Dr. Beverley Orser Appointed Chair of the International Anesthesia Research Society Board of Trustees
Photo from Kevin Van Paassen, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
In 1995, a promising junior anesthesiologist, Dr. Beverley Orser, received the first Frontiers in Anesthesia Research Award from the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS). She used the $500,000 USD she received to help establish a basic science program aimed at understanding the mechanisms of general anesthetic drugs. Years later, she credits the award with jump-starting her career.
In the years since, Dr. Orser has worked closely with the IARS. First as a member for three decades, and then serving on the Board of Trustees, a body that oversees the IARS, for the past 10 years. In April 2023, she was elected Chair of the Board of Trustees, becoming the first Canadian woman to hold the post.
"I feel privileged to be able to give back to an organization that has done so much for patients and Canadians and international research," said Dr. Orser.
"Volunteering alongside the other members of the board of trustees has been one of the highlights of my career. I’ve learned so much and have been mentored and supported at every step of my journey. I am the first Canadian woman in this role, and as I see it, different perspectives will help empower our organization and strengthen our mission. Diversity has been, and will continue to be, an accelerator."
The IARS is a not-for-profit, non-political medical society that supports anesthesia and pain medicine research, science, and education. It also works to improve patient care through research. Its core mandates are the dissemination of research funds to promising researchers, creating programs and events to promote collaboration, mentorship, and education among its members, and managing two prominent research journals, Anesthesia & Analgesia and A&A Practice.
Reflecting on her awards as well as the considerable support granted to many of her UofT colleagues by the IARS, Dr. Orser knows firsthand the significance of the organization’s work. During her two-year appointment as Chair, she hopes to continue to support all researchers and find more opportunities for partnership.
"I want to continue to do what the IARS does best, which is facilitate research through funding and collaboration," she said. "I’ve learned that even small amounts of funding can have a tremendous impact on a research program, and we want to grow the amount of funds we have for research.
"The second priority is bringing the community together. The work happens in the labs and in the hospitals, but the IARS must continue to act as a catalyst and help facilitate that work."
Dr. Orser also sees her appointment as an opportunity to encourage others to volunteer their time and energy for other worthy causes. As a wife, mother, and grandmother, she is a master at balancing the many priorities in her life, but it helps that she always finds the work fulfilling. She also recognizes the outstanding support she receives from her family, colleagues at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the University of Toronto.
"You get much more than you give in these positions. I encourage others to just start, to reach out, ask questions, and send those links. We are still climbing out of the pandemic, so we must be gentle on ourselves, but there’s tremendous excitement ahead in our field of anesthesia, pain medicine, and critical care."