Richard Rivers, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Director of Ophthalmological Anesthesia Division
  • Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine



Research Interests

Regulation of blood flow; Vascular communication

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The Johns Hopkins Hospital (Main Entrance)

Appointment Phone: 410-955-1677
1800 Orleans St.
Sheikh Zayed Tower
Baltimore, MD 21287 map
Fax: 410-502-3711


Dr. Richard J. Rivers is an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine and ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His area of clinical expertise is ophthalmological anesthesia. He serves as chief of anesthesia at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins.

Dr. Rivers received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Clarkson University and his medical degree from the University of Toledo College of Medicine. He was a transitional resident at the University of Toledo Hospital before performing an anesthesiology research fellowship and a residency in anesthesiology at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center. Dr. Rivers then completed a Ph.D. in physiology at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center.

Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Dr. Rivers was on faculty at the University of Rochester and then became chief of anesthesia at Lattimore Surgical Center in Rochester. He joined the Johns Hopkins faculty as chief of Anesthesia in 2002 and completed an M.B.A. at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School in 2009.

Dr. Rivers’ primary research interest is vascular communication and the regulation of blood flow.

He is past president of the Ophthalmic Anesthesia Society and is a member of many professional organizations including the Maryland Society of Anesthesiologists, the International Anesthesia Research Society and the American Society of Anesthesiologists. more


  • Director of Ophthalmological Anesthesia Division
  • Chief of Anesthesia, Wilmer Eye Institute
  • Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine
  • Associate Professor of Ophthalmology

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • MD; University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences (1983)


  • Anesthesiology; University of Virginia School of Medicine (1989)


  • Anesthesiology; University of Virginia School of Medicine (1990)

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Anesthesiology (Anesthesiology) (1990)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Rivers' primary interest is vascular communication. He is studying microcirculation physiology to determine how metabolic demands are signaled between the tissue and the vascular network and along the vascular network itself. To conduct his work, Dr. Rivers uses a technique called intravital fluorescence microscopy, which enables him to measure the blood flow within a single artery, vein or capillary. Also, with micropipettes, specific agonists and antagonists can be applied directly to the blood vessel to determine the effect on blood flow in real time.

Dr. Rivers is also working to determine the role for inwardly rectifying potassium channels (Kir) 2.1 and 6.1 in signaling along the vessel wall, as well as the role of gap junctions. One of his initiatives is to develop viral vectors to use as tools to study the promoters that are specific for cell types in the vessel wall. The vectors are used to downregulate proteins such as the potassium channels and gap junctions to determine the effect on vascular function.

Dr. Rivers discovered that using hyaluronidase to break down the extracellular matrix enhances viral expression. In the future, Dr. Rivers may use RNA interference (RNAi) as another method for downregulating the proteins. He is also testing mice with specific gene deletions in his experimental models.

Ultimately, Dr. Rivers hopes that a better basic understanding of the microcirculation will lead to a better comprehension of disease processes, such as the angiogenesis that occurs in cancer and circulatory dysfunction associated with diabetes. This knowledge at the molecular level could enable the development of specific drugs that can target these processes and limit disease progression.

Selected Publications

Miriel VA., Chen Y, Rivers RJ. “The involvement of CGRP, adrenomedullin, and sensory nerves in remote vasomotor responses within the hamster cheek pouch microcirculation.” Microvasc Res. 2009 Mar;77(2):192-7. doi: 10.1016/j.mvr.2008.10.006. Epub 2008 Nov 19.

Thengchaisri N, Miriel VM, and Rivers RJ. “Multiple receptor subtypes and multiple mechanisms of dilation are involved in the vascular network dilation caused by adenosine.” Microvasc Res. 2009 May;77(3):356-63. doi: 10.1016/j.mvr.2009.01.004. Epub 2009 Jan 27.

Frank SM, Savage WJ, Rothschild JA, Rivers RJ, Ness PM, Paul SL, Ulatowski JA. “Variability in blood and blood component utilization as assessed by an anesthesia information management system.” Anesthesiology. 2012 Jul;117(1):99-106. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e318255e550.

Frank SM, Savage W, Rothschild JA, Rivers RJ, Ness PM, Paul SL, Ulatowski JA. “Optimizing preoperative blood ordering with data acquired from an anesthesia information management system.” Anesthesiology. 2013 Jun;118(6):1286-97. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e3182923da0.

Ibrahim MA, Do DV, Sepah YJ, Shah SM, Van Anden E, Hafiz G, Donahue JK, Rivers RJ, Balkissoon J, Handa JT, Campochiaro PA, Nguyen QD. “Vascular disrupting agent for neovascular age related macular degeneration: a pilot study of the safety and efficacy of intravenous combretastatin a-4 phosphate.” BMC Pharmacol Toxicol. 2013 Jan 14;14:7. doi: 10.1186/2050-6511-14-7.

Activities & Honors


  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Physiological Society
  • American Society of Anesthesiologists
  • Association of University Anesthesiologists
  • International Anesthesia Research Society
  • Maryland Society of Anesthesiologists
  • Microcirculation Society
  • Ophthalmic Anesthesia Society
  • Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society
  • Tau Beta Pi Honor Society

Professional Activities

  • Peer reviewer, American Journal of Physiology
  • Peer reviewer, Journal of Applied Physiology
  • Peer reviewer, European Journal of Physiology
  • Peer reviewer, Science
  • Peer reviewer, Journal of Cell Biology
  • Peer reviewer, Journal of Physiology (London)
  • Peer reviewer, Microcirculation
  • Peer reviewer, Journal of Ophthalmology
  • Reviewer, American Heart Association National Grant submissions, 2008

Patient Ratings & Comments

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