Research Opportunities

Surgery

Cardiothoracic Surgery

Mentor: Jeff Jones, Ph.D.

Research Interests: My laboratory studies extracellular matrix remodeling, the cell-types involved, and the signaling, both biochemical and mechanical, that regulates these processes in pathological conditions such as thoracic aortic aneurysm and heart failure.

Mentor: Rupak Mukherjee, PhD.

Research Interests: Dr. Mukherjee’s research effort is focused on the structural and electrogenic aspects of cardiac disease progression as these events relate to remodeling of cardiac chambers.  In addition, Dr. Mukherjee is interested in determining the mechanisms through which light may affect wound healing and translate these studies into clinical applications.

Mentor: Robert Sade, M.D.

Research Interests:  I have interest in research ethics and specific interests in surgical ethics and transplant ethics. I have worked with undergraduates and residents on projects in ethics research, and these have often resulted in publications in the surgical or the ethics literature.

Colorectal Surgery 

Mentor: Thomas Curran, M.D. MPH and Virgilio George, M.D.

Research Interests: The section of colon and rectal surgery have an active interest in comparative effectiveness and health outcomes colorectal surgical research on a local/institutional, regional and national level.  While we have engaged with research topics across the full breadth of colon and rectal surgery, we have a particular interest in identifying best practices in the management of diverticulitis and inflammatory bowel disease.  Observational data such as that obtained through the National Surgical Quality Improvement Project (NSQIP) or the South Carolina Surgical Quality Collaborative (SC SQC) is particularly well suited to address clinical questions in these areas.  As a part of crafting a relevant research question and executing a feasible study, we hope that residents will gain valuable skills in the areas of study design, statistical analysis and abstract/manuscript preparation.  We absolutely welcome participation from any resident interested in colon and rectal surgery or clinical outcomes research.

Endocrine/Surgical Oncology 

Mentor: Mahsa Javid, M.D. Ph.D. 

Research Interests: The basic science focus is on identifying and characterizing the role of angiogenic factors in thyroid cancer and differentiating which factors are associated with a clinically aggressive phenotype. This will include investigating particular factors that have been shown to be important in other cancers and validating their role in promoting tumor growth in thyroid cancer. There are currently two basic science projects available for participation. The clinical research will focus on endocrine tumor etiology and surgical outcomes including the role of environmental factors affecting thyroid cancer incidence and aggressiveness and a regional study on the optimization of parathyroidectomy in uremic hyperparathyroid patients. 

Mentor: Denise Carneiro-Pla, M.D.

Research Interests: We do research in thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal. There are several project to be develop by the candidates. This is for clinical research in endocrine surgery. We also have existing databases to help with the studies.

GI Surgery 

Mentor: Hongjun Wang, Ph.D. 

Research Interests: Dr. Hongjun Wang's lab focuses on bench to bedside translational research related to the treatment of type 1 diabetes and chronic pancreatitis. The research spans from basic science studies to clinical trials aimed to understand the mechanism as well as the clinical application of various therapeutic approaches including cell therapy and others. The interdisciplinary research team members include scientists, physicians, surgeons, clinical trial coordinators, students and technicians.

Pediatric Surgery 

Mentor: Laura Hollinger, M.D.

Research Interests: My research focus is centered on patients with CDH (Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia) and also pediatric patients who require ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) support for a variety of reasons. I work with the Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Study Group, an international organization of physicians devoted to research dedicated to improving the quality of care and of life of survivors of CDH. The CDHSG maintains an international registry of >10,000 patients with CDH, of which MUSC is now a contributing member. My work with the pediatric ECMO program is centered around quality of care of patients, center outcomes measures, and provider educational initiatives.  

Mentor: Aaron Lesher, M.D. 

Research Interest: The focus of our research is centered around measuring outcomes in pediatric surgery disease as well as developing novel telemedicine pathways to improve access to high quality pediatric surgery care. We have a number of ongoing research initiatives, including projects in inguinal hernia repair, pediatric burn treatment, telemedicine, NEC, gastrostomy, and adolescent bariatric surgery. 

Mentor: Christian Streck, M.D. 

Research Interests: The focus of my research is centered around improving the quality of care for pediatric trauma patients. We have a number of ongoing research initiatives, including projects in imaging for blunt abdominal trauma, massive transfusion practices, trauma triage, PTSD following trauma and intimate partner violence. In addition, I am involved in a pectus excavatum study, a study on high powered magnets and collaborate with my partners on a review of laparoscopic inguinal hernia outcomes.

Regenerative Medicine

Mentor: Michael Yost, Ph.D. 

Research Interest: The Yost lab specializes in the biomedical implants, biomaterials, tissue engineering and 3D printing and visualization.  

Surgical Oncology 

Mentor: Andrea Abbott, M.D.

Research Interest: There is a new opportunity for a Certificate in Clinical Research: This opportunity will be available on a merit basis to a resident who is interested in clinical outcomes and clinical trials research. The certificate is earned through the College of Medicine and involves online courses in biostatistics, epidemiology, grant writing, etc. The online courses can be taken over one to two years and will count as credit toward a Masters in Clinical Research if the resident desires. Upon completion of the certificate program the resident will have 17 credit hours and will have the foundation to develop clinical research questions, functioning knowledge of how to calculate statistics within a research framework, and will have established connections with outcomes researchers within MUSC. -- I will serve as the overall research mentor for this project but will facilitate additional research relationships based upon the residents' interests. -- The number of residents who will be offered this opportunity is not predetermined and again will be chosen on merit of application. --Any resident interested in this opportunity should contact abbottan@musc.edu

Mentor: Ramsay Camp, M.D. 

Research Interest: I lead a translational oncology research program with two areas of interest that both focus on using cancer patient tissue samples to explore tumor biology.  In colorectal cancer (CRC), we have developed a unique mouse xenograft model derived from patient tumor samples (PDX) to explore mechanisms of therapy resistance.  Our lab was recently awarded VA Merit funding to evaluate inhibition of Sphingosine kinase 2 to overcome radiation resistance.  We have also created a novel humanized cancer model (i-PDX) using both patient blood and tumor samples.  For CRC and pancreatic cancer, we are using these models to investigate the tumor immune microenvironment and strategies to enhance cytotoxic T cell function. - From a clinical research perspective, my team is interested in studying measures of response to neoadjuvant therapy in pancreatic cancer exploring both clinical, pathologic, and cellular tumor features altered by therapy. 

Mentor: Nancy DeMore, M.D. 

Research Interest: My research focuses on tumor angiogenesis and immunotherapy. We have discovered novel targets for cancer, elucidated molecular mechanism, and developed novel therapeutics.  

Mentor: Shikhar Mehrotra, Ph.D. 

Research Interest: Dr. Mehrotra’s research group has focused on understanding T cell biology for immunotherapy of cancer. In order to generate tumor reactive T cells that can persist longer, and lead to control of tumor growth, his group is testing several strategies. They previously described a novel strategy to demarcate effector T cells based on cell surface thiol (c-SH) expression into c-SHhi and c-SHlo T cells. They showed high anti-oxidant property is central to potent anti-tumor effector T cells, and directly correlates to CD62Lhi central memory, low glycolytic and low mitochondrial membrane potential phenotype, all of which may be linked and contribute to better tumor control. His group has also shown that p53 regulates T cell glycolysis and altering p53 levels in T cells could be exploited to control tumor growth. More recently, his group has shown that targeting non-canonical ectonucleotidase CD38 on T cells could lead to a potent and long-term control of tumor mediated by anti-tumor T cells. His group is also working to combine strategies where targeting kinases with checkpoint blockade could enhance effectiveness of ACT. A recent study from his group showed that a combination of PIM kinase inhibitor administered along with anti-PD1 and ACT leads to a robust tumor control. https://medicine.musc.edu/departments/surgery/research/surgical-oncology-research/shikhar-mehrotra

Mentor: Mark Rubinstein, Ph.D. 

Research Interest: The Rubinstein laboratory is focused on understanding mechanisms of lymphocyte biology and developing novel immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and human disease.  This research focus includes use of cytokines to augment immune checkpoint therapy and adoptive cell therapies.   In addition to  basic research projects focused on understanding lymphocyte biology, there are several clinical projects in the laboratory including (1) the first-in-human combination of an IL-2Rbg agonist (a lymphocyte growth factor) and anti-PD-1 mAb therapy, with phase II trial ongoing, in partnership with Dr. John Wrangle (Medicine), (2) assessment of NSCLC surgically resected tumor samples using advanced immunological techniques, a collaborative effort including Dr. Barry Gibney (Surgery) and Dr. Chad Denlinger (Surgery), (3) the development of immunotherapy stratagies for pancreatic cancer, a collaborative effort including Dr. Ramsay Camp (Surgery), and (4) development of immunological techniques to promote long-term organ transplant acceptance. 

Transplant

Mentor: Satish Nadig, M.D., Ph.D. and Carl Atkinson, Ph.D. 

Research Interest: The focus of our research is centered around developing novel technologies and therapies to promote organ tolerance in transplantation. We span all organs (i.e. heart, lung, abdominal organs, and vascular composite tissues) and all phases of transplant from donor organ pretreatment strategies to post implantation therapeutics. Our goal is to obviate the need for immunosuppression with novel therapies including nanotherapeutic approaches, complement inhibition, and cellular therapies.

Mentor: Dave Taber, PharmD

Research Interest: I am trained in health services research and epidemiology.  My research interests include medication safety, health care disparities and outcomes research as it pertains to secondary analyses of large-scale datasets, epidemiologic research and clinical trials.   I am open to mentoring resident(s) on outcomes research project(s) in any of these areas.

Mentor: Vinayak Rohan, M.D. 

Research Interest: Vascular access analysis

Trauma, Acute Care Surgery

Mentor: Evert Eriksson, M.D. 

Research Interest:  The focus of my research is centered around clinical outcomes and innovation.  My primary areas of research include: traumatic brain injury, rib fractures, flail chest, surgical rib fixation, advanced ventilatory modes, venous thromboembolic disease, and pregnant trauma patients.  We participate in investigator initiated projects as well as international multi-center studies.  In addition, we are actively involved in innovation efforts at MUSC and following the outcomes of these projects.  Recent innovation projects that have been implemented include: Resuscitative balloon occlusion of the aorta for trauma and placenta accrete, surgical rib fixation, regional anesthesia for rib fractures, botox for abdominal wall reconstruction, and 3D printing for visualization.

Mentor: Heather Evans, M.D., MS

Research Interest:  The focus of my research program is surgical infections including intra-abdominal infections, soft-tissue infections and healthcare associated infections. For the past 5 years, I have focused on leveraging patient generated health data to improve our detection, monitoring and reporting of surgical site infection (SSI). With funding from the CDC, I am producing a health technology assessment of the current mobile health apps used for this purpose and in the next year, I will be planning a multicenter pragmatic trial of different apps for post-operative post-discharge wound assessment. In my projects, I use both traditional quantitative analysis for clinical outcomes and patient reported outcomes, but I am also very interested in implementation science, qualitative assessment and stakeholder engagement. As a new faculty member, I am very much like the new residents, uncovering what data and collaborators are available at MUSC, and I welcome any resident to join me in this period of discovery and building.

Mentor: Cindy Talley, M.D. 

Research Interest: Surgical Education Research includes studying not only how we teach, but how students learn, the best environment, and trainee characteristics which can impact learning.   We study curriculum development, new ways of assessing knowledge, and evaluating the impact of national standards.  Currently, I have been looking at operative experience including case log practices and am building a longitudinal leadership curriculum.  

Vascular Surgery 

Mentor: Thomas Brothers, M.D. 

Research Interest:  My clinically-oriented research is primarily focused on lower extremity arterial disease, especially dealing with clinical decision making tools and predictive modeling, in an effort to maximum patient quality of life. Analysis is performed based on review of local patients as well as utilizing national patient databases.

Mentor: Jean Marie Ruddy, M.D. 

Research Interest: My translational research in the Cardiovascular Research Lab is focused on defining the biomechanical link between hypertension and abdominal aortic aneurysm disease with an emphasis on vascular smooth muscle cell signaling and aortic inflammation. I also mentor surgery residents and medical students in clinical research based on their individual interests with a focus on project structure, data analysis, and writing.