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Research Collaborations with Surgery at Special Grand Rounds

December 13, 2021

Faculty from the UK Departments of Surgery and Biomedical Engineering provided general reviews of past and ongoing collaborative research initiatives at a special Surgery Grand Rounds presentation in November.

By Josh Shepherd

Co-hosted by William B. Inabnet III, MD, MHA, FACS, the Johnston Wright Endowed Professor and Chair of Surgery, and Guigen Zhang, PhD, FBMES, FBSE, FAIMBE, Professor and Chair of the F. Joseph Halcomb III, MD Department of Biomedical Engineering, the grand rounds celebrated and promoted innovation and continuing collaboration between their respective departments.

Dr. Zhang and Dr. Inabnet have been in regular talks to establish a formal collaborative partnership to codify current and future opportunities in biomedical research and grant funding. These grand rounds sessions will be used to inspire faculty, residents, and students to explore new ideas and novel solutions in surgical device designs, techniques, and treatment of disease.

Guoqiang Yu, Ph.D.
Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Pediatrics
Department of Biomedical Engineering, UK College of Engineering

Dr. Guoqiang Yu’s research team has been developing innovative uses for Near-Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy and tomography, a non-invasive approach to detecting ischemia or hypoxia in skin and organ tissues. Clinical applications for this optical technology have been employed in collaboration with several College of Medicine faculty.

NIR imaging can penetrate several centimeters into skin surfaces non-invasively to measure blood flow and oxygenation. He summarized how the NIR technology has been used in the following applications:

  1. A study of the technology in measuring and assessing blood flow distribution in mastectomy skin flaps with Dr. Lesley Wong and Dr. Alisha Paranzino, a PGY-6 resident in Plastic Surgery.
  2. Using the optical technology to monitor cerebral blood flow with Drs. Elie G. Abu Jawdeh (Pediatrics), Henrietta S. Bada (Pediatrics), and Lei Chen (Physiology).
  3. The development of wearable fluorescence eye loupes as an alternative to bulky imaging equipment that assist Neurosurgeons in the resection of brain tumors with Dr. Thomas A. Pittman (Neurosurgery and Pediatrics).

    David Minion, MD
    Professor of Surgery
    Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, UK Department of Surgery

Dr. David Minion briefly discussed the process of innovation that led to the development of a patented design for a device used in Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR). The invention itself began as an idea, an epiphany, Dr. Minion had when he questioned the conventional wisdom of deploying an aortic graft quickly once it was in the proper position. His experience led him to alter several aspects of the graft’s basic configuration, resulting in a significant design innovation that he was able to patent as his own.

Fanny Chapelin, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Molecular Imaging Lab – Chapelin Lab
Department of Biomedical Engineering, UK College of Engineering

Dr. Chapelin and her research team have developed several Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) methods using different contrast agents to track stem cells and immune cells for cancer treatment, tissue regeneration, and solid organ transplant research.

The laboratory has played a vital role in several collaborative research projects with the Markey Cancer Center and the UK Transplant Center. She briefly summarizes the lab’s most recent work, including its participation in the T Cells to Induce Liver Tolerance (TILT) Alliance with Drs. Roberto Gedaly and Francesc Marti.

Roberto Gedaly, MD, FACS
Professor of Surgery and Director, UK Transplant Center
Division of Transplantation, UK Department of Surgery

Dr. Gedaly provides a general overview of research projects which faculty from the UK Transplant Center and the Department of Biomedical Engineering have conducted in recent years. Earlier partnerships involved research on cancer, which resulted in two patents. Recent collaborations, however, have focused on immunology and the possible role that regulatory T-cells may play in reducing liver and kidney organ rejection in transplant patients. He elaborated further on the TILT Alliance that involves himself, Dr. Chapelin, Aman Khurana, MD, and Francesc Marti, Ph.D.
Dr. Gedaly also touched on Novartis funded research on T-cells in kidney transplants. 
He concluded with a brief mention of a possible subproject related to the work of the TILT Alliance.

These four presentations are just a few examples of the opportunities in innovation and invention that Surgery and Biomedical Engineering faculty can achieve working together.