Notable News from the Department of Surgery

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Notable News from the Department of SurgerySeptember 8, 2017

Michael E. Halkos Appointed New Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery

Selected as the new chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery after an extensive national search, Michael E. Halkos, MD, MSc, will direct one of the largest cardiothoracic surgery programs in the country and the largest in Georgia. Dr. Halkos is a highly experienced and productive academic cardiac surgeon-scientist with expertise in minimally invasive cardiac surgery, particularly robotic-assisted coronary artery bypass surgery and robotic mitral valve surgery, hybrid coronary revascularization, and hybrid atrial fibrillation ablation.
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Emory & Georgia Tech Team's Transplant Imaging Research Supported by NIAID
Andrew Adams, MD, PhD, assistant professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine, and Phil Santangelo, PhD, associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory, have received a $2.4 million, five-year NIAID grant to study non-invasive imaging to detect immune rejection of transplanted organs.
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Muralidhar Padala Receives Two R01s to Develop Novel Techniques for Repairing Diseased Heart Valves
Muralidhar Padala, PhD, director of the structural heart research program of the Emory Cardiothoracic Research Laboratory, has been awarded two National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute R01 grants totaling $5 million to develop new techniques to repair mitral regurgitation in patients with heart failure.
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I. Raul Badell Will Use NIH K08 to Study Mechanisms of DSA Formation Following Kidney Transplantation

Emory transplant surgeon I. Raul Badell, MD (pictured above with his primary mentor, Mandy Ford, PhD, scientific director of the Emory Transplant Center), will apply his recently received NIH K08, which obtained an impact score of 10, to studying the poorly understood processes that generate anti-human leukocyte antigen (HLA) donor-specific antibodies (DSA). DSA plays a significant role in the development of chronic rejection and fibrosis and can lead to late renal allograft loss.
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Seeking to Understand Why Cancer Screenings are Uncommon for HIV Patients
"We don't know why clinicians don't refer HIV patients for cancer and other health screenings," says Theresa Gillespie, PhD, MA, professor in the departments of surgery and hematology and oncology of Emory University. "And we don't know why patients don't take up that activity." Dr. Gillespie and Jessica Wells, PhD, assistant professor in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, plan to find out as co-leaders of a pilot study funded by a Synergy Award from the Woodruff Health Sciences Center.
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2017 Researcher Appreciation Day Highlights Outstanding Emory Investigators
In recognition of 2017 Researcher Appreciation Day, the Emory Medicine Recognitions Committee honored 43 Emory researchers that were nominated by their peers and colleagues for their groundbreaking research, development of new technologies, and continued pursuit of novel and innovative ideas. The Department of Surgery faculty included in the final listing were I. Raul Badell, Luke Brewster, Craig Coopersmith, and Mehul Raval. Congratulations to them and the other featured researchers.
Research Appreciation Day Website

Two New R01-Funded Emory Collaborations Will Develop Methods of Alleviating Kidney Transplant Disparities

Rachel Patzer, PhD (above, left), director of the Emory Transplant Center Health Services and Outcomes Research Program, is co-principal investigator on two new NIH R01 grants that deal with disparities issues associated with kidney transplant. She will work with Emory transplant surgeon-scientist Andrew Adams, MD, PhD (middle), and Georgia Institute of Technology computing professor Jimeng Sun, PhD, on one of the projects, and on the other, her collaborator will be Kimberly Jacob Arriola, PhD, MPH (right), a behavioral scientist and epidemiologist from the Rollins School of Public Health.
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Team Led by Marty Sellers and Juan Sarmiento Wins 2017 EHC Quality Academy Poster Award
The poster competition at Emory Healthcare's 10th Annual Quality Conference featured 35 finalists out of 135 entries competing for awards in nine different categories. Hepatobiliary surgeons Marty Sellers, MD, MPH, and Juan Sarmiento, MD, led the team that won the Outstanding Quality Improvement Intervention Award for an effort to reduce 30-day readmissions after hepatobiliary surgery at Emory University Hospital. Dr. Sellers, Dr. Sarmiento, and their team suspected certain factors contributing to the readmission rate could be effectively targeted.
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Shipra Arya Studying Veterans' Decision Making for Treatment of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
Shipra Arya, MD, director of the vascular lab and endovascular surgery at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, is the local site investigator for a national randomized trial that is working to better understand veterans' preferences for treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysms. In the process, the study plans to promote shared-decision making between vascular surgeons and their patients. A team of 20 vascular surgeons at VA medical centers across the country are conducting the study. Findings will be used to help ensure veterans' preferences remain at the center of AAA treatment decisions.
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Mehul Raval Named Director of the Center for Clinical Outcomes Research & Public Health

Mehul V. Raval, MD, MS, has been named director of the Center for Clinical Outcomes Research & Public Health (CORPH) of the Pediatric Research Alliance of Emory, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. As director, Dr. Raval's special focus will be on building collaboration surrounding health services research within the partner institutions.
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Video: Early Detection in Esophageal Cancer
Seth Force, MD, surgical director of Emory's Adult Lung Transplant Program, discusses the importance of early detection of early-stage esophageal cancer as well as advances in the treatment of the disease, including the employment of a promising endoscopic technique that can remove early esophageal cancer without incisions.
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Video: What is HIPEC?
Charles Staley, MD, chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology, talks about heated intraperitoneal chemoperfusion, or HIPEC, and its ability to treat advanced abdominal cancers involving the lining of the abdominal cavity such as colon cancer when used in conjunction with cytoreductive surgery. Once all visible disease is removed surgically, HIPEC is used to kill any remaining cancer cells.
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Caitlin Fitzgerald Wins Georgia ACS Day of Trauma Resident Paper Competition
Caitlin Fitzgerald, MD, an Emory general surgery resident on research sabbatical, received the Day of Trauma's Top Resident Paper Award at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Georgia Society of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Fitzgerald was first author of the paper, and Christopher Dente, MD, program director of the acute care surgery fellowship, was senior author. The focus of the paper was the incidence of acute kidney injury in a Level 1 trauma center. Drs. Fitzgerald and Dente state that the incidence of AKI remains high in the trauma population, and that they hope to identify the potential reasons behind this excessive rate and to develop new clinical care guidelines designed to diminish AKI in trauma patients. The study was conducted via a retrospective chart review of all patients that presented to Grady Memorial Hospital's trauma center from July 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016, and that subsequently developed AKI.
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Kanika Kalra Selected for ECTSS David Campbell Scholarship
PGY4 resident Kanika Kalra, MD, is the 2017 recipient of the David Campbell Resident Scholarship from the Eastern Cardiothoracic Surgical Society (ECTSS). The award supports the interests of general surgery residents in cardiothoracic surgery by pairing the award recipient with an established cardiothoracic surgical mentor, and providing an honorarium to attend the ECTSS annual meeting at Amelia Island Plantation Resort in Florida, October 18th through October 21st. At the meeting, Dr. Kalra will meet with John Conte, MD, director of mechanical circulatory support and surgical director of the structural heart disease program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. From 2013-2014, Dr. Kalra was a research fellow in the structural heart research lab in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. As a resident, she continued her research work in valvular heart disease outcomes with Vinod Thourani, MD, and vascular surgical outcomes with Shipra Arya, MD.

New Faculty

Olamide Alabi, MD
Dr. Alabi received her medical degree from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, trained in general surgery at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Southern California, and completed a fellowship in vascular surgery at Oregon Health and Science University. While at OHSU, her interest in quality improvement and surgical education was demonstrated by her efforts to decrease inadvertent arterial cannulations during central venous line placement, and to develop a new curriculum via critical evaluation of vascular surgery resident education. Dr. Alabi also engaged in multidisciplinary collaborations at OHSU, such as working to improve surgical outcomes in vascular reconstruction during oncologic surgery, and leading several systems-level quality improvement initiatives, including the development of clinical protocols to fast-track endovascular abdominal aortic aneurysm repair at OHSU's aortic center.
Dr. Alabi's Faculty Profile
Robert Crawford, MD
Dr. Crawford, a native of Guayaquil, Ecuador, is a highly experienced vascular and endovascular surgeon with demonstrated excellence in research, education, and patient care. He trained in vascular and endovascular surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where he also completed research and surgical critical care fellowships. Dr. Crawford received his MD degree from the Medical College of Virginia, and was chief administrative general surgery resident at Wayne State University. Dr. Crawford's major leadership roles prior to Emory included serving as co-director of the Center for Aortic Disease, medical director of the Vascular Surgery Progressive Care Unit, and associate program director of the vascular surgery fellowship at the University of Maryland. He also led the development of the vascular acute care surgery practice at UMC Medical Center.
Dr. Crawford's Faculty Profile
Terrah Paul Olson, MD
Dr. Paul Olson completed medical school and her general surgery residency at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. During her residency, she did two 18-month fellowships at UW, the first with mentor Richard Halberg, PhD, working on the characterization of a novel mouse model of colorectal cancer using small animal colonoscopy, and the second with mentor Margaret L. Schwarze, MD, MPP, studying issues associated with surgical decision making, conflict in the ICU, advance directives, and end-of-life care. Her fellowship in colon and rectal surgery was done at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Dr. Paul Olson's Faculty Profile
Randi Smith, MD, MPH
Dr. Smith is an assistant professor of surgery and will serve as a trauma surgeon, emergency/elective general surgeon, and surgical critical care intensivist at Grady Memorial Hospital. She received her MD at the University of California San Francisco, her MPH at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and completed her general surgery residency at the University of California San Francisco. After finishing her fellowship in trauma and surgical critical care surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, she joined Emory Surgery. Her special interests include violence prevention, injury prevention, clinical outcomes, and the use of ultrasound in critical care.
Dr. Smith's Faculty Profile
Peter Thompson, MD
Dr. Thompson is an assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He earned his MD from the University of Virginia School of Medicine. During his general surgery residency and plastic surgery residency at Emory, he was formally recognized for his professionalism and dedication to patients. Dr. Thompson's unique background includes completion of a two-year research fellowship in transplant immunology, which yielded several awards for his work dealing with pancreatic islet transplantation as a treatment for diabetes. He published regularly throughout his postgraduate years in multiple peer-reviewed journals.
Dr. Thompson's Faculty Profile
Keneeshia Williams, MD
Dr. Williams received her MD degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and completed her general surgery residency at the University of Illinois at Mount Sinai Hospital. She undertook a one-year research residency in the NIH-funded training program in trauma and burn research at the Burn and Shock Trauma Research Institute of Loyola University Medical Center, and did her surgical critical care/acute care surgery fellowship at Banner University Medical Center Tucson. Her primary clinical location is Grady Memorial Hospital, where she serves as a trauma surgeon, emergency/elective general surgeon, and surgical critical care intensivist.
Dr. Williams' Faculty Profile

Duly Noted

For the second consecutive academic year, the GME Office of the School of Medicine has named Susan Ratliff an Outstanding Program Coordinator. Ms. Ratliff is certified by the National Board for Certification of Training Administrators of Graduate Medical Education, and is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the ACGME-accredited general surgery residency. She assists program director Keith Delman, MD, in developing and maintaining the educational quality of the program, ensuring compliance with technical and accreditation standards, and other regulatory requirements.

Ankit Patel, MD, and Jahnavi Srinivasan, MD, have joined the editorial board for Surgical Laparoscopy Endoscopy & Percutaneous Techniques. Various factors qualified Drs. Patel and Srinivasan for serving on the board, including Dr. Patel's work to integrate general and GI surgery with technology and robotics, and Dr. Srinivasan's management of various simulation training opportunities for residents in endosurgical procedural skills and OR-based team training.

Thomas Pearson, MD, DPhil, is a new member of the board of LifeLink Legacy Fund, a non-profit community service organization dedicated to supporting the mission of LifeLink Foundation. The LifeLink Legacy Fund is a support system for pre- and post- transplant patients in need of financial assistance, and also provides funding for critical research and programs to improve organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

Juan Sarmiento, MD, completed his week-long, six lecture tour in South America with the delivery of the keynote presentation at the August 2017 meeting of the Colombian Surgery Association in Medellin. His focus for the talks was the WHO Surgical Checklist, which is being adopted throughout the continent. Dr. Sarmiento spoke about the lessons learned from the aviation industry that informed the creation of the list, which has influenced significant reduction in morbidity and mortality during and after surgery, and also shared his own pre- and post-list experiences at Emory.

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