The primary research activities have been in preservation of both immature and adult myocardium, continuation of lung perfusion and preservation work, participation in lung cancer clinical trials, and continues work on the clinical application of allograft valve and valved conduits. The division has numerous research grants, thus offering a unique opportunity for both general and thoracic residents to perform and be exposed to research. Expanded efforts in perfusion technology investigation have been proposed. This would include the development of a microprime neonatal system, so that bloodless cardiac surgery could be expanded to the very small infant. Efforts continue in the area of myocardial and organ protection and preservation involving the use of controlled reperfusion and substrate enhancement of cardioplegia. In addition, considerable health services and outcomes research has been funded and is underway.
Cardiac Inflammation and Other Bench Research
Currently, several extramurally funded and institution-supported projects focus on cellular proinflammatory signaling and tissue inflammatory response. These projects ultimately may lead to the development of therapeutic strategies for the prevention of inflammation-mediated tissue injury.
An important strength of this laboratory arises from the synergy of combining research training with surgical research. Surgical research trainees not only are recognized as important resources in the design and conduct of the research, but also add fresh viewpoints to the research projects.
Dr. Xianzhong Meng, director of the laboratory, has a strong interest in the mechanisms of cardiac mechanical dysfunction. He has formed a signal transduction core to determine the role of Toll-like receptor signaling in post-injury cellular inflammatory response. His investigations focus on the influence of heat shock proteins on Toll-like receptor signaling and cytokine production.
Dr. David Fullerton has a strong interest in the role of inflammatory factors in the pathogenesis of aortic stenosis. His investigations focus on the osteogenic phenotypic changes in valvular interstitial cells with an emphasis on the effect of inflammatory factors on the phenotypic changes.
Dr. Joseph Cleveland is interested in systemic and myocardial inflammatory responses to cardiopulmonary bypass and obligatory ischemia associated with heart surgery. His research effort concentrates on the effect of aging on myocardial production of proinflammatory cytokines following ischemia and reperfusion.
Dr. Michael Weyant is interested in the role of gastroduodenal reflux in epithelial hyperplasia and neoplastic growth in the esophagus. With a mouse model of gastroduodenal reflux, his research concentrates on the contribution of sPLA2 and proinflammatory mediators generated by this enzyme to the pathogenesis of epithelial hyperplasia and malignancy in the esophagus.
Dr. Anirban Banerjee directed the labs from 1986-2003, working on NMR energetics, cardiac Ischemia-Reperfusion, Preconditioning, and inflammatory kinase signaling. He has strengthened surgical research training and developed a strong suite of accessible techniques, particularly in digital fluorescent microscopy.
Since 2003 he has focused on directing the Trauma Research Center http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/departments/surgery/Research/
This effort, initiated in 1993, ranks among 7 NIH dedicated P50 programs in the US and remains one of the largest extramural efforts at the University of Colorado. The Trauma Research Center is a collaborative effort between the Department of Surgery (University of Colorado), Denver Health and the Belle Bonfils Blood Center. The focus of this Center is on the mechanisms of post-traumatic inflammation leading to potential therapy.
Dr. Banerjee’s research is focused on transcription factor mobility in gene switching during inflammation, using FRET and MS-proteomics.
This is one of the oldest research initiatives within the department. The Trauma Research Center is a collaborative effort between Dept of Surgery (University of Colorado), Denver Health and the Belle Bonfils Blood Center. The focus of this Center is on the mechanisms of post-traumatic inflammation leading to potential therapy.