Cardiothoracic Anesthesiologist, Pulmonary Researcher Joins Columbia Anesthesiology

November 15, 2021
Marcos Vidal Melo, MD, PhD

Marcos Vidal Melo, MD, PhD, an internationally renowned cardiopulmonary scientist and anesthesiologist, has joined the Department of Anesthesiology at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons as chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology.

Before joining Columbia on Nov. 1, Vidal Melo was professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School and the Hellman Endowed Chair in Anesthesia Research in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Vidal Melo is an expert on the impact of mechanical ventilation on the cardiopulmonary system and the use of imaging to investigate the changes in the lung that accompany mechanical ventilation and acute lung injury. In 2003 he pioneered the use of PET scans to estimate gas exchange in diseased lungs, which has significantly advanced the understanding of lung injury.

His research has had significant impact on critical care medicine, anesthesiology, and radiological approaches to ventilation and perfusion and inflammation imaging of the lung.

Among Vidal Melo’s current NIH-funded studies is a multi-institutional study he directs across 16 medical centers to address the wide and unexplained variability in anesthetic management of ventilation strategies during major open abdominal surgery, which often produces postoperative pulmonary complications. The findings of the research could shift the paradigm of care for millions of patients and reduce the estimated 1.1 million postoperative pulmonary complications and 46,000 associated deaths each year.

As a leader in the field of clinical and translational research in anesthesia, Vidal Melo founded and directs the Perioperative Research Network, a national network of academic anesthesiologists and intensivists performing prospective clinical research on postoperative pulmonary outcomes. He currently chairs the National Institutes of Health Study Section on Surgery, Anesthesia, and Trauma. He has published over 100 original articles in peer-reviewed research publications, numerous reviews, editorials, and book chapters.

Vidal Melo also is known as a skillful and inspirational teacher who has supervised hundreds of fellows, residents, and medical students and mentored many postdoctoral students and anesthesiology physician-scientists as they have launched their own academic careers.

“His world-renowned research program will expand our basic and clinical research programs, complementing both the basic lung biology research of senior faculty members and clinical research in protective lung ventilation in our intensive care units,” says Ansgar Brambrink, MD, PhD, chair of anesthesiology and the Emanuel M. Papper Professor of Anesthesiology. “I truly am delighted to welcome him to the department.”

Vidal Melo earned his medical degree from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and completed his clinical anesthesiology residency and cardiac anesthesia fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Before completing his medical training, he earned a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and a PhD in experimental surgery from the University of Heidelberg.

He is board certified in anesthesiology, echocardiography, and pain medicine. He will contribute to the continued excellence of clinical care, education, and research of the Department of Anesthesiology and the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.