August 8, 2008
Zapol appointed to U.S. Arctic Research Commission

zapolA select group of individuals are appointed to the U.S. Arctic Research Commission by the President of the United States. Distinguished members represent academic and research institutions, private industry with commercial activities in the Arctic and the area's indigenous residents. On July 25, President Bush announced the appointment of three new members of the commission, including MGH emeritus Anesthetist-in-Chief Warren M. Zapol, MD (left). Zapol joins the commission to serve a four-year term. 

Under the Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984, the commission is charged with establishing national Arctic research policies, priorities and goals, promoting Arctic research and working with the National Science Foundation to support cooperation on Arctic research throughout the federal government and with other nations. Research in Arctic regions has become a hot topic as the world experiences the effects of global warming. With 25 percent of the world's undiscovered gas and oil in the Arctic, the commission reviews and recommends research on mineral resources, drilling, global warming, and environmental and ecosystem changes and their effects on the health of human and animal groups native to the region.

According to U.S. Arctic Research Commission Chair Mead Treadwell, the addition of Zapol and the other two members to the team will "provide us with the breadth of expertise necessary to effectively tackle the full range of challenges adherent to these goals and objectives ... We look forward to their contributions."

From 1994 to 2008, Zapol served as chief of the MGH Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester School of Medicine, his major research efforts include studies of acute respiratory failure in animals and humans. In 2003, he was awarded the Intellectual Property Owners Association's Inventor of the Year Award for his work in the treatment of hypoxic human newborns with inhaled nitric oxide, a lifesaving technique that he pioneered with his MGH team.

Supported by the National Science Foundation, Zapol has led nine Antarctic expeditions to study the diving mechanisms and adaptations of the Weddell seal. Through that research the team learned how marine mammals avoid the bends and hypoxia (low blood oxygen levels) based on blood nitrogen and oxygen measurements in free-diving seals. Zapol served as a member of the Polar Research Board of the National Academies from 2003 to 2006 and is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. 

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