News Release

ASA recognizes Robert D. Sanders, Ph.D., with 2020 James E. Cottrell Presidential Scholar Award

Meeting Announcement

American Society of Anesthesiologists

CHICAGO - The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) today presented Robert D. Sanders, B.Sc., M.B.B.S., Ph.D., F.R.C.A., with its 2020 James E. Cottrell Presidential Scholar Award in recognition of his outstanding work in anesthesia and translational research. His research is vast and diverse and, in its entirety, has significantly improved the understanding of how anesthesia impacts the brain. The award is presented annually to an ASA member who has dedicated their formative career to research.

Dr. Sanders is Nuffield Chair of Anaesthetics at Sydney Medical School/Central Clinical School and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia. Previously, he was assistant professor and chair of Research and Development in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Wisconsin (UW), Madison, where his research attracted more than $5.6 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In his neuroscience research program at UW, Dr. Sanders' research focused on the mechanisms behind delirium and cognitive decline and the changes in sensory perception and consciousness under anesthesia. His research is improving outcomes for elderly patients because it identifies factors that can be used to identify patients at high risk for delirium, who should receive additional attention before surgery, in hopes of reducing their morbidity and mortality. Dr. Sanders' research is also informing physicians on the physiological processes that are the basis for perioperative delirium and cognitive decline with the aim of developing novel therapeutics for these conditions.

Prior to moving to Wisconsin, Dr. Sanders studied and practiced in London, where he contributed to diverse research on cognitive function. He led multiple projects involving anesthetics such as xenon and dexmedetomidine, using them to address neuroprotection and neurotoxicity. Perhaps of most significance, he investigated the impact of surgery on patients' long-term cognitive health, which has provided great insight to anesthesia professionals.

"I congratulate Dr. Sanders on earning this well-deserved honor," said ASA President Mary Dale Peterson, M.D., MSHCA, FACHE, FASA. "His inquisitive spirit and persistence have opened doors for improving outcomes for patients at risk for delirium and cognitive decline, a significant issue for the many elderly patients undergoing surgery. He carries the passion he has for his research into his work as a mentor for junior faculty, residents, graduate students and undergraduates."

Dr. Sanders received his doctorate in biological sciences from Imperial College London in England and completed his residency in anesthesia at London's Imperial School of Anaesthesia. Following his residency, he began working as an assistant professor at UW.

With his outstanding dedication to academia, Dr. Sanders has had more than 40 peer-reviewed articles published during the past five years, and received a Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award and three research project grants from the National Institutes of Health. In addition to and as a result of these achievements, he was awarded the 2020 Royal College of Anaesthetists Macintosh Professorship.



Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 54,000 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® 2020 social conversation today. Like ASA on Facebook, follow ASALifeline on Twitter and use the hashtag #ANES20.

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.