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Research Areas

Researchers in the general surgery and vascular labs are asking (and answering) some fundamental questions about how the immune system responds to cell damage. Why do some people get multiple organ failure after trauma, while others recover without complication? Why do vascular grafts fail? How does inflammation in cells and tissues of major organs affect immune responses? Can we predict how well individual patients will recover from surgery and trauma?

Cell damage occurs in many situations, such as following surgery or surgical procedures, after trauma (including bone fractures) or during infection. Limiting harmful inflammation may help patients to recover from injury more quickly, and with fewer complications. Listed below is an overview of some of the research currently being performed in our labs.


Hemorrhagic shock, hypoxia and trauma

Lipid peroxidation in liver after hemorrhagic shockResearch in this area aims to understand how cells, tissues and organs deal with the consequences of decreased perfusion and hypoxia, as well as physical cell and tissue damage. Our researchers perform pioneering work investigating damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), DAMP-activated immune responses that occur through pattern recognition receptors like Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and NOD-like receptors (NLRs), and how immune responses to hemorrhage and trauma are subsequently regulated. Learn more on these lab research pages: Billiar lab, Vodovotz lab, Zuckerbraun lab, Tsung lab, Fan lab, Rosengart lab, Scott lab.


Sepsis and Surgical Infection

Sepsis is still a major problem in critically ill patients, and can result in cell and tissue damage leading to multiple organ failure. Researchers in our labs are trying to further understand how the immune system regulates responses to pathogens, and how tissue and organ damage occurs. Understanding the mechanisms involved in causing cell damage will help to define new ways to prevent and treat organ failure in our patients. Read more on these lab pages: Billiar lab, Fan lab, Rosengart lab, Vodovotz lab, Zuckerbraun lab, Scott lab.


Vascular Injury and Healing

Researchers in the Division of Vascular Surgery are focused on translational research studies identifying the mechanisms involved in vascular injury and healing. This includes the use of small molecules, such as carbon dioxide and nitric oxide to prevent and treat intimal hyperplasia, a common cause of late vascular graft failure. The goal is to find new therapies to treat vascular pathologies that include wide-ranging diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and wound healing, and to do this we need an improved understanding of the cellular mechanisms involved in vascular injury and regeneration. Learn more about current projects on these lab research pages: Bauer lab, Chen lab, Sachdev lab, Tzeng lab.


Nitric Oxide in Inflammation and Cell Death

Nitric oxide (NO) is a small molecule that is involved in many inflammatory signaling pathways, as well as protective pathways in cells. Researchers in both the Divisions of General and Vascular Surgery are interested in identifying the cellular mechanisms that regulate both the protective and harmful effects of NO and nitric oxide synthase (NOS). Read more about NO research in these lab research pages: Billiar lab, Chen lab, Tzeng lab, Zuckerbraun lab.


Systems Biology of Inflammation

Inflammation and the mechanisms behind innate immune activation are necessarily complex and cannot be understood by analysis of single pathways or single cell types. Systems biology approaches allow integration of the multiple events taking place in an organism during inflammation, injury and infection to allow us to gain insight into the defining events that may be modulated to improve patient outcome. Read more about ongoing projects involving mathematical modeling and systems biology approaches on the Vodovotz lab research page.