The Department of Surgery is currently undertaking a number of research endeavors in an effort to forward our knowledge of the basic sciences and improve patient care. Our physicians are dedicated to achieving quality results while undertaking some of the biggest questions facing the medical and scientific community. The projects we are involved in span our numerous divisions, and include collaborations within the University and with academics at other institutions. Click on one of our research areas below to learn more:
Research in Surgical Oncology
The main focus of our laboratory is the identification of human tumor antigens recognized by human cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTL), in the elucidating the nature of the host: tumor relationship and in hopes of creating novel immunologic treatments for human cancer. We use human tumor cells and autologous lymphocytes to generate tumor specific CTL, HLA-type the patient’s cells, seek evidence of shared tumor antigens, and extract MHC-associated peptides. Immunologically active peptides are identified and sequenced using tandem mass spectrometry. At present, most of our energies are devoted to identification of peptide epitopes for CTL specific for human melanoma expressing HLA-A2.1. We have recently identified one peptide epitope for HLA-A2-restricted melanoma-specific CTL, and we poised to identify others. We are preparing tumor vaccines in the laboratory, using melanoma cell lines as well as synthetic peptides, and a major effort in the lab will be to evaluate patient immune responses to novel tumor vaccines. The work is being expanded to include identification of peptide epitopes for melanoma presented on HLA-A3 and on other MHC molecules, as well as the identification of peptide epitopes for CTL specific for solid tumors other than melanoma. We have human CTL lines specific for melanoma and restricted HLA-A3 and other CTLl ines specific for squamous cell carcinoma of the lung. We have preliminary data on CTL against colon, ovarian, and breast cancers. The process of peptide extraction and identification is well underway for the characterization of epitopes from the HLA-A3(+) melanomas and from lung cancer.
The Trauma Service and the UVA Trauma Center have an intense and varied clinical research program.Major areas of study resulting in recent publications include:
- Interhospital vs. Direct Transfer of Major Trauma Patients
- CT vs. DPL in the Diagnosis of Abdominal Injury Following Blunt Trauma
- Lactic Acidosis Correlates with Morbidity and Mortality Following Severe Traumatic Injury
- Blunt Hepatic Trauma
- Coagulopathy in Severe Blunt Head Injury
Presentations from the Trauma Service and the UVA TraumaCenter have won the Virginia Chapter of the American College of Surgeons Trauma Resident Paper competition for the last three consecutive years.
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Resident research can only thrive with appropriate mentorship. The faculty of the University of Virginia Department of Surgery are committed to research in their own careers as well as to helping residents develop as surgeon-scientists.
Categorical residents are required to submit a research proposal in the winter and present their topic during Resident Research Day in April as a poster or an oral presentation. Pre-existing work is acceptable, but novel research created for research day also is encouraged. This frequently results in work being presented and published in other forums including presentations at local, regional, or national meetings and publication in peer reviewed journals.