Kevin K. tremper, md, phd

Robert B. Sweet Professor and Chair,  Anesthesiology


Dr. Tremper obtained his undergraduate degree at the University of Denver, starting as a major in Mathematics and changed to Chemical Engineering at the end of his freshman year.  After completing his BSChE at Denver he obtained a Master’s degree and a PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.  During his PhD he became interested in the applications of engineering to physiology.  He conducted a project, which involved a mathematical model of tissue perfusion.  At the completion of this project he decided to attend medical school with a career goal of applying his engineering background to a career in academic medicine.  During medical school he conducted research on various techniques for continuously monitoring oxygenation in patients.  Dr. Tremper was granted an early three-year graduation from medical school and took a surgical internship at Harbor/UCLA Medical Center.  During this internship and a critical care research fellowship with Will Shoemaker to follow, he conducted further studies in animals and critically ill patients on various techniques for continuously monitoring oxygen and carbon dioxide.  Because of this interest in tissue oxygen measurement and oxygen monitoring, he became involved in the clinical testing of the first “artificial blood” product in 1981. 

In January of 1981 he began a residency in Anesthesiology at UCLA Medical Center.  Upon completion of his residency, he returned to the University of California, Irvine as a faculty member in the Department of Anesthesiology where he received tenure in 1984 and was appointed acting chair in 1984 and permanent chair 1985. He remained Associate Professor and Chair until 1990 when he accepted the position of Professor and Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Michigan where he continues today. 

After approximately 15 years of research on continuous monitoring of respiratory gases, he switched his research emphasis to information systems to manage clinical data for acute perioperative care.  In the mid-1990s he initiated a co-development effort with a software company to create a perioperative information management system to be used for patient care, education, and clinical outcomes research.  This co-development partner was purchased by General Electric in 2001 and today the University of Michigan’s Department of Anesthesiology is the development site for General Electric’s perioperative software.  To date the Department of Anesthesiology’s perioperative patient database is one of the largest in the world and has resulted in a series of academic publications determining patients at risk for adverse outcomes.  These data are now being used to try to reduce the incidence of these outcomes by adjusting the perioperative care.  Starting in 2008 the department initiated a nationwide/worldwide perioperative outcomes database consortium, the Multicenter Perioperative Outcomes Group (MPOG). The department developed software which enables data from anesthesiology information management systems (AIMS) from multiple vendors to be downloaded into a common relational research database.  This organization allows data sharing from multiple institutions throughout the United States, in Europe and Israel.  Having this broad database involving all surgical procedures from a variety of institutions have enabled retrospective database queries on a grand scale for the first time.  Currently there are 35 institutions in this data sharing research consortium. 

Also starting in 2008, Dr. Tremper initiated work on the development of a new generation monitoring and alerting interface: AlertWatch®.  This readily identifiable, organ icon-based alerting system derives data from physiologic monitors, AIMS, history & physicals, and laboratory values simultaneously updated every 10 seconds.  The icons of the heart and lungs move in real-time and are color coded to designate normal, marginal, and abnormal values.  Organ icons are outlined in orange to signify co-morbidities associated with that organ.  This alerting system, which has been developed for intraoperative use, is also being developed for critical care and emergency department use.  Dr. Tremper is the Past President of the Society of Academic Anesthesiology Chairs, the Morton Society, and the Association of University Anesthesiologists.