News Release

ASA recognizes Judith Hellman, M.D., with its Excellence in Research Award

Grant and Award Announcement

American Society of Anesthesiologists

ORLANDO, Fla. - The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) today presented Judith Hellman, M.D., with its 2019 Excellence in Research Award in recognition of her outstanding research developments regarding sepsis and other forms of inflammatory critical illness. Dr. Hellman's novel discoveries have led to major scientific advances in anesthesiology and immunology.

Dr. Hellman is the William L. Young, M.D., professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

A dedicated physician-scientist, Dr. Hellman's research is focused on basic and translational research on sepsis and other forms of acute organ failure caused by inflammatory critical illness, which are leading causes of death in the intensive care unit. In particular, she studies the class of proteins responsible for recognizing bacteria and disease susceptibility and initiating inflammatory responses to infection. Her research has led to improved understanding of the role white blood cells and other inflammation-causing cells play during illness and injury, including the inability to form blood clots, blood vessel wall permeability, the infiltration of organs by white blood cells, organ injury and organ failure.

In addition to characterizing the effects of inflammation-induced cell dysfunction, Dr. Hellman is studying mechanisms by which the host regulates immune function and healthy responses to sepsis, with the goal of identifying protective factors and developing sepsis therapies for humans. Her research has found that treatment with a certain endocannabinoid (N-arachidonoyl dopamine), a natural cannabis-like molecule produced by the human body, reduces inflammation and coagulation disorders in mice in sepsis models. Further, Dr. Hellman discovered that treatment with an enzyme inhibitor (ERK5) reduces inflammation and coagulation disorders in mice with sepsis and injury.

"I am honored to present this award to Dr. Hellman, who is not only an exceptional professor of anesthesiology, but a committed mentor to the next generation of physician-scientists," said ASA President Linda J. Mason, M.D., FASA. "Dr. Hellman's research has led to an improved understanding of how the body reacts to sepsis and inflammatory critical illness and her substantial research findings have brought the fields of anesthesiology and immunology that much closer to advanced sepsis treatment."

To further demonstrate her commitment to the medical community, Dr. Hellman is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Medical Association, Society of Critical Care Medicine, Association of University Anesthesiologists, Society of Critical Care Anesthesiologists and California Society of Anesthesiologists. She serves on the ASA Committee on Research and the Early-Stage Anesthesiology Scholars Advisory Council. In recognition of her scientific discoveries, Dr. Hellman received the Frontiers in Anesthesia Research Award from the International Anesthesia Research Society in 2015.

Upon receiving her medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, Dr. Hellman completed a residency in internal medicine at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. She then completed a residency in anesthesiology, a fellowship in critical care medicine, and a research fellowship in anesthesia and critical care medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

For more than two decades, Dr. Hellman has been instrumental in the training and career development of scientists and physicians involved in research related to critical care medicine, anesthesia, pain and other aspects of perioperative medicine. Dr. Hellman leads the Pathway to Scientific Independence program, which she helped establish to facilitate the research training of anesthesiologist physician-scientists in the UCSF Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care. Her roles as program director for the National Institutes of Health Institutional Translational Research Training Program (T32) and anesthesia grant and thesis advisor in the UCSF Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program also facilitate direct involvement in the education and development of researchers at multiple stages.

In 2012, Dr. Hellman was elected to the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research Academy of Research Mentors in Anesthesiology in recognition of her local and national mentoring activities. She was also presented the Fellows' Leadership and Advocacy Group Mentorship Award from the UCSF Department of Pediatrics in 2018.



Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 53,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.

For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit Join the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2019 social conversation today. Like ASA on Facebook, follow ASALifeline on Twitter and use the hashtag #ANES19.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.