Current Faculty Mentors

Dr. Andrew Adams

Andrew B. Adams, MD, PhD
–Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Transplantation, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine

As a member of the Emory Transplant Immunology Lab, Dr. Adams' research is focused on the development of novel strategies to promote transplantation tolerance, with the interplay between viral infection, immune memory, and the alloimmune response being a particular focus. He is also interested in studying the impact of novel T cell subsets on the rejection process by defining their unique costimulatory requirements and trafficking pattern.

Dr. Luke Brewster

Luke P. Brewster, MD, PhD, MA, RVT
– Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Vascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– Institute of Bioengineering and Biosciences, Georgia Institute of Technology
– Staff Scientist, Yerkes National Primate Research Center

Dr. Brewster's translational research laboratory trains interested investigators in cardiovascular research projects that bridge pathophysiology and regenerative medicine. Current research investigates the role of altered flow on vessel remodeling and the regenerative potential of ischemic limbs, including pharmaceutical, biomaterial, and device design approaches to improving cardiovascular health. Deliberate layering of clinical tissue and large and small animal models are used to test promising in vitro data. Current collaborations exist with colleagues at Emory, Georgia Institute of Technology, and other outside universities.

Dr. Grant Carlson

Grant W. Carlson, MD
– Wadley R. Glenn Professor of Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine (Dr. Carlson has dual appointments in the divisions of plastic surgery and surgical oncology)
Chief, Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory

Dr. Carlson's studies have afforded significant improvement in the outcome of breast reconstruction for patients with breast cancer, particularly his refinement of skin sparing mastectomy in the early years of the procedure. He continues to analyze various aspects of breast reconstruction, such as infection in implant-based breast reconstruction and sensation after nipple-sparing mastectomy.

Dr. Matthew Clifton

Matthew S. Clifton, MD
– Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Emory
– Program Director, Pediatric Surgery Residency, Division of Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory

Dr. Clifton has interests in surgical oncology, complex hepatobiliary surgery, and clinical outcomes research. He is the surgeon representative to the Childhood Liver Disease and Research Education Network (ChiLDREN), the surgeon of record for a study evaluating the infusion of liver cell suspension in children with urea cycle disorders, and co-PI of a study of MRI guided laparoscopic pull-through for imperforate anus.

Dr. Craig Coopersmith

Craig M. Coopersmith, MD
– Professor of Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– Associate Director, Emory Critical Care Center, Emory University School of Medicine
– Vice Chair of Research, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– Director, Surgical/Transplant Intensive Care Unit, Emory University Hospital

Dr. Coopersmith is one of the top investigators of sepsis and shock in the country. In 2013, he was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, an organization that requires its members to have an outstanding record of scholarly achievement in biomedical research. He is also immediate past president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, the world's largest multi-professional ICU organization. His current research activity includes an NIH T32 training grant and four NIH R01 grants, three of which are collaborative studies with Emory transplant immunologist Dr. Mandy Ford (see below). The studies with Dr. Ford are investigating the interplay between cancer and sepsis, the impact of chronic alcohol abuse on the pathophysiology of sepsis, and the roots of the systemic immune dysregulation that switches on the immune suppression that is a major contributor to sepsis-induced mortality.

Dr. Mandy Ford

Mandy L. Ford, PhD
– Associate Professor, Division of Transplantation, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– Scientific Director, Emory Transplant Center

Dr. Ford is a leading researcher in the study of the cellular mechanisms of T cell responses in transplantation and immunosuppression, and her work is funded by various federal, foundation, and industry grant awards. She was a vital member of the Emory research team led by current Emory School of Medicine Dean Dr. Christian Larsen and Dr. Thomas Pearson that helped develop belatacept as a successful new class of immunosuppressant. In addition to the grants noted above with Dr. Coopersmith, Dr. Ford's current portfolio includes two R01s, several private foundation grants, and the Emory Transplant Center's T32 training grant.

Dr. Theresa Gillespie

Theresa W. Gillespie, PhD
– (Primary) Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– (Joint) Associate Professor, Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Emory University School of Medicine
– (Secondary) Clinical Associate, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University

Dr. Gillespie's research involves multiple cancer types, encompassing clinical, health services, and population-based investigations. Her breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer studies have been funded by multiple NIH institutes, AHRQ, CDC, American Cancer Society, Department of Defense, and the Avon and Movember foundations, and have focused on informed decision-making, measurement of quality and guideline concordant care, cancer disparities, risk communications, and the intersection of technology, patient comprehension, and outcomes. She conducts research using VA, NSQIP, SEER, Medicare, and other national datasets, and serves as the institutional lead for oncology health services research using the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) files for pancreatic, non-small cell lung cancer, esophageal, breast, gastric, melanoma, and prostate cancers. Dr. Gillespie is also funded by the Gates Foundation for a global web-based tool, the Global Health Primer, which provides education and information on research and development for neglected diseases and such non-communicable diseases as cancer in low- and middle-income countries.

Dr. Michael Halkos

Michael E. Halkos, MD, MSc
– Associate Professor of Surgery and Chief, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– Scientific Director, Cardiothoracic Surgery Center for Clinical Research (CCR), Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– Associate Program Director, Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency, Emory

Dr. Halkos is a leader in the field of robotic coronary artery bypass and hybrid coronary revascularization (HCR), and has developed the HCR program at Emory into one of the busiest in the country. He is the scientific director of the Cardiothoracic Center for Clinical Research (CCR), which conducts clinical and translational research and develops and investigates new methods and technologies in cardiothoracic surgery to inform evidence-based practice. His current projects including an NHLBI-funded K23 grant to evaluate operative strategies to reduce the incidence of postoperative stroke after coronary artery bypass surgery, and a study evaluating hybrid coronary revascularization for patients with multivessel coronary disease..

Dr. Shishir Maithel

Shishir K. Maithel, MD
– Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine

Dr. Maithel's research program is based on clinical and translational investigation and outcomes analyses of GI and hepatopancreatobiliary tumors. Uncovering molecular biomarkers that could have prognostic and predictive value in the treatment of GI malignancy is a particular concern. Collaborators include Emory medical oncologists, pathologists, and the core labs in genetics and biostatistics.

Dr. Muralidhar Padala

Muralidhar Padala, PhD
– Assistant Professor, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– Director, Structural Heart Disease Research and Innovation Lab, Cardiothoracic Research Lab, Emory

A bioengineer by training, Dr. Padala directs the Structural Heart Disease Research and Innovation Lab, which undertakes both clinical and basic science research of heart valve disease and therapies as a target to decelerate heart failure. In 2014, he received the highly competitive American Heart Association’s National Scientist Development Grant to study the impact of mitral valve leakage on structural remodeling of the left heart towards failure to develop new biomaterials to tweak and halt this remodeling process. His long-term vision of establishing a pipeline from the lab to clinical practice is empowered by his work with researchers from different scientific and engineering fields and active collaborations with other Emory cardiothoracic clinical surgeon scientists.

Dr. Rachel Patzer

Rachel E. Patzer, PhD, MPH
– (Primary Appointment) Assistant Professor, Division of Transplantation, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– (Joint Appointment) Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory

Dr. Patzer is a health services researcher whose primary investigations focus on variation in access and outcomes of kidney transplantation. She has additional research interests in healthcare quality, mobile health technology, community based participatory research, and health outcomes. The results of her work are often published in such high-profile journals as Transplantation, American Journal of Transplantation, American Journal of Kidney Diseases, and Liver Transplantation. In 2013, she led the team that developed Emory University's free iCHOOSE Kidney iPad application, which provides an individualized comparison of mortality risk estimates for patients on dialysis vs. living or deceased donor kidney transplantation.

Dr. Ravi Rajani

Ravi Rajani, MD
– Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Vascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– Director, Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Grady Memorial Hospital

Dr. Rajani and his colleagues are engaged in multiple, ongoing clinical research projects involving aortic transection in the trauma population, including the refinement of stent graft design to improve outcomes for victims of blunt thoracic aortic injury (BTAI). Some projects include device design. In 2013 at Grady Memorial Hospital, Dr. Rajani enrolled and treated the first patient in the FDA-approved, prospective, multicenter, nonrandomized TRANSFIX study for BTAI. The national study is assessing the safety and effectiveness of the Zenith® TX2® Low Profile Endovascular Graft in the treatment of patients with BTAI.

Dr. Mehul Raval

Mehul V. Raval, MD, MS
– Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine

Dr. Raval's research interests include improving outcomes in children's surgical care, limiting costs, improving patient safety, retrospective data review, long-term quality of life improvement assessments, regional collaborative quality improvement efforts, and quality measure indicator development. During his postgraduate training years, Dr. Raval served as a clinical scholar in residence at the Division of Research and Optimal Patient Care of the American College of Surgeons and was involved with a variety of projects and initiatives.

Dr. Matthew Santore

Matthew T. Santore, MD
– Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine

While doing his general surgery residency at the University of Pennsylvania from 2005-2012, Dr. Santore studied in utero stem cell transplantation in Dr. Alan Flake's lab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as a research fellow. He plans on conducting studies of pediatric minimally invasive surgical techniques, quality improvement and outcomes in surgical services, and quality improvement in pediatric trauma.

Dr. Jyotirmay Sharma

Joe Sharma, MD
– Assistant Professor of General and Endocrine Surgery, Division of General and GI Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– National Surgical Quality Improvement Project Champion, Emory University Hospital

Dr. Sharma chairs the Wound Infection Group (WIG), which is dedicated to reducing surgical site infection (SSIs) at Emory hospitals. The multidisciplinary program collects outcomes data, feeds it into the ACS NSQIP database, and extracts areas from the results that need improvement. Through its various initiatives, one of which was was the "Come Clean: Stop Surgical Infections Before They Start" iPad app for patients, WIG has lowered the incidence of SSIs at Emory hospitals. Dr. Sharma also works closely with Dr. John Sweeney (see below) on quality improvement projects throughout the Department of Surgery.

Dr. Patrick Sullivan

Patrick S. Sullivan, MD
– Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– Chief Quality Officer, Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, Emory

Dr. Sullivan is focusing on the surgical outcomes of patients who were prescribed preoperative opiates prior to colorectal procedures. By analyzing these patients' post operative courses, including hospital length of stay, any complications, time to first bowel movement, etc., he intends to document differences in the rates of these various stages/events between these patients and those who did not take preoperative opiates.

Dr. John Sweeney

John F. Sweeney, MD
– Joseph Brown Whitehead Professor and Chair, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– Chief of Surgery, Emory Healthcare
– Director, Surgical Services, Emory Healthcare
– Surgeon-in-Chief, Emory Healthcare

Dr. Sweeney leads the Department of Surgery's quality outcomes team. Studies span a range of surgical disciplines including general, thoracic, vascular, plastic, and hepatobiliary surgery, and published results have emphasized health services, risk-factors, cost variation, and care value. Topics of past publications include analyses of independent factors associated with surgical readmissions in general surgery, the effect of operative duration on post-op pulmonary complications in colectomies, and cost variability in video assisted thoracic surgery. Dr. Sweeney is also conducting studies that are concerned with reducing costs and hospital readmissions by increasing physicians' effectiveness in identifying the optimal time to discharge patients.

Dr. Nicole Turgeon

Nicole A. Turgeon, MD
– Associate Professor of Surgery, Division of Transplantation, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– Director, Clinical Islet Transplant Program, Emory Transplant Center
– Director, Extramural Studies, General Surgery Residency, Department of Surgery, Emory University

Dr. Turgeon's research interests include clinical islet cell transplantation, behavioral determinants of organ donation and utilization, humoral rejection, and safety and efficacy of bariatric surgery in end stage renal disease patients. In 2011, Dr. Turgeon initiated a protocol with Dr. Kevin Kim, an Emory interventional radiologist, that performed a minimally-invasive islet transplant solution for patients with unstable type 1 diabetes. The next year, she guided Emory's participation in the National Kidney Registry to quickly and efficiently find living donor matches for Emory kidney patients on the transplant waiting list. In 2013, Dr. Turgeon participated in the second largest kidney swap in the world.

Dr. Lily Yang

Lily Yang, MD, PhD
– (Primary Appointment) Professor of Surgery and Nancy Panoz Chair of Surgery in Cancer Research, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
– (Secondary Appointment) Associate Professor, Department of Radiology, Emory University School of Medicine

Dr. Yang is one of the Department's most well-funded researchers. Her lab is involved with the development of multifunctional nanoparticles for targeted and image-guided cancer therapy, novel targeted multi-modality imaging probes for cancer detection and image-guided surgery, targeted nanoparticle drug delivery approaches that overcome tumor stroma barrier and improve therapeutic effects, and theranostic nanoparticles targeting drug resistant tumor cells for effective cancer therapy.

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