Debra Schwinn, MD

Scientific Advisory Board, Member
Debra Schwinn, MD

Debra Schwinn, MD

University of Iowa

Scientific Profile

Areas of Specialty: Dr. Schwinn is a practicing anesthesiologist with expertise in perioperative genomics and molecular pharmacology of alpha1-adrenergic receptors (alpha1ARs).

Clinical Care and Research Activities: Dr. Schwinn’s laboratory investigates the role of acute and chronic stress on human physiologic responses in health and disease, using the perioperative period as a robust disturbance. The focus of this research is on the regulation of stress hormone receptors (alpha1- adrenergic receptors), using genetic, molecular, pharmacological and cell-based approaches. This research has significant implications for understanding mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease, and is complemented by human perioperative genomics studies designed to examine how the stress of surgery affects patient outcome. Dr. Schwinn and colleagues are working to answer how genetic variability relates to patient outcome in settings involving cardiovascular surgery, intensive care and anesthesia. Her extensive research activities, leadership and ongoing pursuit for patient safety greatly support the SmartTots mission.

Q & A

When and why did you become interested in your field?

Anesthesiology is a wonderful field because it encompasses all aspects of acute care medicine — deep knowledge of human physiology and pharmacology, as well as intensive care medicine are essential.

Why SmartTots?

As a board member of the IARS, I voted in favor of trying to find a way to understand how to keep our most vulnerable members of society (the very young) as safe as possible during surgery and other required medical procedures.

Are there any specific goals you would like to see SmartTots accomplish?

Understanding which drugs are the safest for the pediatric population is very important for anesthesia and surgery, but also for ICU and other aspects of pediatric care.

How can the general public support SmartTots?

Donating to fund essential research so that we can begin to understand how sedatives and anesthetics affect the developing brain is important for the ultimate safety of our pediatric patients.


Scientific Advisory Board, Member

International Anesthesia Research Society

Trustee Emeritus

University of Iowa

Dean, Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine
Professor of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Biochemistry


Stanford University School of Medicine – MD (1983)
College of Wooster – BS, Chemistry (1979)

Professional Affiliations

  • American Heart Association
  • American Society of Anesthesiologists
  • Institute of Medicine
  • International Anesthesia Research Society
  • Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Foundation

Recent Awards and Honors

  • American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Excellence in Research Award (2007)
  • Elected Member, Association of American Physicians (2005-present)
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Anaesthetists (2005-present)
  • Editor, Journal of Biological Chemistry (2005-2010)
  • Member, Stanley Sarnoff Cardiovascular Endowment Scientific Board (2004-2010)
  • Alumni Trustee, College of Wooster (2004-2007)
  • Elected Member, Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences (2002-present)
  • Duke University Medical Center Distinguished Faculty Award (2002)
  • Member, Board of Trustees, International Anesthesia Research Society (2002-present)
  • Highlighted Alumni, Stanford University School of Medicine (2000)

Selected Publications

Weslby IJ, Podgoreanu MV, Phillips-Bute B, Morris R, Matthew JP, Smith PK, Newman MF, Schwinn DA, Stafford-Smith M; Perioperative Genetics and Safety Outcomes Study Investigative Team. Association of the 98T ELAM-1 polymorphism with increased bleeding after cardiac surgery. J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth 2010;24(3):427-33.

Cobb JP, Cairns CB, Bulger E, Wong HR, Parsons PE, Angus DC, Gentile NT, Hoyt DB, Schwinn DA, Wiener-Kronish JP, Upperman JS. The United States critical illness and injury trials group: an introduction. J Trauma 2009;67(2 Suppl):S159-60.

Turner AT, Stevens RD, Bain JR, Muehlbauer MJ, van der Westhuizen J, Mathew JP, Schwinn DA, Glower DD, Newgard CB, Podgoreanu MV. Metabolomic profiling reveals distinct patterns of myocardial substrate use in humans with coronary artery disease or left ventricular dysfunction during surgical ischemia-reperfusion. Circulation 2009;119(13):1736-46.

Phillips-Bute B, Mathew JP, Blumenthal JA, Morris RW, Podgoreanu MV, Smith M, Stafford-Smith M, Grocott HP, Schwinn DA, Newman MF; Perioperative Genetics and Safety Outcomes Investigative Team. Relationship of genetic variability and depressive symptoms to adverse events after coronary artery bypass surgery.Psychosom Med 2008;70(9):953-9.

Morris DP, Lei B, Wu YX, Michelotti GA, Schwinn DA. The alpha1a-adrenergic receptor occupies membrane rafts with its G protein effectors but internalizes via clathrin-coated pits. J Biol Chem 2008;283(5):2973-85.

Michelotti GA, Brinkley DM, Morris DP, Smith MP, Louie RJ, Schwinn DA. Epigenetic regulation of human alpha1d-adrenergic receptor gene expression: a role for DNA methylation in Sp1-dependent regulation. FASEB J 2007;21(9):1979-93.

Podgoreanu MV, White WD, Morris RW, Mathew JP, Stafford-Smith M, Welsby IJ, Grocott HP, Milano CA, Newman MF, Schwinn DA; Perioperative Genetics and Safety Outcomes Study (PEGASUS) Investigative Team. Inflammatory gene polymorphisms and risk of postoperative myocardial infarction after cardiac surgery. Circulation 2006;114:275-81.

Podgoreanu MV, Schwinn DA. New paradigms in cardiovascular medicine: emerging technologies and practices: perioperative genomics. J Am Coll Cardiol 2005;46(11):1965-77.