General surgery residents’ research years: recent projects

Dr. Juan Danobeitia works with lab members in the Luis Fernandez lab. Dr. Danobeitia participated in the Transplant Research Training Program during his research years. 

Between their second and third years in residency, general surgery residents may choose to dedicate an additional two years to research. Our research opportunities span basic, translational, health services/outcomes, biomedical engineering, and surgical education research. During their research years, residents work with a faculty mentor and receive training in experimental design, manuscript writing, grant writing, biostatistics, and other research skills. Below, we introduce a few of our residents who recently completed their research years.

Trainee: Juan Danobeitia, MD
Mentor: Luis Fernandez, MD
Training Period: July 2016 – January 2018

During his time working with the Transplant Research Training Program, Dr. Danobeitia has been involved in advancing our knowledge of tissue injury in the peri-transplant period and in improving organ preservation techniques. He was tasked with the development of a preservation protocol that incorporated normothermic perfusion as the platform of tissue protection. Ultimately, the goal of this research is to discover superior methods of organ preservation. The American Society of Transplant Surgeons awarded Dr. Danobeitia the Resident Scientist Scholarship for his work, “Macrophage Differentiation in the Progression to Delayed Graft Function and the Regulation of Adaptive Immunity and Fibrosis after Renal Transplantation.”

Trainee: Alexander Fisher, MD, MS
Mentor: Sharon Weber, MD (primary) and Daniel Abbott, MD
Training Period: July 2016 – June 2018

Dr. Fisher spent two years with the Surgical Oncology Training Program, working on a clinical intervention that involves a telephone-based surgical transitional care protocol (sC-TraC) for patients undergoing complex abdominal surgery. In 2017, the Annals of Surgery published Dr. Fisher’s review and analysis of sC-TraC. Dr. Fisher worked with Dr. Weber on four projects involving pancreatic cancer using the National Cancer Data Base. Dr. Fisher gave presentations on all four of these projects at national meetings, and two manuscripts have been submitted for peer review, with an additional two manuscripts in progress. In addition, Dr. Fisher obtained IRB approval and began a project examining outcomes for patients with neuroendocrine tumors. He also worked with Dr. Abbott as a secondary mentor using the Marketscan Database to examine the cost of various health services. In 2016, the American College of Surgeons awarded Dr. Fisher a Resident Research Scholarship. Dr. Fisher will resume clinical training in general surgery residency as a clinical PGY-3 resident.

Trainee: Joseph Imbus, MD
Mentors: David Schneider, MD, MS, and Rebecca Sippel, MD
Training Period: July 2016 – June 2018

Dr. Imbus spent time with the Surgical Oncology Training Program working on multiple outcomes research projects. These studies will provide data extracted from thyroid cytology, pathology, and ultrasound reports, which will be used for machine learning to predict malignancy. Dr. Imbus also worked with Dr. Luke Funk to write an editorial on changes in personal relationships after bariatric surgery. Dr. Imbus conducted research with Dr. David Melnick on opioid use and prescribing practices after outpatient general surgery. Finally, Dr. Imbus completed a Master’s in Population Health and plans to continue conducting surgical outcomes research and minimally invasive general surgery.

Trainee: Jennifer Philip, MD
Mentor: Naomi Chesler, PhD (College of Engineering)
Training Period: July 2016 – June 2018

Over the course of her time with the Vascular Surgery Training Program, Dr. Philip worked with mentor Naomi Chesler on investigations into the biomechanical mechanisms of secondary pulmonary hypertension. This work has involved development of a small animal model of pulmonary hypertension due to ischemic heart failure, computational modeling of the cardiovascular system, and characterization of pulmonary mechanics in porcine models of heart failure. This work has resulted in presentations at the American Thoracic Society and the American Heart Association, and two first-author manuscripts, both currently in preparation. Furthermore, Dr. Philip has taken on responsibility for training and mentoring several undergraduate, medical, and graduate students. She was awarded the Nina Starr Braunwald Research Fellowship from the Thoracic Surgery Foundation for “Regulation of Cardiac Fibroblast-Mediated Ventricular Remodeling by Beta-Arrestin1.” Dr. Philip will be returning to general surgery residency to complete her training. She plans to pursue a trauma and critical care surgery fellowship. Dr. Philip is aiming for a career in academic surgery with an independently-funded lab investigating cardiovascular physiology.

Trainee: Brooks Rademacher, MD
Mentors: Evie Carchman, MD, and Paul F. Lambert, PhD (UW Carbone Cancer Center)
Training Period: July 2016 – January 2018

Dr. Rademacher’s work in the prevention of anal cancer has provided the necessary preclinical data for a clinical trial where patients with anal dysplasia will be given a novel topical therapy to promote regression of their dysplasia and prevent anal cancer development. In 2017, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons awarded Dr. Rademacher Best Paper Award for his presentation, “Improving the Response to Chemoradiotherapy using in vitro Models of Anal Cancer.” He published a manuscript in Virology discussing the pharmacologic modulation of autophagy in relation to anal cancer development. Dr. Rademacher is continuing his residency, and will also supervise two undergraduate students conducting in vitro experiments to evaluate novel therapies for anal cancer.