Research Areas

Basic Science Research

To continue providing outstanding patient care, we strive to discover new ideas, technologies and concepts through research.

Basic science conducts state-of-the-art hypothesis testing through laboratory investigation of the physiological and biochemical adjustments to diseases and their surgical treatments. While basic research results are stressed in ORBIT, education of students, residents, trainees and faculty goes hand in hand to make future discovery-based surgical treatments sustainable.

ORBIT Basic science research provides scientists and trainees with:

  • Cutting-edge equipment and techniques to conduct research
  • Generous laboratory infrastructure

ORBIT leadership provides decades of experience in:

  • Conducting and teaching productive research in the surgical sciences
  • Fundraising to sustain the activities and missions of ORBIT

Translational Research and Clinical Trials

A critical objective of ORBIT is to facilitate bench-to-bedside discoveries that can truly impact all aspects of the surgical experience.

To spur high-quality clinical and translational research, ORBIT assists surgeon-scientists with:

  • Clinical trials: Design, regulation, coordination and implementation through the use of research coordinators and research infrastructure improvement.
  • Grants: Grant writing, budgeting and administration.
  • Translational studies: Identification of basic scientists who can help translate clinical questions into testable experimental models.
  • Seed funding: Grants for high-quality projects that can be used to generate preliminary data necessary to obtain extramural funding.
  • Regulatory support: Guidance to help get studies approved or renewed through the IRB.
  • Research mentorship: Mentoring by experienced senior investigators in surgical research to help faculty navigate the research maze.
  • Statistics: Using the correct statistical methods for clinical or translational studies.
  • Marketing: Leveraging research accomplishments to gain increased visibility in local, regional and national communities.

Surgery Research Labs


    Led by Martin Mangino, PhD, the laboratory conducts basic science, translational, and clinical studies in both organ preservation for transplantation and in hemorrhagic shock and critical care.  Basic molecular mechanisms of ischemia and reperfusion injury involving the cytoskeletal system, survival signaling pathways, and lipid mediators are studied. Translation to clinical organ preservation and resuscitation injury in patients is the goal. Reanimation of discarded organs from DCD donors is studied using hearts, kidneys, and livers from DCD patients and animal models. Basic molecular and cellular mechanism of ischemic cholangiopathy in liver grafts obtained from DCD donors is underway. Systems Biology involving lipidomic analysis of patients in the STICU is ongoing to test hypotheses about lipid mediator class switching in the cause of critical illness and multiple organ failure in surgical ICU patients. New low volume resuscitation solutions are being developed for both civilian and combat casualty care by targeting lethal cell swelling in ischemia. A wide spectrum of techniques are utilized including molecular and cell biology, transgenic mice and cell lines, lipidomics and analytical biochemistry,  organ physiology, pharmacology, whole animal models in transplantation and trauma, and clinical studies.

    LOCATION: Sanger Hall 9th floor


    Led by Vigneshwar Kasirajan, MD and Mohammed Quader, MD, is currently investigating to reanimate human hearts that have been turned down for transplantation. Studies involve ex-vivo perfusion using Langendorff and working heart preparations followed by transplantation. Molecular and biochemical mechanisms of reanimation are explored along with high resolution functional evaluation of left ventricular function to assess reanimation and predict clinical outcomes. The goal is to increase heart utilization for transplantation by reanimating injured hearts that would not otherwise be considered for donation for transplantation. Finally, a search for the molecular and biochemical mechanisms involved in the reanimation effect is underway to facilitate optimal reanimation and to develop a synthetic reanimation solution and an automated device.

    LOCATION: Sanger Hall 9th floor 


    Led by Dorne Yager, PhD, the laboratory space studies the molecular and cell biology of wound healing. He also has a translational program interested in developing novel therapies for healing surgical and burn wounds. His laboratory studies signal transduction and biochemical pathways that are involved in the complex process of wound healing, scar formation, and tissue regeneration. He is interested in the signaling of small molecule gases such as nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide in wound healing. Other areas of interest include the effect of bacterial invasion on wound healing in the septic wound and wound healing in burn patients.

    LOCATION: Sanger Hall 6th Floor 


    Led by Adam Klausner, MD, investigation of specific projects including the role of corticotropin releasing factor in detrusor overactivity, the role of antimuscarinics in plaque formation in animal models of Alzheimer disease, and the role of interstitial cells of cajal in pathogenesis of overactive bladder.

    LOCATION: Sanger Hall 12th Floor


    Led by Marlon Levy, MD and Mazar Kanak, PhD, this lab investigates pancreatic islet recovery and transplantation for treatment of chronic pancreatitis (pancreatectomy and Autoislet transplantation). Studies involving innate and adaptive cellular immunology, cell biology, cell signaling, and animal models of islet recovery, preservation, isolation, and transplantation will be used. Allogeneic islet transplants will begin soon with opportunities for further work in this area.

    LOCATION: Biotechnology Research Center


    Led by Kirsty Dixon, PhD, the lab studies neurotrauma including therapies to repair injury from traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. The lab also focuses on novel and effective central non-narcotic pain control mechanisms that can be used to treat chronic pain following brain injury, and in other forms of injury or disease, such as in pancreatitis, without the need for narcotic analgesics.

    LOCATION: Sanger Hall 9th floor
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