2018 SNACC Women in Neuroanesthesiology and Neuroscience Education and Research (WINNER) Abstract Award

By Alana Flexman, MD, FRCPC
Chair, SNACC Scientific Affairs Committee


Alana Flexman, MD, FRCPC

On October 12, 2018 I had the privilege of presenting the inaugural WINNER Abstract Award to Dr. Shu Li, MD (Beijing Tiantan Hospital, Capital Medical University) for her abstractMannitol Improves Intraoperative Brain Relaxation in Patients with Midline Shift Undergoing Supratentorial Tumor Surgery: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” This award is given to the highest-scoring scientific abstract among first-time female abstract presenters at the SNACC Annual Meeting, and is part of the WINNER program launched at SNACC this year to address gender disparities in academic neuroanesthesiology. The purpose of the WINNER abstract is to formally recognize and support scientific contributions from female researchers in the SNACC community. With this goal, the successful recipient receives a complementary one-year SNACC membership and registration at the next SNACC meeting, as well as mentorship and committee membership opportunities within SNACC. I had a chance to ask our first “WINNER” a few questions about her research career after the meeting.

How did you get interested in neuroanesthesia research?

Perusing the truth is the fundamental nature of every human being. It comes naturally to me as I was surrounded with all kinds of neurological and neurosurgical diseases. The mystery of the mechanisms behind these diseases motivated me to start with neuroanesthesia research. In addition, research in neuroanesthesia is broad across other disciplines, showing there is no border in science.

I was impressed to see you have training in both anesthesiology and neurosurgery. How has this helped you so far in your career?

With three years of neurosurgical training, I’m familiar with the etiology, anatomy, surgical procedure as well as the interests of surgeons. Training in both anesthesiology and neurosurgery helped me to connect scattered points together and draw a better picture of the whole story.

What role did your mentor(s) play in your research success?

Firstly, I don't think it is a ‘success’, it is only the beginning. My neurosurgical mentor, Prof. Jizong Zhao, who is also the Academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences, led me to the field of scientific research. He guided me to develop not only basic skills of research, but also taught me to persist and never give up. In my training in Montreal, my mentor Professor Guy. Rouleau and Professor Lan Xiong introduced me to the world of genomics. Finally, with the help of Prof. Ruquan Han, I can connect neurosurgery, genomics and anesthesia together, with his advice: do whatever you want. Prof. Yuming Peng designed the mannitol project, and taught me one thing: don’t panic. So here I am.

What do you hope to do next in your research career?

I am mostly attracted to brain tumor and cerebrovascular disease-related topics recently. Before I initiate my next project, I think I need more training, both in clinical research and basic research.

Do you have any advice for other women just starting out in research?

For female researchers, the dilemma we confront the most is the balance between life and work. I think it is a common problem every women encounters in real life. It is quite tricky, but for me, I just follow my heart and always know what I want.

Thank you Dr. Li for your insights and we hope to see you at the SNACC Annual Meeting next year!

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