Newswise — Robert T. Dirksen, PhD, Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at University of Rochester Medical Center has been newly appointed to Chair the Professional Advisory Council (PAC) of the Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States (MHAUS).

“I am pleased to announce that Dr. Robert Dirksen, Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at University of Rochester, has been appointed as Chair to the Professional Advisory Council (PAC) of the Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States (MHAUS), says MHAUS President Henry Rosenberg, MD.

Dr. Dirksen is an outstanding scientist who has focused much of his scientific efforts on understanding the underlying defects in skeletal muscle in patients with Malignant Hyperthermia, Myotonic Dystrophy and Central Core Disease among others. His particular focus has been on understanding the control Calcium movements in muscle and the relation of Calcium movements to abnormal muscle function. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Muscular Dystrophy Association among others. He has published over 80 articles in leading scientific journals in addition to many abstracts, book chapters, and invited lectures.

As Chair of the Professional Advisory Council, Bob will work closely with the President, Executive Director, and Board of MHAUS to assess strengths/opportunities for the PAC; assign specific topics or documents requested for review to the PAC; synthesize PAC comments; keep the Board of Directors updated on research which has the potential to enhance MHAUS’ mission; advise on parameters for PAC membership and terms of service on the PAC; and be a member of the organizing committee for future scientific conferences.

About the Professional Advisory Council of MHAUSThe Professional Advisory Council (PAC) of the Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States (MHAUS) are healthcare professionals from throughout the world who are expert in Malignant Hyperthermia and together approve and generate all content published by MHAUS.

What is Malignant HyperthermiaMalignant Hyperthermia (MH) is inherited genetic disorder found in an estimated 1 out of 2,000 people and triggered by certain anesthetics and/or the drug succinylcholine and most often experienced in individuals undergoing routine surgery but in rare cases MH can happen without anesthesia. The disorder is due to abnormally increased levels of cell calcium in the skeletal muscle. Symptoms include body temperature of up to 107 degrees, muscle rigidity, system-wide organ failure, and possible death.

There is mounting evidence that some patients will also develop MH with exercise and/or on exposure to hot environments. Without proper and prompt treatment with dantrolene sodium, mortality is extremely high.

About the Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States (MHAUS)MHAUS was founded families who lost their children to MH or could not find information about MH. In 1981 they found each other - and a doctor performing MH testing – and agreed “to make current information about MH available to all who need it!”

Since 1981 MHAUS has asked fostered the following: the World Health Organization (WHO) to add MH to its list of recognized diseases and disorders. In 1983 the first MHAUS healthcare professional and patient teaching conference. In 1992 the FDA ordered pharmaceutical companies that manufacture succinylcholine to change the package insert to indicate that the drug should not be used routinely in children. In 1995 the MH 24-hour Hotline was formalized and MHAUS merged with the North American MH Registry, which had been established in 1987. In 1997 the MHAUS website was formed along with the Neuroleptic Malignant Information Service of MHAUS. In 1998 the MH ID Tag program was created. In 2000 the MH Procedure Manual was created for ambulatory surgery centers, hospitals, and office based surgery suites. In 2001 the MH Patient Liaison Committee was formed. In 2003 a new mutation in ryanodine receptor gene was discovered and appears to be causal for MH. More at:

Today MHAUS provides information and resources to medical and lay communities through conferences, educational materials, ID tags, 24-hour MH Hotline, MHAUS website, and with the help of MH chapter groups.

The mission of Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States is to promote optimum care and scientific understanding of MH and related disorders. MH episodes can happen at any time and MHAUS will always be ready to provide assistance when you need it. But the best way protect your family and patients is to be prepared before it’s too late. Get Involved with MHAUS today to find out how.

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