Newswise — SAN DIEGO – The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) today presented Daniel J. Cole, M.D., FASA, with its 2020 Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his long, highly distinguished career as a physician anesthesiologist and steadfast advocate of ASA members, deeply dedicated to promoting the science and research of the specialty and protecting the safety of the patients they serve. The award is the highest honor ASA bestows and is presented annually to a member who has transformed the specialty of anesthesiology.

Dr. Cole is professor of clinical anesthesiology and vice chair for the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is also the executive director for professional affairs of the American Board of Anesthesiology and a director of the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Dr. Cole served as ASA’s president from 2015-16, where he made many valuable contributions within the Society and specialty. Notably, he started a new patient safety initiative — the Perioperative Brain Health Initiative — to engage a multidisciplinary group to work with providers, payers and the public to create a low-barrier access program to minimize the impact of preexisting cognitive deficits, and optimize the cognitive recovery and perioperative experience for adults 65 years and older undergoing surgery. He has also been pivotal in ASA’s efforts to maintain physician-led anesthesia care in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 

An ASA member since 1982, Dr. Cole has held numerous positions and served on many ASA committees, task forces and work groups. He has served as chair of ASA’s Publications Committee, the Committee on Annual Meeting Oversight, and a member of the Board Review Committee on Professional Affairs.

Dr. Cole received the 2019 Distinguished Educator in Anesthesiology Award from ASA and the Society for Education in Anesthesia, and the 2020 Distinguished Service Award from the California Society of Anesthesiologists. He is a past president of the California Society of Anesthesiologists and the Society for Neuroscience in Anesthesiology and Critical Care. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research and is currently president of the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation.

Dr. Cole’s research contributions have been far reaching, publishing more than 350 original manuscripts, chapters, abstracts and editorials, and serving as a reviewer for more than 25 medical journals. He is also a distinguished lecturer, delivering more than 300 invited presentations on a broad range of topics.

“Dr. Cole’s dedication to increase awareness of postoperative delirium, the most common surgical complication for older adults, by launching the Perioperative Brain Health Initiative is unparalleled,” said ASA President Beverly K. Philip, M.D., FACA, FASA. “Because of his efforts and the initiative, practical steps have been identified that can be taken before, during and after surgery to reduce patients’ risk of developing the condition, and related problems, that have long-term implications for brain health.”

Dr. Cole received his undergraduate degree from Andrews University in Michigan. He received his medical degree and completed his anesthesiology residency at Loma Linda University in California. Dr. Cole completed his fellowship in neuroanesthesia research at the University of California at San Diego. He is board-certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology.

The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor ASA bestows. It is presented annually for outstanding clinical, educational or scientific achievement, contribution to the specialty and/or exemplary service to the Society. ASA’s House of Delegates establishes policies governing the selection of a recipient for the Distinguished Service Award.



Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 54,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves. 

For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit Join the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2021 social conversation today. Like ASA on Facebook, follow ASALifeline on Twitter and use the hashtag #ANES21.

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Meeting Link: ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2021 annual meeting