Published January 4, 2022
Oscar A. de Leon-Casasola, MD, professor of anesthesiology, has been selected to receive the 2021 John J. Bonica Award from the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA Pain Medicine).
The honor recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding contributions to the development, teaching and practice of pain medicine in the tradition of John J. Bonica, MD, the pioneering physician regarded as the “founding father of pain relief medicine.”
Director of the pain management anesthesiology fellowship program at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, de Leon-Casasola is also senior vice chair of the Department of Anesthesiology. He is chief of the Division of Pain Medicine and Symptom Management and is a professor of oncology at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
In recommending de Leon-Casasola for the award, David A. Provenzano, MD, ASRA Pain Medicine’s president-elect, wrote that he is “an advocate for multidisciplinary collaboration in the evaluation and treatment of patients with pain. Furthermore, he provided extensive amounts of leadership and volunteer time to ASRA Pain Medicine.”
“I was deeply inspired and humbled when I heard of my selection to receive this prestigious honor,” de Leon-Casasola says, adding that he is “profoundly indebted” to the Selection Committee and ASRA Pain Medicine board.
He also credited Mark J. Lema, MD, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and chair of anesthesiology, and his co-workers “for creating the environment that allowed me to develop the work for which I am being recognized.”
“I remain committed to working to improve the quality of life of the patient in pain — and to applying Dr. Bonica’s education principles to the new generation of pain physicians that I currently train,” deLeon-Casasola says.
A prolific writer, de Leon-Casasola has published more than 100 articles in major medical journals and has authored or co-authored chapters in 36 books. He has received editorial appointments from 17 publications and editorial boards.
He earned his medical degree in 1982 from the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, Guatemala City, Guatemala. His postdoctoral training from 1980 to 1990 comprised internship and residency in general surgery, anesthesiology, critical care and pain medicine at various universities, both in Guatemala and the United States.
He is board certified in anesthesiology, critical care and pain medicine.
Bonica was a professor and chairman emeritus of the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, at the time of this death in 1994.
He championed the collaboration of specialists from multiple disciplines in the evaluation and treatment of patients with pain. He wrote the first book devoted to pain management, mentored clinicians and colleagues, and started the International Association for the Study of Pain.
Nominees for this award embody the ideals of John Bonica and his passion for pain medicine as manifested through their contributions by way of research, teaching and clinical practice.