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“Ronald K. Baker PhD, MD was a resident in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Arizona in the late 70s when I was a junior faculty member. We did many cases together, and I remember him well, and fondly, as an excellent resident and physician, always on top of things. He had an engaging personality, scraggly mustache, and a wry (sometimes smirky) smile and sense of humor. Like me, he was a bit quirky, with esoteric interests (I wasn’t surprised to learn he cared for distressed ferrets). He had excellent hands for procedures, but roughly hewn, as if he worked on cars or other labor-intensive hobbies in his spare time.
He had been a chemist and I queried him about van der Waals forces, the subtle quantum interactions by which anesthetic gases erase consciousness, still mysterious to this day. Favoring true ‘chemical’ bonds, Ron disdained the weak and evanescent quantum forces, and we debated their importance. I pressed him about microtubules inside neurons, which I believed (and still believe) mediate consciousness and anesthetic action. At that, Ron just smiled and smirked even more wryly.
The Department was new, having been a Division of Surgery until the mid 70s, and led by its founding Chairman, Burnell R. Brown Jr. PhD, MD. Like me, Ron had been recruited into Anesthesiology through Burnell’s broad-based intellect, humor and passion about the future of the field. Burnell joined in our discussions about anesthetic action, chemistry and physics, and a broad range of other topics, often between cases in the ‘doctor’s lounge’, literally a smoke-filled room with a large, central ash tray (how times have changed!). The field of Anesthesiology was also new, emerging from its role as ‘surgeon’s handmaiden’ into a specialty of its own. Our tools were primitive, before the days of pulse oximetry, capnography, automatic blood pressure cuffs, propofol, LMAs, ultrasound and ventilators. We spent much of our intra-operative time squeezing the ventilation bag and blood pressure cuff bulbs, a finger on the pulse, and an eye on the color of the lips and tongue.
I lost touch with Ron after his residency, but from what I’ve read, he had a happy and successful life and career in Colorado. I imagine he adapted well to the many advances in Anesthesiology, but presumed he remained, like me, ‘old school’ at heart.
Ron passed away in 2017 and generously bequeathed 8.8 million dollars to the University of Arizona College of Medicine and Department of Anesthesiology.
– Dr. Stuart Hameroff, MD
New location for Department of Anesthesiology
The Department of Anesthesiology moved into its new operating rooms on Monday April 9th that are located on the 3rd floor of the recently dedicated Tower 1, a 9 story, 670,000 square foot hospital, part of the Banner University Medical Center Tucson expansion project. The new peri-operative space includes 22 state of the art operating rooms, including 2 hybrid ORs, dedicated regional block and procedure rooms, office space for the Board Runner, Peri-Operative Medical Director and Director for Clinical Operations. A new Anesthesiology Library contains computers for charting as well as space for breaks between cases. New on-call rooms are located in separate Resident and Attending call suites that are in close proximity to operating rooms and will be a comfortable place to rest between clinical duties. Tower 1 has a beautiful sunny cafeteria (Level 1) with indoor and outdoor seating options, a coffee bar (Level 2) with mountain views and an outdoor roof-top patio (Level 4), all within a minute’s walk from the operating rooms. Also located in Tower 1 are procedural areas including Cardiology laboratories (Cath and EP), Interventional Radiology, MRI and CT scanner (Level 2). Level 5 houses the new OB center with OB Triage, Labor and Delivery rooms, OB operating rooms and pre- and post-partum rooms. All Adult ICUs will eventually relocate to Tower 1, with MICU (Level 7) and Surgical ICU (Level 8) being the first to relocate. The Cardio-vascular ICU will move in early May (Level 6). Faculty and staff will have convenient parking in Parking Garage C located just to the west of Tower 1 main entrance.
Throughout his long career, Anesthesiology faculty and University of Arizona Professor Stuart Hameroff MD has studied the mechanism of action of anesthetic gases to unravel the mystery of consciousness. Hameroff’s proposed theoretical mechanism, that anesthetics erase consciousness by dampening quantum vibrations in microtubules inside brain neurons, is one of 3 theories listed in Wikipedia’s page ‘Theories of general anesthetic action’. See Link. And the theory of consciousness based on quantum vibrations in microtubules which Hameroff developed with Oxford physicist Sir Roger Penrose, ‘orchestrated objective reduction’ (‘Orch OR’) See Link, is one of 6 major theories of consciousness included in a project sponsored by the Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF). The project sets up adversarial collaboration among the theories, a kind of ‘playoff’ to find the ‘champion’ theory best supported by experimental evidence. Orch OR proponents Penrose and Hameroff, along with selected experimentalists, will face off against ‘Integrated Information Theory’ (‘IIT’) proponents Giulio Tononi (U Wisconsin) and Christof Koch (Allen Institute) in January in Tucson.
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Researchers Explore A Drug-Free Idea To Relieve Chronic Pain: Green Light
“Dr. Mohab Ibrahim, the migraine study’s principal investigator and an associate professor at the University of Arizona, says that on average, people experienced a 60% decrease in the intensity of their migraines and a drop from 20 migraines a month to about six”.
Click here to read more on the article published by NPR.