The strategic plan for surgical research centers on the development of disease- and discipline-based specialty programs. These research focus groups are organized around surgeons and scientists with common interests to foster interaction, innovation, and mentoring. In so doing, our goal is to transcend traditional departmental and divisional barriers through joint surgeon/scientist recruitments and appointments, shared research space, and targeted investments in administration and core research infrastructure. These programs will yield high quality research and, importantly, serve as a breeding ground for both young surgeons with a sophisticated background in modern science as well as basic investigators with an enhanced appreciation for surgical disease.
Trauma, Sepsis and Inflammation
Trauma, Sepsis & Inflammation Research
Group (TSIRG) (Alex B. Lentsch, Ph.D.,
is composed of a multidisciplinary research team with a common mission to delineate the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which insults such as trauma and infection result in local and systemic inflammation that can lead to multiple organ failure and death. The current research of this group involves signal transduction pathways responsible for phagocyte priming and activation, assembly of neutrophil NADPH oxidase, immunomodulation of lymphocyte function, Toll-like receptor modulation of critical injury, and transcriptional activation and regulation of proinflammatory gene expression in the settings of trauma and shock. The organization of this research group provides a "bedside to the bench and back" approach where the clinical experience and expertise of the surgical faculty, in close collaboration with basic scientists, initiates hypothesis driven bench science investigations whose results can ultimately be applied back in the clinical arena. The TSIRG also has strong collaborative ties with clinical and research faculty at Children’s Hospital and Shriners Burn Hospital Cincinnati, constituting a large, collaborative group focused on all aspects of injury research. The Laboratory for Trauma, Sepsis and Inflammation Research is located on the G-level of the Surgical Research Unit and consists of nearly 4,000 square feet of research space configured as an open laboratory to enhance the communication and interactions between investigators and research staff of this group.
Oncology Research Group
Gastrointestinal Oncology (Susan E. Waltz, Ph.D., Director) draws together investigators collaborating on projects related to understanding the molecular alterations in normal epithelial cells leading to tumor initiation, progression and metastatic dissemination. Current research in this group focuses on the significance of cell surface receptor tyrosine kinases, signaling transduction pathways, mechanisms of apoptotic resistance, and genetic programs critical to drive tumorigenesis. Members of the Oncology Research Group collaborate with members of the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Research Foundation, and the clinical faculty within the Division of Surgical Oncology. In addition, this group collaborates heavily with leading research companies on the design and proof of concept for novel therapeutic cancer targets. The overarching goal of the Oncology Research Group is to bring their research findings from the bench to practices and treatments delivered at the bedside. The Oncology Research laboratories are located on the G-level of the Surgical Research Unit.
Peptide Hormone Research Group
The Peptide Hormone Research Group is comprised of investigators focused on peptide biochemistry, signal transduction, and metabolism. Specifically, this group investigates 1) the role of peptide hormones in various diseases, and 2) whether peptide hormones could be modulated for therapeutic use. These studies include the synthesis and/or release of peptide hormones, their receptors and the signal transduction pathways, as well as structure-function studies to develop potent and receptor selective ligands which will be useful to understand the basic physiology of peptide hormones and may form the basis for the development of novel therapies. Current research efforts are focused on studying neuropeptide Y (NPY), peptide YY (PYY), pancreatic polypeptide (PP) and ghrelin and their role in obesity, cachexia, intestinal dysfunction and cardiovascular ischemia. These investigations have resulted in the development of highly potent and receptor selective NPY/PYY ligands with significant clinical potential. Additional efforts center on the chemistry, biology and signal transduction of neurogastrointestinal hormones, especially those of neuropeptide Y (NPY), peptide YY (PYY), ghrelin, glucagon-like peptide II (GLP-II) and amylin. The major focus of research is directed towards understanding the intracellular mechanisms of hormone action and modulating peptide hormone sequences for therapeutic use. These hormones have been implicated in the pathophysiology of a number of diseases including feeding disorders, seizures, intestinal dysfunction, and diabetes. A new class of compounds based on these hormones may be developed for a variety of disorders. Finally, applications of synthetic peptides on cancer-induced anorexia/cachexia, injury-induced hypermetabolism and control of energy metabolism are being studied. The laboratories of this research group are housed in the SRU and MSB.
Institute of Molecular Pharmacology
Institute of Molecular Pharmacology
and Biophysics (Arnold Schwartz, Ph.D.,
Director)provides a unique, integrated unit for detailed research and education in the area of molecular pharmacology and biophysics, with a strong focus on the cardiovascular system. The institute is supported by an NIH Program Project Grant, grants from the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health, as well as an NIH Training Program in Molecular and Cellular Cardiovascular Biology. The areas of interest include isolation and characterization of receptors for calcium modulating drugs, mechanisms of regulation of ion-gated channels and control of cellular calcium. The IMPB laboratories are located in the Cardiovascular Research Center.
Shriners Hospital for Children
/ Cincinnati Burns Hospital Research Program
The Research Program at the Cincinnati Shriners Burns Hospital
(Richard J. Kagan, M.D., Director of
Research) has made significant improvements to standards of care for burn patients in the areas of wound healing, scarring, infection, immunology, metabolism and nutrition. The program comprises five laboratories furnished with state-of-the-art equipment and staffed by researchers with national and international reputations, as well as three funded Special Shared Facilities in Clinical Research, Microscopy & Imaging, and Flow Cytometry. These facilities are used by all the investigators and collaborators affiliated with Shriners Hospitals for Children, and results are used for pilot studies as well as funded research projects. Data collected from the use of these facilities are used to develop and improve skin substitutes, determine the factors responsible for optimal wound healing and scarring, locate the mechanisms responsible for lung injury and inflammation, discover the mechanisms and methods to modulate the immune response following thermal injury, prevent or reduce the occurrence of muscle breakdown following burn injury, and improve the nutritional supplementation of burn patients. The extraordinary results already obtained from these research efforts are made possible by a scientific staff of 34 faculty including Ph.D.'s and surgeon-scientists in the Department of Surgery.
Tissue Engineering (Steven Boyce, Ph.D., Director) at the Cincinnati Shriners Burns Hospital has achieved remarkable success in closure of skin wounds using engineered skin grafts. Beginning with an understanding of somatic stem cells in the skin, cells from the outer skin (epidermis) and inner skin (dermis) are combined with a degradable polymer fabric which allows the cells to organize, and form skin barrier before grafting. The engineered skin has been transplanted successfully to treat burns, and reduce the need for harvesting of donor skin and the number of grafting operations to complete wound closure. Non-invasive instruments have been adapted to evaluate the hydration, softness, color, smoothness, and blood flow in healed skin. Continuing studies with engineered skin include regulation of skin color by addition of melanocytes (pigment cells), formation of vascular networks from endothelial cells, ingrowth of nerves to restore sensation, and generation of hair by genetic regulation of epidermal and dermal cells. Furthermore, skin cells have been modified genetically to express therapeutic genes to improve wound healing, and reduce scars. Additional studies investigate the release of endothelial progenitor cells from the bone marrow to participate in the development of blood supply and tissue repair in engineered skin. This comprehensive program in tissue engineering is recognized nationally and internationally for its accomplishments, and for continuing contributions to cellular transplantation and regenerative medicine.