Research Sabbatical Laboratories

Research image

There are eight primary laboratory experiences available to Emory general surgery residents for research sabbaticals: Cardiothoracic Research Lab, Critical Care Labs, Pediatric Surgery Labs, Quality Outcomes Lab, Surgical Oncology Research Labs, Transplant Immunology Lab, Vascular Surgery Labs, and King's College Hospital in London.

Cardiothoracic Research Laboratory

Directed by Dr. Robert Guyton, the Cardiothoracic Research Laboratory conducts basic and translational research in cardiac surgery, cardiothoracic diseases and treatment; trains basic science and clinical investigators in cardiothoracic research and therapeutics; and develops innovative strategies and devices to treat cardiothoracic diseases. Recent studies have included protection of the heart during cardiac surgical procedures, cytoprotective actions of the gasotransmitters nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide, and development of polymeric materials to control local cardiac mechanics.

Critical Care Labs

The basic science focus of Emory's critical care labs is gut integrity and the immunological host response in sepsis, with special attention to the settings of cancer or alcohol abuse. The labs are directed by Dr. Craig Coopersmith, interim director of the Emory Critical Care Center and vice chair of research for the Emory Department of Surgery. Dr. Coopersmith has several active grants, including two NIH R01 collaborations with transplant immunology researcher Dr. Mandy Ford, scientific director of the Emory Transplant Center, that are investigating aspects of the immunological host response in sepsis.

Pediatric Surgery Labs

Research efforts in pediatric surgery involve the development of innovative surgical techniques and improving the quality and outcomes of pediatric surgical care. Ongoing, funded trials include investigations of novel techniques for medically refractory gastroesophageal reflux and MRI-guided endorectal pull-through for imperforate anus.

As members of one of the busiest pediatric surgical groups in the nation, Emory pediatric surgery faculty participate in numerous multi-institutional clinical research collaborations, including the Necrotizing Enterocolitis Surgery Trial (NEST), non-operative management of liver and spleen injury (ATOMAC), Hirschsprung's Disease Research Collaborative, and a prospective, multi-center study aimed at developing a clinical prediction model to determine the children that can safely avoid abdominal CT scanning during the initial evaluation of blunt abdominal trauma.

Quality Outcomes Lab

The quality outcomes team, led by Department of Surgery Chair Dr. John Sweeney and general and GI surgeon Dr. Joe Sharma, reports patient outcomes and conducts quality improvement projects for the Emory Department of Surgery. 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 analyes 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.

Surgical Oncology Research Labs

Dr. Shishir Maithel oversees a clinical research experience that focuses on clinical and translational investigation and outcomes analyses of GI and hepatopancreatobiliary tumors, with the ultimate goal of designing and conducting prospective trials that aim to further the field of personalized cancer care. 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. Lily Yang conducts multidisciplinary research programs in both basic and translational oncology. Her investigations encompass the identification of novel molecular targets and signal transduction pathways that confer apoptosis resistance in human cancer cells; observation of the mechanisms of aggressive tumor biology in breast cancer stem cells; and the development of novel nanoparticles with a combined diagnostic and therapeutic capability for targeted tumor imaging and therapy of breast, pancreatic, and head and neck cancer.

Transplant Immunology Lab

The Transplant Immunology Lab is investigating the immunologic mechanisms of transplant rejection and tolerance with the hope of achieving rejection-free transplant survival without the need for continuous drug therapy. Multi-disciplinary programs specific to kidney, pancreas, heart, liver, lung, bone marrow, composite tissue, and xenotransplantation are ongoing.

Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy Labs

The basic science and translational work in the vascular surgery labs involves the characterization of biomechanical, cellular signaling, and extracellular matrix differences between stiffened and healthy vessels, while the clinical research program is focused on studies of cutting-edge technology and evaluations of the safety and efficacy of new procedures for the treatment of arterial and venous disease.

King's College Hospital in London

Laboratory Option

PhD candidates or post docs focused on building an academic career in surgery are the ideal applicants for the laboratory experience at King's College Hospital in London (KCH).

KCH Mentor:

Professor Steven Sacks
– Professor of Nephrology
– Head of the Department of Nephrology & Transplantation
– Director, Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Transplantation

Professor Sacks directs an established protein therapeutics lab and is an international authority on complement biology. His lab generates numerous complement inhibitory biologics that Prof. Sacks is interested in translating to the clinic. In addition to having significant potential in transplant indications, Prof. Sacks' therapeutics could also be suited to post-angioplasty/endarterectomy vascular remodeling and post-ischemic reperfusion injury. Prof. Sacks' research setting would be an ideal environment for a candidate interested in vascular surgery. He leads the Medical Research Council Centre for Transplantation (KCH's equivalent of the Emory Transplant Center), and is an excellent contact for additional laboratory opportunities at KCH.

Notable Opportunities:

Professor Robert Lechler: Fundamental T cell immunobiology with specific interests in regulation.

Professor Randy Noelle: Fundamental costimulation blockade biology, particularly in therapeutic approaches to inhibiting the CD40:CD154 pathway.

Professor Anthony Dorling: Fundamental approaches to ischemia and reperfusion injury and vascular response to inflammation.

Duration: One-to-three years, encompassing pursuit of a PhD at KCH or a joint degree between Emory and KCH.

Funding: Emory

Hepatobiliary Option

Surgical residents or fellows with an interest in hepatobiliary surgery and/or transplantation are appropriate candidates for this experience.

KCH Mentors:

Professor Nigel Heaton
– Director, Hepatobiliary Unit, King's College Hospital

Professor Alberto Sanchez-Fueyo
– Head of Liver Sciences, Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Transplantation

The general contact is Professor Heaton, who directs the busiest hepatobiliary surgery group in Europe. Professor Sanchez-Fueyo, an internationally recognized hepatologist known for his contributions to liver transplant tolerance and HCV biology, is the scientific contact.

Opportunites: This sabbatical will be a blend of clinical and research activities, characterized by assisting Prof. Sanchez-Fueyo in his lab and performing major hepatic resections, Whipples, liver transplants, etc., on Prof. Heaton's service.

Duration: Approximately one year

Funding: KCH

Inquiries and Application

Interested candidates should contact Dr. Craig Coopersmith or Dr. Nicole Turgeon.

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