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Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Utah Celebrates 50 Years of Excellence and Innovation

The Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Utah is proud to announce its golden jubilee, marking 50 years of exceptional accomplishments and groundbreaking contributions to the field of anesthesiology. 

Since its inception in 1973, the department has evolved into a global leader in perioperative care, research, and innovation.

“Looking back over the last five decades, the Department of Anesthesiology has undergone a remarkable journey, with each decade characterized by significant milestones,” said Talmage Egan, M.D., chair of the Department of Anesthesiology. 

In the 1970s, the department achieved the coveted status of an independent department and appointed its first chair, K.C. Wong, M.D. The 1980s witnessed the successful implantation of the first artificial heart, the establishment of the Pain Management Center, and the initiation of entrepreneurial endeavors within the department. In the 1990s, the department established the acute pain service and made important contributions to the development of the short-acting opioid remifentanil. 

The turn of the century brought new changes, including an expansion of entrepreneurial initiatives and an increased reputation as a global leader in perioperative echocardiography.

In the years that followed, the department emerged as a pioneer in total intravenous anesthesia and ultrasound-guided block techniques. Recent highlights included playing a crucial role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Anesthesiology is at the nexus of so much of the drama that happens in medicine and in the care of patients,” Egan said. “Our practice is increasingly perioperative, which we define as comprehensive care of the surgical patient over the entire spectrum of perioperative time and space."

“The department's accomplishments over the last 50 years are a testament to the dedication and expertise of its talented faculty, residents, and staff,” said Michael Good, M.D., CEO of University of Utah Health and Executive Dean of the Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine at the University of Utah. “The department has consistently pushed the boundaries of innovation, combining engineering and medicine to advance patient care.”

“As we reflect on the past, we can’t help but be excited as we look ahead,” Egan said. “I know I speak on behalf of the entire department when I say we are optimistic, determined and committed to providing the highest quality care to patients, advancing research and innovation, and shaping the future of anesthesiology.” 

Behind the Masks Anesthesiology