Research Opportunities

Surgery

Mentors and Active Projects 

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

Division: Transplant

Research Interests:  The focus of our research is centered around developing novel technologies and therapies to promote organ tolerance in transplantation. We span allorgans (i.e. heart, lung, abdominal organs, and vascular composite tissues)and all phases of transplant from donor organ pre treatment 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.

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Mentor: Michael Yost, Ph.D. 

Division: Regenerative Medicine

Research Interests: The Yost lab specializes in the biomedical implants, biomaterials, tissueengineering and 3D printing and visualization.

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Mentor: Heather Evans, M.D. MS

Division: Trauma, Acute Care Surgery

Research Interests: 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.

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Evert A Eriksson, MD, FACS, FCCP

Division: General, Trauma, and Acute Care Surgery

Research Interests:  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.

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Mentor: Nancy DeMore, M.D.

Division: Surgical Oncology

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

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Mentor: Shikhar Mehrotra, Ph.D.

Division: Surgical Oncology

Research Website Link 

Research Interests: 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.

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Mentor: Andrea Abbott, M.D.

Division: Surgical Oncology

Research Interests:  I am interested in clinical research with a focus on breast cancer patients and melanoma. My primary interest is in patient perceptions and how that impacts treatment decision-making. I am currently working on projects involving database research, clinical trial development for melanoma, and surgeon wellness. Residents and students interested in being involved would be able to contribute to many aspects that could include: IRB submission, literature review, project design, chart review, data analysis, clinical trial design, grant writing, etc.

Certificate in Clinical Research: There is a new opportunity for a Certificate in Clinical Research, 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

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Mentor: Ramsay Camp, M.D.

Division: Surgical Oncology

Research Interests: 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.

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Mentor: Thomas Brothers, M.D.

Division: Vascular

Research Interests: 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.

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Mentor: Vinyak Rohan, M.D.

Division: Transplant

Research Interests: Vascular access analysis

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Mentor: Dave Taber, Pharm.D.

Division: Transplant

Research Interests: I am open to mentoring resident(s) on outcomes research project(s).  I have a keen interest in assessing racial disparities in peri-operative outcomes, regardless of the type of surgery.  If a resident is interested in health disparities outcomes research, I would be happy to mentor them in that topic.

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Mentor: Hongjun Wang, Ph.D. 

Division:GI Surgery

Research Interests: The Wang lab performs NIH-funded basic science research and clinical trials, using mesenchymal stem cells, Alpha-1 antitrypsin, and other methods, for the treatments of type 1 diabetes and chronic pancreatitis. 

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

Division: Colorectal 

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.

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Jean Marie Ruddy, M.D. 

Division: Vascular

Research Interests: We are 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.

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Mentor: Jeff Jones, Ph.D.

Division: Cardiothoracic

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.

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Mentor: Mahsa Javid, M.D.,  Ph.D.

Division:Endocrine / Surgical Oncology

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.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. 

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Mentor: Mark Rubinstein, Ph.D.

Division: Cancer Immunology

Rubinstein Lab website

Research Interests: 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, 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), and (3) the development of adoptive cell therapy for pancreatic cancer, a collaborative effort including Dr. Ramsay Camp (Surgery).

Our research group would consider involving students interested in observing and participating in cancer immunotherapy research. Students will be asked to undergo a vigorous literature review, participate in ongoing research activities related to immune checkpoint therapy and adoptive cellular therapy, and present to our interdisciplinary group bridging basic science and clinical oncology.