Our research is focused on understanding how platelet mitochondrial genetics — specifically epigenetics of the electron transport chain — affect the functional response of platelets to stress during the perioperative period. We work with established and novel techniques to examine associations between platelet mitochondrial DNA and the function and lifespan of stored platelets, bleeding outcomes, and the occurrence of myocardial injury after surgery. As part of this work, we collaborate with the Hogan Lab in Anesthesiology and the Alisch Lab in Neurosurgery. We have also developed a novel blood cell labeling technique for research and clinical use in collaboration with the Shafter Lab at the Wisconsin State Laboratory.
We also study patients’ understanding of numbers — ‘health numeracy’ — and its relationship to health equity, decision making, and perioperative outcomes. I led the Anesthesiology Numeracy Study, a cohort study of perioperative outcomes related to health numeracy and the first published report on numeracy in patients undergoing general anesthesia. A follow-up study is currently being developed through collaborations in the Departments of Biostatistics and Psychology.
Aaron Hess, MD, PhD
Department of Anesthesiology
University of Wisconsin