Optional research program
Our residents have the opportunity to spend one, two, or three additional years doing clinical and/or basic science research between the clinical PG2 and PG3 years. Conducting research during residency is highly recommended, however, it is not required for incoming interns who elect to apply for the non-research track. During these research years the department sponsors and pays tuition for the research resident to complete a Masters of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI) in our NIH-sponsored program.
This research experience can set the stage for a productive academic career, propel the resident to a top fellowship, or simply allow the young surgeon an opportunity to learn what really goes into research so that he/she may evaluate medical literature more critically. Regardless of a surgeon's ultimate career path, we believe that time spent in research should complement the clinical training and make one a better surgeon over the long term.
Research opportunities are at the discretion of the resident and can be mentored by faculty within the Department of Surgery or in conjunction with other departments. Some residents have even chosen to do research at other institutions. Past resident research projects have been the realms of bench science, clinical research, education, and public health policy.
The Research Resident program is led by Martin Schwacha, PhD, Professor of
Dr. Schwacha also holds the position of Research Scientist at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research. He has served/serves on the editorial boards of Shock and International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine as well as an ad hoc reviewer for numerous other scientific journals. Martin has also served as a review committee member for the NIH, Shriner's Hospital and DoD Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs and is an active member of a number of scientific societies focused on trauma, infection and/or immunology.
Dr. Schwacha's laboratory focuses on the role of the innate immune system in the host's response to traumatic injury, with particular emphasis on the response to burn injury. Major burn injury induces an immunopathogenic response with the release of a wide range of pro-inflammatory mediators by macrophages and other cells that contribute to the development of numerous complications including; immune dysfunction, SIRS, sepsis, delayed wound healing and multiple organ failure. Dr. Schwacha's laboratory has shown that post-burn immunosuppression is induced by macrophage-mediated processes. Other findings indicate a central role for gamma-delta T-cells in the post-burn immunoinflammatory responses including the regulation of macrophage hyperactivity, neutrophil-mediated organ injury, and wound healing. This T-cell subset is uniquely positioned in the immune/inflammatory axis to influence tissue repair, inflammation, anti-microbial activity and overall immune status post-injury. Current studies are directed at improving our understanding of gamma-delta T-cells in post-burn immunoinflammatory processes in both experimental and clinical settings. Other areas of major interest are the impact of opiate analgesics on post-injury immune responses and the relationship(s) between insulin resistance post-injury immune function.