquiry not only improves your skills as a clinician and educator, but keeps you excited to start your work every morning.

  1. What has been the most challenging aspect of your educational career and/or training?

I think, like many of us, I have a hard time saying ‘no’ to requests for my time. I have a lot of interests and wish to support the people with whom I work, with the result that it’s easy to over-commit. I’ve found with experience that maintaining focus on the body of work that makes me want to come to work in the morning is the most efficient course to a successful academic career, and in the long run is more respectful to your colleagues. This is a message I repeatedly share with my mentees, and it’s particularly important during the pandemic when balancing home and work lives has become even more challenging for our faculty with young children.

  1. What has been the most gratifying aspect of your academic career?

In the big picture, supporting and encouraging the early careers of our faculty at the University of Michigan has got to be a highlight. I chaired our medical school’s clinical promotions committee last year, and this nuanced understanding of the promotions process is a skillset I use constantly. Having said this, for me, nothing’s better than helping a medical student place their first IV or discussing cerebral physiology with a curious resident and seeing the excitement in our next generation of neuroanesthesiologists.

  1. What has been the highlight of educating residents/fellows in Neuroanesthesiology?

Our neuroanesthesia division graduated two outstanding young female faculty last summer, both of whom have joined our faculty and are just awesome neuroanesthesiologists. Seeing their passion for our specialty, their developing careers, and their enthusiastic participation in SNACC, well, it’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Doesn’t get any better than this for me. And I learn from them every day, great mentorship is a two-way street.

  1. What advice/story would you like to share with medical students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty choosing a career in Neuroanesthesia?

I started my neuroanesthesia training more than 30 years ago. DEI has advanced exponentially since that time, but I have always felt included and respected within SNACC. The society has done incredible work in DEI over the last 10 years, but in my personal experience, SNACC has always been a “safe space” where all members with a common interest are welcomed and supported. The term “tribe” has taken on negative connotations recently, but yes, I would encourage trainees to find their tribe.

  1. What is your advice to women interested in pursuing work in this field?

Wow, this is a tough one. There’s no right way to “do” women in neuroanesthesia. I realize that most trainees and junior faculty carry substantial debt, but I would encourage them to accept help, offload what “busy work” they can by paying others to do it (e.g., housework!), and focus your attention on those things that really matter in the long-term: your family and your work. And give yourself some grace – no one can do everything. Finally, attach yourselves to some great role models/mentors and seek their constant advice and support. And I think some of the best role models in SNACC are men (here’s looking at you Deepak!

  1. What does the future hold for the Neurosciences in Anesthesiology and Critical Care?

I have no idea, but it’s incredibly exciting all the same. What’s unique about SNACC is its inclusivity – between basic scientists, translational researchers, and clinical neuroanesthesiologists, between different ethnic, gender, cultural, and geographic groups; I’m looking forward to celebrating 50 years of SNACC with my friends and colleagues in September and learning about what’s next in neuroscience.

Back to top