Dr. Holger Eltzschig
Dr. Holger Eltzschig

The “Number One” physician scientist in the field of perioperative medicine is now a member of the McGovern Medical School faculty thanks, in part, to support from the UT System STAR awards program.

Holger Eltzschig, M.D., Ph.D., an internationally recognized expert in perioperative organ protection, has joined the faculty of the Department of Anesthesiology as professor of anesthesiology and is the recipient of a UT System Faculty Translational STARs Award. He is being named the first holder of a McGovern Chair.

The UT System Board of Regents created the Faculty Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention (STARs) Program in 2004 to help UT institutions attract and retain the best-qualified faculty. Awards, which can be used to purchase equipment and renovate facilities, require institutional support. Priority is given to recruitment or retention of individuals with national reputations and the promise of election to national honorific societies.

Eltzschig was recruited from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where he was professor of anesthesiology, director of the Organ Protection Program, and chief of anesthesia service for oncologic surgery.  A clinician-investigator, Eltzschig’s work involves basic, translational, and clinical research focused on many aspects of perioperative organ protection. He has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health with 3-6 concurrent R01 grants (or their equivalents) since moving to the United States in 2007.  At the same time, he continues to be an active clinician working in the operating room.

A native of Germany, Eltzschig received his medical degree from the Eberhard-Karls University and clinical training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he completed a surgical internship, anesthesiology residency, and fellowship in cardiac anesthesia and intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography. He pursued a research fellowship on basic mechanisms of hypoxia-elicited changes in gene expression and function at Harvard Medical School. His findings there established the basis of his numerous translational studies related to perioperative organ injury protection.

At UTHealth, Eltzschig’s laboratory will use a variety of methods to study perioperative organ injury. These will include cell culture, hypoxia exposure, basic immunologic approaches, and a wide range of animal models of organ injury, including acute and chronic lung injury models, intestinal inflammation, hepatic injury, acute kidney injury, and myocardial injury.  He pursues diverse but integrated approaches to answer crucial questions. Key to Eltzschig’s work is a large biobank of genetic knockout mice he has established with tissue‐specific deletions of hypoxia-inducible transcription factor and adenosine signaling events.  Plans are in the works to establish a multidiscipline Perioperative Research Center that Eltzschig will direct.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Eltzschig as part of our UTHealth family. Dr. Eltzschig is an exceptional investigator who brings innovation, enthusiasm, and a positive ‘can-do’ spirit of collaboration and collegiality to our medical school and broader university. I look forward to seeing this program flourish under his leadership,” Dean Barbara J. Stoll said.

“Dr. Eltzschig is a world-class physician scientist with the attitude and skill set that will help many faculty and trainees at UTHealth in the pursuit of translational medicine,” said Michael Blackburn, Ph.D., executive vice president and chief academic officer of UTHealth.  “We are grateful to the UT System for their support of the STARS program that assists us in the recruitment of outstanding faculty.  I want to congratulate Dean Stoll and President Colasurdo on this exciting recruitment, and I look forward to working alongside Dr. Eltzschig to help research continue to thrive at McGovern Medical School.”