Mark Dershwitz, M.D., Ph.D.

Academic Role: Professor and Academic Vice Chair
Faculty Appointment(s) and Affiliations:

School of Medicine
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences


Photo: Mark Dershwitz, M.D., Ph.D.

Since the first public demonstration of ether anesthesia in 1846 (here in Massachusetts), the majority of general anesthetics are accomplished by administering the primary anesthetic agents by inhalation.  Not so for many of my patients.  I prefer administering general anesthesia  exclusively via the intravenous route. Intravenous anesthesia is not demonstrably safer nor associated with superior outcomes, but to me it is a lot more intellectually satisfying. Intravenous anesthetic agents also do not smell bad. Most general anesthetic agents given by inhalation smell like dry-cleaning fluid (to which they are closely related chemically!)

My other primary interests in teaching residents are in the areas of preventing postoperative nausea and vomiting, an unpleasant (for both patient and anesthesiologist) but unfortunately still common occurrence, and measuring the depth of anesthesia using the newly-introduced EEG monitors.  Not only was I a co-investigator on an early trial in the development of the BIS monitor, but I was also a volunteer participant.  The fact that a small, but significant, portion of the BIS algorithm is based upon the evaluation of my own EEG waves while under propofol anesthesia may or may not make the anesthesia community feel more confident in this new technology.

I am intimately involved in almost every facet of a resident's training at UMass, from interviewing virtually every applicant to roasting every graduate at our yearly graduation banquets.  As part of our comprehensive didactic program, once a week I preside over our review sessions for the written board exams.  Having authored the best-selling review book in our specialty (McGraw-Hill Specialty Board review: Anesthesiology), I feel that I am in a unique position to help our residents prepare for this dreaded exam.  While we undertake our weekly review of board exam questions, we also eat pizza (50% with meat, 50% without) because pizza is an obligatory part of anesthesiology.  I have also sat in on real oral board examinations and coordinate our department's mock oral exams given to our residents.

My hobbies (that my wife insists are too numerous and time-consuming) include tinkering with vintage electronic devices, computer hacking, and still and video photography.  A paradox is that I aim to have the newest and fastest computer equipment while still relying on vacuum tube technology in my audio system.  I am also the unofficial photographer and videographer for the department.

Please click here to see my web page in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology that describes my research in greater detail.



Selected Publications

Dershwitz M, Henthorn TK.  The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of thiopental as used in lethal injection.  Fordham Urban Law J 2008; 35:931-56.

Cooper JB, Blum RH, Carroll JS, Dershwitz M, Feinstein DM, Gaba DM, Morey JC, Singla AK.  Differences in safety climate among hospital anesthesia departments and the effect of a realistic simulation-based training program.  Anesth Analg 2008; 106:574-84.

Dershwitz M.   Is droperidol safe?   Probably...  Semin Anesth Periop Med Pain 2004; 23:291-301.

Dershwitz M.   Droperidol:   should the black box be light gray?   J Clin Anesth 2002; 14:598-603.

Dershwitz M, Michałowski P, Chang YC, Rosow CE, Conlay LA.  Postoperative nausea and vomiting following total intravenous anesthesia with propofol and remifentanil or alfentanil.  How important is the opioid?  J Clin Anesth 2002; 14:275-78.

Dershwitz M, Walsh JL, Morishige RJ, Connors PM, Rubsamen RM, Shafer, SL, Rosow C.   Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of inhaled versus intravenous morphine in healthy volunteers.  Anesthesiology 2000; 93:619-28.

Dershwitz M, Conant JA, Chang YC, Rosow CE, Connors PM.   A randomized double-blind dose-response study of ondansetron in the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting. J Clin Anesth 1998; 10:314-20.

Kearse LA, Rosow C, Zaslavsky A, Connors P, Dershwitz M, Denman W.  Bispectral analysis of the electroencephalogram predicts conscious processing of information during propofol sedation and hypnosis.  Anesthesiology 1998; 88:25-34.

Hoke JF, Shlugman D, Dershwitz M, Michałowski P, Malthouse-Dufore S, Connors PM, Marten D, Rosow CE, Muir KT, Rubin N, Glass PSA.   Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of remifentanil in subjects with renal failure compared to healthy volunteers.   Anesthesiology 1997; 87:533-41.

Dershwitz M, Hoke JF, Rosow CE, Michałowski P, Connors PM, Muir KT, Dienstag JL.   Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of remifentanil in volunteer subjects with severe liver disease.   Anesthesiology 1996; 84:812-20.

Dershwitz M, Randel GI, Rosow CE, Fragen RJ, Connors PM, Librojo ES, Shaw DL, Peng AW, Jamerson BD.   Initial clinical experience with remifentanil, a new opioid metabolized by esterases.   Anesth Analg 1995; 81:619-23.

Dershwitz M, Di Biase PM, Rosow CE, Wilson RS, Sanderson PE, Joslyn AF.   Ondansetron does not affect alfentanil-induced ventilatory depression or sedation.   Anesthesiology 1992; 77:447-52.

Dershwitz M, Rosow CE, Di Biase PM, Joslyn AF, Sanderson PE.   Ondansetron is effective in decreasing postoperative nausea and vomiting.   Clin Pharmacol Ther 1992; 52:96-101.

Dershwitz M, Rosow CE, Di Biase PM, Zaslavsky A.   Comparison of the sedative effects of butorphanol and midazolam.   Anesthesiology 1991; 74:717-24.



Academic Background

Ph.D. (Pharmacology) Northwestern University, 1982
M.D. Northwestern University, 1982



Postdoctoral Training

Massachusetts General Hospital, Residency in Anesthesiology, 1984-86
Massachusetts General Hospital, Research Fellowship in Anesthesiology, 1986-88



Office:  S2-743
Phone:  508-856-2480

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