As a practicing anesthesiologist, Dr. Lennertz has extensive experience working with medications that alter memory and consciousness. The mechanisms of many anesthetic drugs remain remarkably unclear and understanding these mechanisms will improve safety and side effects associated with anesthesia. Studying how anesthetic agents disrupt consciousness also may inform our understanding of diseases that affect memory and consciousness, such as delirium and dementia.
The Lennertz research group collaborates with other investigators to engage in translational animal and human research studies. An ongoing clinical study led by Dr. Sanders and Dr. Pearce combines longitudinal clinical, biomarker, and imaging data to understand the role of inflammation in the development of postoperative delirium and dementia. Another project involves multiple UW departments to study how psychedelics treat depression. Ongoing animal studies partner with the Pearce laboratory to understand how the general anesthetic etomidate impairs memory. The approach leverages advances in protein engineering and microscopy to visualize neural activity in freely moving animals. Further, our upcoming collaboration with Dr. Engle will explore the transition from acute to chronic pain.