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Research


History

Old RedThe Department of Surgery at the University of Texas Medical Branch has a rich history as the first Department of Surgery in Texas. The Institution and Department have been a fertile ground for developing academic surgical leaders since the turn of the century. Educating and training surgeons of the future continues to be the core focus of the Department. In doing so, there is a focus on striving for scientific excellence and novel investigation to advance the science of surgery. In 2013, The Department of Surgery ranked 1st in Texas and 33rd nationally in NIH funding among Surgery Departments highlighting the quality of work being performed by members of the Department. The Department also has two T32 training grants designed to provide surgical trainees with a protected opportunity to be exposed to a research experience during their training. Our research efforts also focus on surgical education where the recently completed Sealy & Smith Laboratory for Surgical Training, Assessment & Research (LSTAR) has allowed us to expand our academic focus on optimizing learning experiences for surgical trainees and faculty.

Residents

Resident ResearchThe surgical research programs are extensive and productive and cover a wide range of research areas. The faculty is encouraged to participate in national scholastic activities and serves on numerous editorial boards of peer-reviewed journals and NIH study sections. Grant support of research programs is provided by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the Moody Foundation, the Sealy & Smith Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, Shriners Hospitals for Children, and various commercial entities. The department supports more than many laboratories occupying more than 14,500 square feet. Faculty members are committed to acquiring new knowledge, and residents are encouraged to participate in both clinical and laboratory research. Some of the major research projects include gastrointestinal endocrinology, metabolism, head injury, spinal injury, heart preservation, transplantation and immunology, and burn injuries. The Department of Surgery offers approved residency training programs in general surgery, neurosurgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, plastic surgery, urology, and vascular surgery.

Simulation-based training is now a component of all five years of general surgery residency. Interns participate in a "Boot Camp" program of simulation center workshops on basic surgical skills from suturing/knot-tying to chest tubes and ultrasound-guided central venous catheter placement. These sessions are taught by faculty and senior residents. All residents complete the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) curriculum prior to performing laparoscopic cases. Twice-monthly workshops in the Simulation Center cover a range of topics from vascular and GI anastomoses to advanced laparoscopic and robotic procedures. Simulation is also used to teach and assess core competencies such as communication, professionalism and systems-based practice. The Simulation Center is home to a variety of specialized curricula, educational research projects and quality improvement efforts.

The Department of Surgery has two NIH-funded T32 training grants. For more information, please follow the links below.

Research in Gastrointestinal Diseases Training Grant

Shriners Hospitals for Children Training Grant

Medical Students

Student ResearchMany Department of Surgery faculty have opportunities for medical students to participate in established research projects. Below you will find a variety of research projects our faculty members are conducting, grouped by the amount of time a student has available -- from a few hours a week to a focused research elective. For more information please contact the faculty member.



Research Elective

Wet Lab
Dr. Linda Phillips - Plastics
Dr. Celia Chao - SURU 4027; GI research - 8-12 weeks
Dr. Ella Englander - inhalation injury
Dr. Craig Porter - metabolic response to burns
Dr. Ravi Radhakrishnan - pediatric liver fibrosis/burns
Dr Linda Sousse - burns/sepsis, inflammatory response

Chart Review/Clinical Research
Dr. Linda Phillips - Plastics
Dr. Ravi Radhakrishnan - pediatric liver fibrosis/burns
Dr Linda Sousse - burns/sepsis, inflammatory response

Educational Research
Dr. Kimberly Brown - simulation lab


Honor in Research Senior Elective

Wet Lab
Dr. Linda Phillips - Plastics
Dr. Ravi Radhakrishnan - pediatric liver fibrosis/burns

Chart Review/Clinical Research
Dr. Linda Phillips - Plastics
Dr. Ravi Radhakrishnan - pediatric liver fibrosis/burns


Honor in Research Senior Elective

Wet Lab
Dr. Linda Phillips - Plastics

Chart Review/Clinical Research
Dr. Linda Phillips - Plastics


MSSRP

Wet Lab
Dr. Linda Phillips - Plastics
Dr. Ella Englander - inhalation injury
Dr. Craig Porter - metabolic response to burns

Chart Review/Clinical Research
Dr. Linda Phillips - Plastics

Educational Research
Dr. Kimberly Brown - simulation lab


5-10 Hours/Week

Wet Lab
Dr. Linda Phillips - Plastics
Dr. Ella Englander - inhalation injury
Dr. Craig Porter - metabolic response to burns
Dr. Ravi Radhakrishnan - pediatric liver fibrosis/burns
Dr Linda Sousse - burns/sepsis, inflammatory response

Chart Review/Clinical Research
Dr. Linda Phillips - Plastics
Dr. Ravi Radhakrishnan - pediatric liver fibrosis/burns
Dr Linda Sousse - burns/sepsis, inflammatory response

Educational Research
Dr. Kimberly Brown - simulation lab


2-5 Hours/Week

Wet Lab
Dr. Linda Phillips - Plastics
Dr. Ella Englander - inhalation injury
Dr. Craig Porter - metabolic response to burns
Dr. Ravi Radhakrishnan - pediatric liver fibrosis/burns
Dr Linda Sousse - burns/sepsis, inflammatory response

Chart Review/Clinical Research
Dr. Linda Phillips - Plastics
Dr. Ravi Radhakrishnan - pediatric liver fibrosis/burns
Dr Linda Sousse - burns/sepsis, inflammatory response

Educational Research
Dr. Kimberly Brown - simulation lab



Facilities

Old RedResearch is an integral and vitally important activity in the Department of Surgery. There is a full spectrum of research activities in the department that include an array of both clinical and basic science studies. Although research time is not mandatory, the majority of our residents choose to spend one to two years in the laboratory to further hone their investigative skills in preparation for academic careers or highly competitive fellowships. In addition to our own house staff, surgeons-in-training from the United States and abroad have taken advantage of the unique research activities in the department. The residents in the laboratory are highly productive and, in fact, routinely present their work at prestigious national meetings such as the Society of University Surgeons, the American Surgical Association and the Surgical Forum. An important component to the success of this program is the fact that all of the research laboratories are directed by surgical faculty who provide clinically relevant perspectives to the research as well as valuable mentorship to the surgical house staff. The Division of General Surgery offers unique opportunities to investigate various aspects of gut physiology and endocrinology, surgical oncology, burns and trauma, and transplantation. The research laboratories and the studies that are currently being performed follow.

Surgical GI Physiology and Endocrinology Laboratory
Facilities are available for preparation of large- and small-animal surgery, development of in vitro models, and cell culture. Some of the ongoing studies include: regulation of gut gene hormone expression, mechanisms of intestinal mucosal homeostasis, pancreatic repair after pancreatitis, the effect of various gut hormones on growth of the normal GI tract during early development, aging and after injury, the interaction of GI and calcium regulating hormones, and mechanisms of apoptosis in the GI tract.

Surgical Oncology Laboratory
Facilities are available for tissue culture of a large repertoire of human and animal GI tumors. In addition, a nude mouse facility is available, with a large number of colon, pancreatic, gastric, and endocrine tumors that have been established from fresh operative specimens. Some of the ongoing studies include the effect of gut hormones on tumor growth, detection and quantification of hormone receptors, tumor immunology, gene therapy approaches utilizing antisense technology, and signal transduction mechanisms involved in hormone-mediated cancer growth.

Receptor Laboratory
Facilities and equipment are available for receptor analysis and examination of specific intracellular signal transduction pathways. Some of the ongoing studies include: detection and quantification of hormone receptors on human and animal tumors and normal tissues, production of monoclonal antibodies to hormone receptors and polyclonal antibodies to complementary peptides and receptors, intracellular signal transduction mechanisms of action of peptide hormones, and peptide receptor characterization. In addition, the laboratory is equipped with a state-of-the-art quantitative fluorescence imaging system for the measurement of intracellular calcium and a microinjection apparatus that can deliver various reagents into single cells. This equipment, which is present in only a limited number of laboratories across the country, has broadened the scope and overall capabilities of our laboratory.

Molecular Biology Laboratory
A fully equipped and recently renovated molecular biology laboratory provides the necessary facilities and equipment to perform clinically relevant studies at the molecular level. Some of the ongoing studies include: molecular analysis of intracellular mechanisms that regulate normal and malignant gut growth, cellular factors involved in transcriptional regulation, identification of mutations in various oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes in GI cancers, and early molecular changes that occur in the gut and liver after systemic injury. Some of the techniques commonly utilized include: Northern, Southern and Western blots, RNase protection, gel mobility shift assays, DNase I footprinting, transient and stable transfections, in situ hybridization, gene cloning, and immunoprecipitation. In addition, we are using gene array techniques to assess gene expression patterns in normal tissues and cancers.

Pediatric Surgical Laboratory
Facilities are available for animal and cellular studies. Ongoing studies include: relationships between GI hormones and intestinal function, the immunologic development of the gut, biochemical markers for intestinal ischemia in the neonate, peritonitis and shock in neonatal animals, and tracheal reconstruction in experimental animals.

Transplantation/Immunology Laboratory
Facilities are available for large- and small-animal transplantation as well as tissue culture. Some of the ongoing studies include: immune mechanisms of rejection, ultraviolet radiation of donor tissue and its effect on stimulator cells, differentiation of acute rejection from cyclosporine toxicity, and mechanisms for deleting passenger leukocytes.

Burn and Metabolism Laboratories at the Shriners Hospitals for Children
The facilities and equipment are available for large- and small-animal research and tissue culture. In addition, a fully-equipped metabolism laboratory is available for clinical and basic research. Some of the ongoing studies include: tissue culture growth of skin, mechanisms of wound healing, chemical mediators of the systemic response to burn injury, mechanisms of immune deficiency after injury, pathophysiology of inhalation injury, and stable isotope tracer studies of human metabolism and other stresses.

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