Over 234 million surgical operations are performed worldwide each year. General anesthetics have dramatically reduced human suffering, but the mechanisms of action of these drugs remain poorly understood. The hippocampus (memory centre in the brain) shelters a population of inhibitory receptors that underlie the memory-blocking properties. GABA (i.e., g-aminobutyric acid) receptors are the most abundant and widely distributed within the central nervous system of mammals. Therefore, these receptors play pivotal roles in virtually all brain functions including memory. Up- and down-regulating the activity of these receptors impairs and improves memory function, respectively. Dr Orser's research aims to understand how anesthetics regulate key inhibitory receptors in the brain. Post-anaesthetic memory loss represents an undesirable and poorly understood adverse effect. Such memory issues after surgery may lead to reduced quality of life, increased admissions to long-term care facilities, premature retirement and death. Modulating the activity of GABA receptors before, during, and/or after the surgery may help patients avoid memory issues, and reduce secondary heath care costs due to general anesthesia.