Research Day 2010

The UF Department of Surgery hosted its 6th Annual Research Day on April 16 to highlight faculty and residents’ latest research accomplishments, as well as to honor excelling initiatives.

Opening the day’s events was a presentation by visiting professor Kirby I. Bland, M.D., chairman and professor of surgery at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. A former UF surgical resident and faculty member, Bland discussed clinical trials in the area of high-risk rectal cancer.

The program continued with oral and poster presentations offered by UF faculty and residents.

“Over the past six years, the overall quantity of both basic science and clinical translational research has progressively improved,” said Lyle L. Moldawer, Ph.D., professor and vice chairman. “The caliber of research being produced by the department meets or exceeds that produced by any other department of surgery in the country.”

Scientific updates from previous winners of the Department of Surgery’s Research Career Development Award were presented on the topics of vein grafting, renal injury during cardiovascular surgery, and cell death after ischemia/reperfusion.

Philip Efron, M.D., an assistant professor of surgery and anesthesiology, was announced as the 2010 recipient of the Research Career Development Award. He will receive $25,000 to help fund his research initiatives.

“I am very honored to be part of a long-line of young faculty who have been awarded this award, many of whom have subsequently obtained NIH funding,” said Efron, who added that this kind of support by the department allows the researcher early in their career to translate ambitious creative ideas into concrete data that can justify government investment in that scientist. “Without the generosity and vision of the department, many of these important investigative ideas, which will better our patients’ lives, would never come to fruition.”

Efron will use the support to conduct research into the relationship between blood transfusions and increased infection and mortality in surgical patients. He said he will test his theory that transfusion of stored packed red blood cells from a genetically dissimilar individual, which includes most of the blood products given in civilian hospitals, can have a detrimental effect on the recipient’s immune system.

“This is a very clinically relevant issue as stored blood is commonly transfused in our patient populations, and its use probably requires increased scrutiny,” said Efron, who is co-director of the UF Laboratory of Inflammation Biology and Surgical Science. “In addition, investigation into ways to counteract the malevolent side-effects of transfusions would be of great utility.”

For the first time, the department awarded two honors for both the best clinical and translational science and basic science abstracts, due to a high quantity of high-quality abstract presentations.

Moldawer said the committee based its decisions not only on the scientific merits of the work, but on the quality of the presentation and discussion with the audience.

Clinical and Translational Science Award recipients were:

  • Michael Hong, M.D., a third-year UF surgical resident, for “TEVAR is associated with broadened treatment eligibility and decreased overall mortality in traumatic thoracic aorta injury”
  • Constance Lee, M.D., a fourth-year UF surgical resident, for “The effect of cilostazol on intermittent claudication in a real-life VA practice”
  • Basic Science Award recipients were:
  • Anitha Shenoy, a UF Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences graduate student, for “WNT/TCF Pathway reporter: a dual fusion construct to isolate and image colon cancer initiating cells”
  • Audrey Cox, a UF undergraduate student, for “A novel small molecule disrupts the protein interactions of FAK and IGF-I receptor and decreases growth of a direct esophageal cancer xenograft”

Each of the four winners will receive a plaque and $500 cash award.

“The successes of Research Day 2010 reflect the commitment by the faculty, house officers and professional staff to the pursuit of scholarly activities and the advancement of surgical science,” Moldawer said. “Despite financial constrictions and the continued emphasis on clinical productivity and improved outcomes, Research Day 2010 reconfirms that surgical research at the University of Florida College of Medicine is not only alive, but thriving. Because of their dedication and shared common goals to improve surgical research and education, scholarly activities within the department continue to grow and to beneficially impact on education and clinical care.”

 May 2, 2010