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PhD program option:

The University of Colorado Department of Surgery and and Denver Health Trauma laboratory provide the unique opportunity for surgery residents obtain a PhD in Clinical Investigation during 3 years of protected research integrated into clinical training. This doctoral degree is initiated after the second year of general surgery. The first year of training begins with a mixed didactic course load in biostatistics, epidemiology, and clinical trial design while obtaining expertise  in a diverse range of clinical arenas ranging from trauma, bariatric, colorectal, transplant to oncology. After completing two years of protected research time these residents will have completed all didactics required for their PhD in addition to formulating proposed projects for their PhD thesis. During this same timeframe the resident will have completed numerous individual projects resulting in presentations at national and international meetings with peer reviewed publications. The challenging aspect of the program begins the following year when the resident returns to clinical duties to complete clinical year PGY3. There is no dedicated research time during this clinical year and the resident is expected to continue research efforts. This is reflective of real life academic surgery in which a balance between clinical duties and academic pursuits is necessary. After completion of clinical PGY3, the resident returns for 12 more months of protected research to complete their PhD. This program is partially subsidized by an NIH T32 grant which helps pay salary, tuition, and travel to meetings. There is currently one integrated PhD surgery fellow at the University of Colorado who has 47 peer reviewed publications, has edited a text book, and has presented at international meetings spanning from Hong Kong to Vienna, with regular appearances at major national surgery meetings. He is on track to finish his PhD in the summer of 2017. Next year, two additional residents will pursue the integrated PhD track. This program has caught the attention of the NIH with the interest in retaining surgical scientists, as the "late bloomer PhD" addresses the large time gap between completing a PhD and becoming a junior attending, which has been blamed for the current shortcomings of MD/PhD programs.

Recent Research Opportunities

Research "Match" Dinner Oct. 15

Research/Academics in the General Surgery Residency at the University of Colorado
In addition to the five years of clinical general surgery training, categorical residents are expected to spend two to three years as a resident in research/academics. Most spend two years in research or academics. Opportunities for clinical as well as basic science research abound. Several of our residents have completed masters degrees during the two research years. Occasionally residents spend three years in order to satisfy the requirements for a Ph.D. The residents are also encouraged to participate in various clinical research projects in collaboration with the faculty. 
Diverse research opportunities are available to individuals seeking careers in academic surgery. Most surgical residents spend a two-year research fellowship working with established surgical faculty investigators.  Those entering the program with a Ph.D. are given the opportunity to set up an individualized curriculum. Residents pursue research spanning the full range of investigation from basic science to translational investigations, and clinical and outcomes-based research.

Recent Research opportunities (click here)


Anthony Bacon Surgical Education, RY3
Brandon Chapman Surgical Oncology/Dr. Edi, RY2
Peter Einersen Trauma/Dr. Moore/Banerjee, RY2
Mohamed Eldeiry CT Surg/Dr. Reece, RY1
Alicia Heelan Gladden Surgical Education/QI, RY1
Maggie Hodges CHCO - Dr. Liechty, RY2
Christina Kim Pediatrics - Dr. Karrer, RY1
Patrick Kohtz Thoracic/Dr. Weyant, RY1
Yihan Lin Global Health, related to MPH,RY2
Logan McKenna Head & Nack CA/Dr. Xiao-Jing Wang, RY3
Kaitlin McLoughlin National Cancer Institute, Dr. Ripley
Hunter Moore Doctoral research
Geoffrey Nunns Trauma, RY1
Doug Overbey VA and Vascular Research, RY2
David Sprunger Pulmonary Fibrosis, Dr. Jeff Swigris, RY2
Gregory Stettler Trauma/Dr. Moore/Banerjee, RY1
Becky Trinh Plastic Surgery/Dr. Deleyannis, RY1
Bradley Wallace CHCO-Dr. Abman Neonatology, RY2


Examples of Project descriptions from current research residents:

Brandon Chapman -

My research is focused in surgical outcomes and quality improvement, primarily in surgical oncology and colorectal surgery.  At University Hospital, I have helped develop a pancreatic database and have performed multiple retrospective chart reviews at our institution.  I also work with the Surgical Outcomes and Applied Research (SOAR) using large national databases including the National Cancer Database and ACS-NSQIP.  In addition, I am getting my Masters in Clinical Science at the University of Colorado Denver to learn biostatistics.

Peter Einersen- My research in the trauma lab involves clinical outcomes studies utilizing the extensive Denver Trauma Activations Protocol (TAP) database and translational basic science studies, primarily in rat and whole blood models, designed to validate the hypotheses generated in my clinical investigations. So far the highlights of my research have included validating thresholds for a thromboelastogram (TEG) driven massive transfusion protocol, which is now in use at Denver Health and developing a novel hypothesis for the cellular signaling responsible for post-traumatic hyperfibrinolysis, which I will be testing in animal models over the coming year.


Alicia Heelan Gladden-

My research time is focused on completing clinical research in the areas of breast surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, and trauma surgery. Additionally, I am developing and executing a curriculum and a large scale project in quality improvement through the CU School of Medicine Institute for Quality, Safety & Efficiency (HQSE).

Patrick Kohtz-

I am doing basic research with Dr. Weyant with both esophageal and lung cancer cell lines. We are evaluating the different genetic, inflammatory proteins and immune system components essential to these cancerous cell lines growth and proliferation.  My clinical research projects include a VA ECMO outcomes and ex vivo lung transplant outcomes.

Geoffrey Nunns -

My research is focused on trauma and the metabolic and coagulaton changes during hemorrhagic shock and tissue injury. Working with Dr. Moore's lab, I am studying the metabolic changes in animal models of trauma.  We are also studying the effect of these metabolites in vitro on coagulation abnormalities and ischemic reperfusion injury.

Doug Overbey -

My research is a combination of general and vascular surgery basic and clinical research. With Dr. Robinson at the VAMC, we are performing a clinical trial for loco-regional pain control affecting delirium, and benchtop studies of surgical energy and surgical fires. I am also working with Dr. Nehler and the vascular surgery team on quality improvement projects, surgical education, and database outcomes research specific to aortic surgery and acute limb ischemia.

David Sprunger -

I am working with Dr. Jeff Swigris at National Jewish Health in the interstitial lung disease group on projects related to the epidemiology and molecular biology of pulmonary fibrosis. I am currently working on a pilot study for a clinical trial which will treat skeletal muscle dysfunction in these patients. In addition I am collaborating with the oncology group at NJH to build a nationalwide cohort of patients with pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer in order to better understand the unique mechanisms that lead to malignancy in these patients.

Becky Trinh-
I am investigating the effects of electronic cigarettes and smoking cessation on wound healing and flap survival. There are a number of other projects including a clinical/surgical trip to examine genetics and mosaicism in microtia in the Guatemalan pediatric population.
Bradley Wallace- (Bradley Wallace also serves as the 2016-17 Research Administrative Chief Resident). My research focuses on lung development in neonatal disease states. I work specifically with the Pediatric Heart Lung Center under Dr. Abman alongside Dr. Partrick and Dr. Marwan looking at models for ronchopulmonary dysplasia and congenital diaphragmatic hernias, as well as treatment under these disease phenotypes. I am also working on a wide variety of clinical projects alongside various members of the Pediatric Surgery Team at Children's Hospital Colorado.
Photos are of Research Mentors and PI's. These faculty were included the Research "Match" dinner October 15, 2015 where research PI's and research residents presented their areas of investigation and a panel of research residents answered questions for the categorical residents to assist them in identifying their future research focus.  This year's Research "Match" Dinner will take place on October 6, 2016 from 6-8:30 pm and all PGY-1 to PGY-3 categoricals, research residents, faculty PI's and research mentors are invited to attend.

Research Residents and Panelists
Principal Investigators working with Surgery residents:

Steve Abman, MD                      Carlton Barnett, MD


Frederic Deleyannis, MD              R. Taylor Ripley, MD (NCI)

     Michael Weyant, MD                        Timothy  Crombleholme, MD
Ernest E. "Gene" Moore, MD          Anirban Banerjee, PhD

Vice Chair of Trauma and
Critical Care Research

Brett Reece, MD                              David Fullerton, MD
                                                     Vice Chair of Surgical
             David A. Partrick
David Partrick, MD                         Kenneth Liechty, MD
Frederick Karrer, MD                    Christopher Raeburn, MD

Robert Meguid, MD                         Xiao-Jing Wang, MD, PhD
  Featured Provider Photo    Mark Nehler, MD
 Thomas Robinson, MD                   Mark Nehler, MD
David P. Kuwayama, MD             Jeffrey James Swigris
                                                             David Kuwayama, MD                      Jeffrey Swigris, MD (NJH)                                                       

   Richard D. Schulick, MD, MBA       
 Richard Schulick, MD                      Barish Edil, MD