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Researcher | Research Overview

Recipient of NIH Developmental Research Award (R21): 2023-2025
Project Title: Impact of Prolonged Perioperative Sedation on Infant Brain

Prolonged sedation treatment is currently considered standard practice in the safe and compassionate care of critically ill neonates and infants despite leading to opioid tolerance and a high incidence (35-57%) of physical dependence. There is a fundamental gap in our knowledge regarding (i) underlying mechanisms and (ii) long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes in selected group of infants born with esophageal atresia that undergo life-saving treatment with prolonged sedation. The study will employ structural MRI techniques (AIM 1) and neurodevelopmental assessment (AIM 2) in selected term-born and premature infants with short-gap (brief pain/sedation treatment) and long-gap esophageal atresia (prolonged sedation treatment).This study aligns with the goals of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to improve the lives of children throughout all stages of development.

Recipient of NIH Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K08): 2013-2018
Project Title: Immediate and Delayed Effects of Morphine on Brain Circuits: Animal - Human Correlation

Opioids are considered standard of care and used for management of acute pain, as well as for sedation of children of all ages. Our understanding of sequelae associated with prolonged opioid treatment on developing brain are limited. The is unique aspect of this project is in its translational effort to define the impact of prolonged morphine exposure in the rats of different ages using neuroimaging, behavioral, and immunohistochemical techniques (AIM 1), as well as in children of different ages using neuroimaging (AIM 2). Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in both rats and children will allow a translational systems level investigation of prolonged morphine administration and its long-term effects. Dr. Bajic holds an academic title of Associated Professor of Anaesthesia at the Harvard Medical School since 2000.

Researcher | Research Background

Dr. Bajic received her MD from the Medical School of the University of Belgrade, Serbia and PhD from the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, IL. Her postdoctoral training included: (1) Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, (2) Anesthesia Residency training at Yale New Haven Hospital, Yale University, as well as (3) Pediatric Anesthesia Fellowship at Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard University where she now works as board certified staff anesthesiologist since 2008.

Researcher | Publications