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General Surgery Research Laboratory

The Department of General Surgery is actively engaged in performing high quality basic research that applies scientific method to provide a greater understanding and insight of the physiology and pathophysiology of a range of human disease states. These goals are achieved through physicians and scientists working in close collaboration. In addition to the Department’s research endeavors in fields as diverse as cancer biology, cancer immunology, trauma and sepsis and acute renal failure, the Department is actively engaged in the teaching and training of physicians and scientists throughout the different stages of their career development.

Mission Statement: To identify clinically relevant disease problems that can be investigated in the laboratory using appropriate translational models of the disease state.

Group Members

I. Cancer Biology

Iain McKillop, PhD, Group Director for Research

Eugene Sokolov, PhD, Senior Postdoctoral Fellow. Dr. Sokolov’s work focuses on the role of proteins termed Regulators of G-protein Signaling within the context of HCC. The central aims of these studies are to better understand changes in the expression and function of RGS proteins between the normal and diseased liver and how these changes affect the rate at which HCC progresses.

Srikanth Padma, MD, HBP Fellow. As a fellow, Dr. Padma is actively engaged in basic and translational research projects before commencing his clinical training year. Dr. Padma’s research area is studying the expression and localization of aquaporin water channels in healthy, diseased and tumorigenic liver samples in the setting of the human disease state as a means to better understand the multiple stages of cell transformation and tumor progression.

M. Adrian Mattocks, BS, Predoctoral Graduate Student. Mr. Mattocks’ research utilizes in vitro and in vivo models of HCC development to understand the cellular and molecular processes that regulate the expression and function of aquaporin water channels in normal and transformed hepatic cells. Mr. Mattocks has an anticipated graduation date of September 2009 for his PhD thesis to be awarded from UNC-Charlotte.

Elizabeth Warner, BS, Predoctoral Graduate Student. Ms. Warner’s research is to study the effects and mechanisms of action whereby chronic alcohol consumption alters the rate of HCC progression. These studies are to be performed in the absence and presence of naturally occurring, plant-derived antioxidants and use both in vitro and translational in vivo models of HCC. Warner has an anticipated graduation date of May 2010 for her PhD thesis to be awarded from UNC-Charlotte.

Alan Smeltz, Undergraduate Honors student. Mr. Smeltz is an undergraduate Honors student in the Department of Biology at UNC at Charlotte. As part of the honors program, Mr. Smeltz is performing research in the area of aquaporin protein expression and localization in human hepatic disease. Mr. Smeltz plans to graduate with a BS degree with honors in Summer 2008.

Andrew Sugg, Undergraduate Honors student. Mr. Sugg is an undergraduate Honors student in the Department of Biology at UNC-Charlotte. As part of the honors program, Mr. Sugg is using in vitro cell culture models of HCC progression to help identify the molecular mechanisms whereby plant-derived antioxidants act to inhibit alcohol induced changes in signaling pathways previously identified to be important during hepatic tumorigenesis.

II. Surgical Oncology

Jonathan Salo, MD, Group Director for Surgical Oncology Research

Perla Nunes, BS, Research Laboratory Technician. Ms. Nunes works for Dr. Salo in performing the detailed cell and molecular biology analysis required to study cancer immune responses. These studies utilize a combination of in vitro approaches and translational in vivo models of cancer development and progression.

III. Trauma and Surgical Critical Care

Toan Huynh, MD, Group Director for Trauma and Surgical Critical Care Research

Steve Keller BS, RN, Research Laboratory Technician. Mr. Keller works for Dr. Huynh in establishing and maintaining the complex translational research models and detailed intravital microscopy techniques employed in Dr. Huynh’s ongoing research projects.
 
Mark Clemens, PhD, Department of Biology, UNC-Charlotte. Dr. Clemens is an expert in the fields of hepatic blood flow and clinically relevant models of shock-trauma and assists Dr. Huynh in the development of models of shock from which changes in hepatic circulation can be measured using intravital microscopy.

Min Shin, PhD, Department of Computer Sciences, UNC-Charlotte. Dr. Shin is an expert in the development and implementation of computer analysis and data modeling in biological systems. Dr. Shin is involved in developing novel computer software specifically designed to analyze physiological blood flow measurements obtained using intravital microscopy.

IV. Hepato-biliary and Pancreatic Surgery

David Iannitti, MD, Chief, Hepato-biliary and Pancreatic Surgery

Srikanth Padma MD, HBP Fellow. As a fellow, Dr. Padma is actively engaged in basic and translational research projects before commencing his clinical training year. Dr. Padma’s research area is studying the expression and localization of aquaporin water channels in healthy, diseased and tumorigenic liver samples in the setting of the human disease state as a means to better understand the multiple stages of cell transformation and tumor progression.

Jessica Heath, BS, Research Laboratory Technician. Ms. Heath works for Dr. Iannitti in establishing large animal models with which to develop and characterize microwave ablation techniques and assists in the development and analysis of samples generated using these models.

V. Division of Gastrointestinal and Minimally Invasive Surgery

B. Todd Heniford, MD, Chief, Division of Gastrointestinal and Minimally Invasive Surgery; Co- Director, Carolinas Laparoscopic and Advanced Surgery Program; Director, Carolinas Hernia Medical Center
Amy Lincourt, PhD, Senior Scientist, Director of Research Operations, Division of Gastrointestinal and Minimally Invasive Surgery
Jennifer E. Keller, MD, Research Fellow
Charles James Dolce, MD, Minimally Invasive Surgery Fellow
Kenneth Christian Walters, MD, General Surgery Research Resident

VI. Acute Renal Failure Research

Susan Evans, MD, Principal Investigator, Acute Renal Failure Research

James Tumlin, MD, South East Renal Associates. Dr. Tumlin is a clinical nephrologist working with Southeast Renal Associates with basic science research interests in identifying and analyzing the expression of potential markers of acute renal failure. Dr. Tumlin and Dr. Evans work closely in the development of this project and identifying patients for inclusion in this study.

Jarrod Meadows, BS, Southeast Renal Associates. Mr. Meadows performs the hands on experimental analysis of serum and urine obtained from patients enrolled in the current series of studies and, works with Dr Evans in the collection and analysis of data generated from these studies.

Senait Testafi, BS. Ms. Testafi performs protein analysis in urine pellets collected from patients enrolled in the current study for potential markers that may be of use in identifying ARF in at risk patient populations. 

Contact Information

Cancer Biology: Iain McKillop, PhD

Surgical Oncology: Jonathan Salo, MD

Trauma and Surgical Critical Care: Toan Huynh, MD

Hepato-biliary and Pancreatic Surgery: David Iannitti, MD

Division of Gastrointestinal and Minimally Invasive Surgery: B. Todd Heniford, MD; Amy Lincourt, PhD

Acute Renal Failure Research: Susan Evans, MD

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