By Ken Adelman
Q & A with Dr. Zena Quezado
"Every day, patients tell me they feel genuine pain and suffering," says National Institutes of Health anesthesia specialist Dr. Zena Quezado. "Whether it's psychosomatic or physiologically traceable, I can't tell. But it's true to those for whom it counts most—the patients."
As chief of the department of anesthesia and surgical services at NIH's Clinical Center, Dr. Quezado is proud of advances in pain management.
"We've developed a variety of new drugs and techniques that we use to treat pain. But the best thing that's happened in pain management over the past decade is the attention it's gotten. That's long overdue."
Quezado, 45, was born in Patos, a small city in northeastern Brazil, and grew up in Fortaleza, near the equator. Her father was a civil engineer, and her mother stayed at home with five children.
Quezado received her medical degree from the Federal University of Ceará in her hometown. She moved to the United States in 1986 to intern at Philadelphia's Albert Einstein Medical Center. She stayed there for her residency before moving to NIH's Critical Care Medicine Department in 1990.
She has been an anesthesiologist at Harvard Medical School and Shriners Hospital in Boston and has taught at Harvard and George Washington University medical schools. In 2004 Quezado won an NIH award for excellence in patient care; the next year she won the Director's Award for dedication to the Clinical Center's mission and her leadership of anesthesia services.
Quezado commutes by bicycle between her home near DC's Dupont Circle and the Bethesda campus of NIH. In her office, we discussed what she's learned.