Written By: Rita Agarwal MD, Chandra Ramamoorthy MD, and James Fehr MD
It is with a heavy heart that we share the untimely death of our dear friend and colleague Lisa Wise-Faberowski MD, MS. Lisa was a faculty member in the Department of Anesthesiology, Division of Pediatric Anesthesiology at Stanford University School of Medicine. She was a dedicated clinical pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist, scientific researcher, gentle, kind teacher, and mentor.
After a residency in pediatrics, pediatric critical care and anesthesiology, Lisa made pediatric cardiac anesthesia and critical care her calling. Her bench to bedside investigation into the effects of anesthesia on the developing brain won her several prestigious awards and honors. She was the recipient of more than several awards including the John J. Downes Award and the young investigator award from both the Society of Neuro-Anesthesia-Critical Care and the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia. In addition to other departmental awards, Lisa had a scientist development award from the American Heart Association. Additionally, Lisa had several grants to support her research on neuronal apoptosis in animals and children with heart disease.
Dr. Wise-Faberowski’s career took her from Duke University to the University of Florida in Gainesville, to the Children’s Hospital in Denver, University of Colorado. I (RA) had the opportunity to get to know Lisa well both professionally and personally and admired her greatly. In 2010, Lisa was recruited to join the pediatric cardiac division at Stanford University where she continued her laboratory studies on neuroapotosis in the developing brain. At Stanford, Lisa went on to obtain a Masters in Health research and outcomes. Lisa could explain findings of her research to the uninitiated in an easily understandable manner and break down really complex issues into clear and easy to follow concepts. She was a patient teacher and allowed her trainees autonomy.
Lisa was involved with several national societies including the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia, the Congenital Cardiac Anesthesia Society (CCAS), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Association of University Anesthesiologists (AUA). She was on the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine (AAP SOA), and was on the Education Planning Committee for the upcoming SPA/AAP Annual Pediatric Anesthesiology Meeting in Tampa, Florida. She was the Chair of the AUA Communication Committee and a member of the Executive Council. Lisa served on the SPA Education and Communications Committee and several ASA Committees. She has spoken nationally and internationally on a variety of topics primarily related to neuroanesthesia, neurotoxicity, and congenital cardiac anesthesia.
While Lisa appeared fragile, as if a strong wind would blow her away, beneath lay a tenacious, stoic, and strong- willed individual. Lisa was soft spoken, unfailingly gentle and kind to her trainees and laboratory assistants and was inclusive of them in her publications, of which she has many. She was a mentor and role model to multiple aspiring physicians, trainees, faculty, and clinician scientists. All who knew her recall her gentle demeanor and unfailing kindness. We have had messages from several of her trainees and colleagues expressing surprise and sadness at her untimely demise.
In reviewing her CV, I (CR) was awestruck on how much Lisa had accomplished both academically and outside of work. I have not met many individuals who could push themselves as much as Lisa did. Despite a busy clinical and research career, Lisa found time to be the team captain of her children’s basketball team, team manager of soccer teams, be a foster parent to animals and, periodically, Lisa would send me (CR) a picture of her latest fluffy friend.
Dr. Lisa Wise-Faberowski was a compassionate and dedicated physician caring for some of the sickest children. She was an amazing woman, a devoted wife, and a mother of four. She was brave in her long fight against breast cancer but never allowed her illness to define her. She will be missed by her family and many friends at Stanford and elsewhere. We mourn her untimely loss.