Lew Romer has been an attending physician in the PICU since 2000. He is also a Co-Leader of the Pediatric Pulmonary Hypertension Program. As a senior faculty member in the PICU, Dr. Romer ensures that patients receive timely and outstanding quality of care. He oversees a patient’s entire care team, which includes fellows, junior faculty, residents, nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and Child Life specialists. He also forms treatment plans collaboratively with colleagues and other consultants in the treatment of pediatric patients with pulmonary hypertension.
Dr. Romer has a research program that focuses on the study of endothelial cells – the cells that line all blood vessels. Endothelial cells are finely tuned to regulate the delivery of nutrients to cells, to serve as a barrier between the bloodstream and the tissues that make up all organ systems, and to ensure the unimpeded supply of blood flow. His laboratory team investigates endothelial cell adhesion and signaling during health and disease and works on tissue engineering blood vessels for both regenerative medicine and diagnostic drug-testing applications. Understanding how to optimize blood vessel function is a ubiquitous theme in the care of patients with critical illness. His work will increase our knowledge of how to improve blood vessel function, both through medications that regulate vessel caliber and by engineering new blood vessels that can increase blood supply to organs at-risk. He is also involved in research efforts to examine specific pharmacotherapies for pulmonary hypertension in children.
Dr. Romer sees himself as both a micro- and macro-environmentalist. On the micro-scale, he studies the matrix environment in which cells live and how it changes the behavior and effectiveness of cells that form blood vessels. This microenvironment changes as a result of disease and disease therapy. He hopes to restore this microenvironment to normality or even to a state of super-normal potential for regeneration. On the macro scale, he is interested in creating a supportive educational environment for all caregivers in the PICU who must deal with extremely stressful situations. He believes that if we can create optimal educational tools and environmental cues for trainees and practitioners, we can better equip them to deal with the extremely challenging events that occur in the PICU. This will enable clinicians to focus better and provide better care.
In his job, Dr. Romer enjoys taking care of children and their families and coordinating the team effort that it requires. He also enjoys teaching, scientific and translational research, and helping to foster the professional development of colleagues. When he is away from work, he enjoys Jewish studies, community service, thinking about the challenges that as yet have no answers, drawing, painting, bicycling, and making music.
Dr. Romer attended Dartmouth College for undergraduate studies and then Dartmouth Medical School. He earned his MD in 1981 and went on to receive pediatric training at the University of Utah Primary Children’s Hospital. After a three-year stint in private practice as a general pediatrician/ NICU director/ PICU co-director/ and children’s air and ground transport service director in Northern Lower Michigan, he did a fellowship in pediatric critical care at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (1987-1989) and a research fellowship in integrin-mediated adhesion and signaling at the Wistar Institute (1989-1990). His early years as a journeyman faculty investigator were spent in the lab of Professor Keith Burridge at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, while Dr. Romer served as the Division Chief and Fellowship Director for Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.