In the 1970s, Rich Kallet was a respiratory therapy student in upstate New York when a seminal paper in anesthesiology and respiratory care was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study described in the paper had been conducted by UCSF faculty at the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) and San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (SFGH).
Rich was captivated. At 25, he decided to move to San Francisco to get involved with research at SFGH. In 1981, he began his work with Respiratory Care Services, and soon after began volunteering as a research assistant for mechanical ventilation studies.
“It was the generous support and mentorship of faculty from CVRI and the Departments of Anesthesia and Surgery that helped foster my career in clinical research,” said Rich. “To be a contributing member of that ‘professional family’ and its legacy has been at the core of my adult life.”
According to Rich, “legacy” conveys all of the reasons he has chosen to spend his career at UCSF. Twenty-five years after reading the influential study that sparked his interest in respiration and anesthesiology research, he co-authored another landmark paper that appeared in the same journal on the role of carbon dioxide excretion in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This study demonstrated that carbon dioxide excretion is the most powerful pulmonary-specific variable mortality predictor in ARDS. His work influenced many other researchers and led to further strides in the field.
“It was beyond my wildest imagination that being inspired by reading a paper almost 40 years ago would have such a profound impact on my career,” Rich said. He is now the Director of Quality Assurance for Respiratory Care Services in the Department of Anesthesia & Perioperative Care, based at SFGH.
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