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Research

UM Department of Surgery Continues to Lead Through Surgical Innovation

University of Maryland’s Department of Surgery faculty are actively involved in more than 60 research projects and clinical trials to develop novel therapies for their patients. This research is funded by numerous individuals, private corporations, foundations and federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense and spans all of the Department’s divisions.

Watch Grateful Patient, Judi Azevedo Sgambato's Story >>

 

Here are a few examples of how today’s research is transforming medicine:

Research at the Center for Vascular and Inflammatory Diseases, under the direction of Dudley K. Strickland Ph.D., Professor of Surgery, focuses on integrating molecular and cell biology with applied and clinical sciences specifically in the areas of biochemistry, vascular biology, immunology, cancer biology, hematopoiesis, stem cell biology and cardiology. Inflammation is emerging as a key contributor to many vascular diseases and further, plays a major role in autoimmune diseases, arthritis, allergic reactions, and cancer.

Our surgeon-scientists are dedicated to the treatment of acute and chronic end stage lung disease which currently accounts for 125,000 deaths per year in the United States. Dr. Bartley Griffith’s team is developing the first wearable, biocompatible artificial pump-lung device, which will serve as a bridge to transplant or healing through other therapies. Dr. Robin Pierson’s lab is internationally recognized for xenotransplantation research with the goal of expanding the supply of transplantable lungs.

The challenges of organ transplantation are also being studied by Dr. John LaMattina’s team within the Division of Transplant Surgery, who are exploring the use of donated human livers, deemed unsuitable for transplantation, as scaffolds on which to engraft healthy cells. The decellularized scaffold provides a suitable matrix to promote the growth and differentiation of these liver cells into a bioartificial organ suitable for transplantation.

surgery group in scrubs 

One of the most prominent achievements resulted from Dr. Stephen Bartlett’s and Dr. Rolf Barth’s research in vascularized composite allotransplantation. This ground-breaking approach allows the replacement of skin, muscle and bone tissues to restore both form and function to massive injuries resulting from burns or trauma. In 2012, a team of University of Maryland surgeons performed a high-profile face transplant which included the engraftment of multiple types of tissues. The success of this surgery is the culmination of laboratory research efforts sponsored by the Department of Defense.

Dr. Jian-Ying Wang’s research program has been continuously funded by multiple NIH grants and VA Merit-Review grants for more than 20 years. Dr. Wang's current work is highly focused on the regulation of gut epithelial renewal and barrier function. Dr. Wang's research projects are directly relevant to patients with trauma, hemorrhage, and massive surgical operations.

Dr. Sunjay Kaushal and research team are exploring novel ways to treat serious heart problems in children. Recently the first direct comparison of the regenerative abilities of neonatal and adult-derived human cardiac stem cells was conducted. Among the findings: cardiac stem cells (CSCs) from newborns have a three-fold ability to restore heart function to nearly normal levels compared with adult CSCs. Further, in animal models of heart attack, hearts treated with neonatal stem cells pumped stronger than those given adult cells.

To learn more about surgical research activity, please contact Emily Welty, Research Administrator at 410-706-8155 or ewelty@smail.umaryland.edu.