WINNER IN FOCUS – Interview with Lara Ferrario, MD

Dr. Theard
M. Angele Théard, MD

By M. Angele Théard, MD
Chair of Membership Committee

Welcome to the WINNER in Focus section of our SNACC newsletter where we are featuring Dr. Lara Ferrario, an inaugural member of the executive committee of the International Council on Perioperative Neuroscience Training (ICPNT). 

Dr. Ferrario
Lara Ferrario, MD

Dr. Ferrario is Chief of the Division of Neuroanesthesiology at the University of Texas McGovern Medical School– UT Houston. There she serves as a strong collaborator promoting close ties with her neurosurgical, neurological, and radiological colleagues, as well as with nurses, managers, and hospital staff to support excellence in neurosurgical care.

Lara’s enthusiastic promotion of neuroanesthesia, SNACC, and her division at UT-Houston is inspiring. The neuroanesthesia fellowship she instituted provides a strong clinical experience that includes opportunities for multidisciplinary research, presentations/participation at our SNACC conferences and teaching. A comprehensive neuroanesthesia curriculum and a robust clinical experience supports fellows and rotating residents.

What/Who influenced you to choose a career in Neuroanesthesia?
During my residency training at Loyola Medical Center, I was fascinated by the complexity of providing anesthesia for neurosurgical cases. I completed my anesthesia training at the University of Texas Medical Center where I met my mentor and role model Dr. Carin Hagberg who was at that time the Neuroanesthesia Director.

How has your mentor helped you in your career in Anesthesia/Neuroanesthesia?
At UT, I directed my clinical and academic efforts in neuroanesthesia and I was soon promoted to the role of Director of the Division of Neuroanesthesia during which time I started a neuroanesthesia fellowship program. As our chair, Dr. Hagberg mentored me by helping to direct my efforts to successfully meet the administrative and academic demands of an ever-growing division. It was also under her mentorship that I joined SNACC.

Which area of clinical neuroanesthesia/research interests you the most and why?
I find anesthesia for neurovascular surgery, the most interesting area of neuroanesthesia care.  Aneurysm clipping, AVM resection, surgical treatment of Moyamoya disease and AV fistula are quite challenging from the clinical aspect and outcomes in these cases are highly influenced by the anesthetic management. The neurovascular field is also the primary focus of my research interest.  I would like to one day answer questions like: What is the perioperative anesthetic management that could guarantee the best short- and long-term outcome following surgical intervention for Moyamoya disease?  

What has been the most challenging/gratifying aspect of your academic career?
The most gratifying aspect of my academic career has been embracing the daily challenges of maintaining the safest environment for my patients while training fellows, residents, and mentoring junior faculty. Training the neuroanesthesia fellows has particularly been my most rewarding and stimulating academic task. My dedication to enriching our neuroanesthesia fellowship program and my desire to formalize fellowship training at UT are well-aligned with my role as a participant as an inaugural member of the International Council for Perioperative Neuroscience Training (ICPNT).

The ICPNT has received significant recognition at the national and international arena. The work required in achieving this is giving me the opportunity to contribute not only to the establishment of a standardized neuroanesthesia fellowship program, but also to contribute in accrediting neuroanesthesia programs in this country as well as in the rest of the world. 

What are some of your future career goals?
As neuroanesthesia division lead at UT, I look forward to increasing collaboration with our basic scientists. The association with basic science is key to helping answer questions and provide guidance in hypothesis development of clinical problems that originate from our clinical settings.  As a mentor, I look forward to orchestrating recurrent monthly seminars to help support our educational director in our academic neuroanesthesia program. It is a privilege to be working with the taskforce for the accreditation of the neuroanesthesia fellowship.

This work is very important to our specialty and in an effort to do more, I am hoping to for an opportunity to one day serve on the Committee on Advanced Specialty Training international (CAST), the accreditation authority for neurosurgical subspecialties and the model for accreditation through ICPNT.

What advice would you like to share with medical students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty choosing a career in neuroanesthesia?
My advice to junior faculty, particularly to women, choosing a career in neuroanesthesia, would be to constantly challenge yourself and to take on complex cases while keeping themselves academically challenged. This academic challenge is both at a personal career level and at a teaching level. Furthermore, regardless of where one is working (private or academic) being part of a scientific society like SNACC helps to keep the academic curiosity alive. In the academic setting, this translates into that knowledge of practice and teaching.

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