Michael Montana, MD, PhD receives the 2017 PhRMA Foundation Award

May 23, 2017

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Michael Montana, MD, PhD has been awarded the 2017 PhRMA Foundation Faculty Development Award in Clinical Pharmacology

Michael Montana, MD, PhD has been awarded the 2017 Faculty Development Award in Clinical Pharmacology from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Foundation. 

His project, titled “Opioid Sensitivity in Adults with Treated and Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea”, explores the use of opioids to treat pain in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is often controversial. Patients with OSA are thought to have increased sensitivity to the deleterious effects of opioids, especially respiratory depression. In fact, practice guidelines warn against using opioids to treat pain in OSA patients. Nevertheless, objective evidence to support these guidelines is scant. If patients with OSA have unchanged opioid sensitivity, and physicians inappropriately withhold therapy, these patients will be deprived of appropriate pain relief. Alternatively, if OSA patients have increased opioids sensitivity, then there is risk for significant morbidity and mortality. A lack of knowledge to support pain treatment best practices may affect up to 5 million surgical patients with OSA annually in America alone. The immediate goal of this research is to test the hypothesis that a) untreated OSA increases the clinical response to opioids, b) the magnitude of any observed increase is proportional to the degree of nighttime hypoxemia that a given patient experiences, and c) that treatment of OSA with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) reverses these effects. The long-term goal of this research is to embark upon an innovative new research program at the intersection of pain, opioid clinical pharmacology, and obstructive sleep apnea.

Dr. Montana completed his MD/PhD at Washington University in 2012 and chose to train at Washington University/St. Louis Children’s Hospital for both anesthesia residency and pediatrics anesthesia fellowship for many reasons, including the quality of the mentorship, the exposure to high acuity cases, and the excellence of the academic environment. His interest in academic anesthesiology stems directly from his MD/PhD training at Washington University and the knowledge that it is an institution where one can train and function as a true clinician-scientist. For his residency, Dr. Montana was one of two members of the inaugural class of the Academic Scholar Advancement Program (ASAP) that combines anesthesiology research, residency, and fellowship into one accelerated five year program. Coming from a research background, Dr. Montana knew that he wanted to pursue a career in academic anesthesiology, and ASAP provided an ideal blend of clinical training, individualized mentoring, and protected research time combined with a clinical fellowship for conducting scientific inquiry, developing a research career, and securing extramural funding.

Dr. Montana’s research interests include characterizing the receptors involved in opioid sensitization in both pediatric and adult patients with obstructive sleep apnea, furthering the understanding of any potential negative impacts of commonly used anesthetics, and transitioning pre-clinical analgesic molecules into novel pain killers for use in human patients. Washington University, along with Barnes Jewish and St. Louis Children’s Hospitals, provide a spectacular environment to pursue these interests. 


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