Marek Mirski, MD, PhD
Marek A. Mirski, MD, PhD, the inaugural Thomas and Dorothy Tung Professor, has had a distinguished clinical and research career. He obtained his undergraduate degrees in biology and chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his medical and doctoral degrees from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. There, Dr. Mirski performed translational research on the cortical mechanisms of seizure propagation under the mentorship of James A. Ferrendelli, MD. During this three year period, Dr. Mirski made several important discoveries in how seizure impulses travel within the brain, leading to publications in the highly regarded journals Science, Journal of Neuroscience, Epilepsia, and Brain Research and leading to a research prize in Neuroscience from Washington University.
Upon completion of his dual MD/PhD degrees, Dr. Mirski remained at Barnes-Jewish Medical Center to complete his medical internship before arriving at Johns Hopkins to continue his clinical training. While at Johns Hopkins, he maintained his laboratory research interest in epilepsy under the guidance of Robert Fisher, MD, in the Department of Neurology, while he completed residencies in both the Departments of Neurology and Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, as well as two fellowships in Neuroanesthesiology and Neurological Critical Care.
In 1992, Dr. Mirski joined the faculty of the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine in the Division of Neuroanesthesiology and Neurocritical Care. He continued his investigative work in epilepsy, even as he began other clinical and laboratory research in the areas of brain injury, cerebral edema, and status epilepticus. During this period, Dr. Fisher and Dr. Mirski's published research on rodent models of seizure termination via deep brain electrical stimulation led to the potential for a translational application of deep brain stimulation in patients.
In 1996, Dr. Mirski took advantage of an opportunity to develop a comprehensive clinical and research neuroscience center at the Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Between 1996 and 1999, he engineered the creation of the first acute neuroscience clinical program in the Pacific Rim, including a sub-specialty neuroscience ICU, acute stroke and brain trauma programs, neuroanesthesiology with intra-operative monitoring capability, a neurological and neurosurgical epilepsy referral center, and a laboratory neuroscience research group under the direction of internationally renowned Bo K. Siesjö, MD, PhD, whom Dr. Mirski recruited to Hawaii.
In 1999, Dr. Mirski was recruited back to Johns Hopkins as Associate Professor and to become the first ever Divisional Director of both the Neurosciences Critical Care Unit and Neuroanesthesia in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine. During this period, his translational work on deep brain electrical stimulation to inhibit seizures was funded by the National Institutes of Health for clinical pilot trials. This successful pilot study led to a Medtronic-funded Phase III randomized clinical trial that was completed in 2006, with favorable results reported in 2008. This interventional therapy for refractory epilepsy is now available in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Dr. Mirski nurtured the Neurosciences Critical Care Unit (NCCU) to its current pre-eminent leadership position as the largest educational and most scientifically prolific neuro ICU program in the United States. Since becoming Director, the NCCU has graduated 46 fellows from its two-year post-graduate training program, of which 29 hold ICU directorship or associate directorship positions at other academic institutions. The continued active mentorship by Dr. Mirski of the joint NCCU and Neuroanesthesia faculty at Johns Hopkins has led to the combined Division becoming the world leader in clinical and translational research within a variety of areas in the field of acute neuroscience care. During the 2012-13 academic year, the group published 106 peer-reviewed articles in 41 distinct medical journals.
Dr. Mirski has been instrumental in the development of several other important clinical and academic programs within the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine. In 2005, he co-created and became Program Director of the new multi-disciplinary Johns Hopkins ICU Percutaneous Tracheostomy Program, which has revolutionized the care of patients requiring tracheostomies. Since 2008, more than 2,250 procedures have been carried out, and more than 15 scientific papers have been published in this field by this multi-disciplinary team from Anesthesiology, Otolaryngology, Trauma and General Surgery, Interventional Pulmonology, and Respiratory Therapy.
In 2009, Dr. Mirski launched the Clinical Research Program Group within the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, which was created to assist and support the efforts of faculty to perform clinical investigations. The Group now oversees more than 25 clinical studies with six full-time study coordinators on staff.
Dr. Mirski has been one of the leaders in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine's entry into the international patient care environment. He has been an ambassador for the Department and the Institution, caring for patients from around the world and leading missions in many countries including Bermuda, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Dr. Mirski has published more than 175 peer-reviewed articles. In addition to his investigation in seizure mechanisms, he has made seminal laboratory and clinical research contributions in the fields of cerebral edema, osmotic therapy, ICU sedation, and the practice of neurological critical care. Dr. Mirski is research editor of several journals and is Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Neurology, and Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. Marek is married to Lenore and they have two daughters—Kara, who is a student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Erin, who graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles and is now working for Price Waterhouse in Los Angeles, California.
About The Thomas and Dorothy Tung Professorship
Thomas J.K. Tung, MD, began his career in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine nearly a half century ago. He earned his medical degree from the National Taiwan University College of Medicine in 1960. After finishing his surgical residency at National Taiwan University Hospital in 1964, Dr. Tung went to Massachusetts General Hospital as a surgical fellow. In 1967, he came to The Johns Hopkins Hospital to begin a residency in Anesthesiology under the leadership of Donald W. Benson, MD, PhD. After completing his residency, Dr. Tung was appointed as assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine. In 1975, he was promoted to associate professor and then, in 2001, he was promoted to full professor.
Dr. Tung has a great wealth of knowledge in clinical anesthesiology, as well as basic science research. His career in research began in collaboration with John L. Cameron, MD, and continued with Solbert Permutt, MD, Richard J. Traystman, PhD, and Raymond C. Kohler, PhD. Dr. Tung's research interests include acid pulmonary injury, cerebral-respiratory interaction, venous air embolism, hypertonic saline, and brain injury. Currently, he is engaged in animal stroke studies. Dr. Tung has published more than 100 peer-reviewed research manuscripts. He has also written three book chapters and holds a United States patent for the "Train-of-Four Monitor," an apparatus used to assess neuromuscular function in response to muscle relaxants given to patients during surgical anesthesia. Dr. Tung has served as an honorary co-chairman of the Physician's Advisory Board of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Over the years, he has become an expert in the field of venous air embolism and has been invited to testify as an expert witness in this area. He has also made a significant contribution to the understanding of the cerebral effect of positive end-expiratory pressure ventilation.
Dr. Tung is an enormously talented clinician. He has been described as "fearless" by his colleagues and over the years has earned the nickname "Dead Eye Tung" from his surgical coworkers because of his unique ability to quickly localize veins for placement of IVs. He is best known for his unique approaches to solving the most challenging cases. Although his primary clinical interest is in neurosurgical anesthesia, Dr. Tung has worked in nearly every area within the anesthesiology specialty. In addition to being a fantastic anesthesiologist, Dr. Tung is an effective teacher and mentor and has helped many of his trainees in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine advance their careers throughout the United States.
Dr. Tung was born in May of 1934 in Taipei, Taiwan. During this time, Taiwan was under Japanese occupation. In his childhood, he witnessed air raid bombardments by United States war planes. During the depression at the end of World War II and through his graduation from medical school, Dr. Tung worked a variety of jobs including making deliveries and tutoring in order to help support his family. After completing his internship at Taiwan University Hospital in 1962, he married Dorothy. Raised in a traditional oriental home, Dorothy believed that her life was destined to be that of a wife and mother. Nevertheless, she worked as a high school English teacher and helped her husband save enough money to study abroad. She made it her life's priority to support her husband's career and to help their children further their education. Dorothy taught their children not to take anything for granted, to maintain a great attitude, to be patient, and to be tenacious about the things they wanted to accomplish in life.
While Dr. Tung studied in the United States, Dorothy flew with their two-year-old daughter, Jeany, and two-month-old son, Thomas, to unite with him in Boston. Their third child, William, was born in the United States. Once all of their children were in elementary school, Dorothy returned to her education and became a nurse. After graduating from the Nursing Program at the Community College of Baltimore County, Essex Campus in 1975, Dorothy worked at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. At some point in each of their lives, the entire Tung family has been associated with Johns Hopkins Medicine: William Tung graduated from the School of Medicine in 1992; Jeany Tung Lundberg completed her residency training in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine in 1993; and Thomas Tung completed his residency training in the Division of Plastic, Reconstructive and Maxillofacial Surgery in the Department of Surgery in 1998.
Dorothy retired from nursing in 2002 and spent much of her time traveling to Japan to visit her parents. In 2005, while in Japan on Mother's Day, Dorothy was tragically killed in a car accident. She is deeply missed by her family and friends. Dr. Tung established the Thomas and Dorothy Tung Professorship in love and admiration for his beloved wife and to commemorate his family's lifelong relationship with Johns Hopkins Medicine.