John Jones Fellows

9th John Jones Research Fellow (2022-2023) Karina A. Bruestle, MD Karina A. Bruestle, MDMentor: Adam D. Griesemer, MD, Surgical Director of the Living Donor Liver Transplant Program and Surgical Director of the Pediatric Liver Transplant Program at NYU Langone. Dr. Griesemer was formerly Assistant Professor of Surgery, in the Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation, in the Department of Surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Dr. Karina Bruestle is the recipient of the 9th John Jones Research Fellowship (2022-2023) for her research on transplant tolerance and her project “Using Immuno-PET and automated CD8 quantification to diagnose cardiac transplant rejection in a Non-Human Primate Model” under mentorship of Dr. Griesemer at the Columbia Center for Translational Immunology at Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Bruestle is currently a 3rd year resident in General Surgery at New York Presbyterian – Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Karina Bruestle grew up in Southwest Germany and attended a bilingual German-French Highschool. During medical school, Karina spent her clinical years as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at the University of Massachusetts (UMass), MA. She worked on her doctoral thesis “Enhancing immune cell reconstitution with genetically engineered Tcell precursors” in Dr.van den Brink’s lab at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), NY and received both medical and doctoral degree (MD/ from Freiburg University, Germany. During her first years as a surgical resident in the Department of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery at the University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland, Dr Bruestle continued her research work on the role of regulatory T cells in transplantation in an orthotopic murine lung transplant model. She received the Filling the Gap award, successfully acquired research grants, published and presented at national and international conferences.

She came to work on transplant tolerance in a non-human primate model at the Columbia Center for Translational Immunology (CCTI) under mentorship of Dr Griesemer and Dr Sykes. For her work on inducing immune tolerance with autologous expanded regulatory T cells in a kidney transplant model, she received among others the Community of Transplant Scientists Award and the award for Best Presentation in Basic Science at the Columbia Department of Surgery Research Symposium 2021. Her work on tracking T cells with the help of immuno-PET in a primate kidney transplant model was recognized as one of the most influential abstracts of the American Transplant Congress in their section “what’s hot what’s new – basic science”.

Her current research projects on transplant tolerance induction using kidney and heart primate transplant models at the Columbia Center for Translational Immunology were recently recognized with the Nelson Transplant Innovation Award. With the help of the John Jones Fellowship at Columbia, she is working on translating the immuno-PET for cardiac allografts. Karina is thrilled about the clinical and research opportunities at Columbia and hopes to solidify her career as a surgeon-scientist.

8th John Jones Research Fellow (2021-2022)
William “Clinton” Erwin, MD

William “Clinton” Erwin, MDMentor: Giovanni Ferrari, PhD, Associate Professor of Surgery and Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University. Scientific Director of the Cardiothoracic Research Program at Columbia University, and leading Principal Investigator of the Columbia Biobank for Translational Science (CBTS), in the Department of Surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Dr. William “Clinton” Erwin, is the recipient of the 8th John Jones Research Fellowship (2021-2022), for his research entitled, Mechanisms of acute myocardial injury and chronic damage to the cardiovascular system in COVID-19 patients under the tutelage of Dr. Giovanni Ferrari in the Department of Surgery at Columbia.

Dr. Erwin is currently a third year resident in the Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgery Program, in the Department of Surgery at New York Presbyterian-Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Clinton was born and raised near Birmingham, Alabama. Where he attended Gardendale high school, and finished as valedictorian. He then studied Biology and Spanish at the University of Alabama, and after completion of his undergraduate studies, taught elementary school English in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain. He became interested in cardiothoracic surgery under the research guidance of Drs. David Cleveland and Robert Dabal during medical school at University of Alabama, Birmingham; undertaking projects on outcomes after Fontan operation, as well ECMO in the adult population.

Following graduation, Clinton was accepted into the Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgery Program at Columbia University, where he has been active in writing a book chapter on coarctation of the aorta, as well as involved in extensive COVID-19 care. He was part of a team that published data on the safety and efficacy of tracheostomy in COVID-19 patients.

As a result of the pandemic, the opportunity has arisen to study acute myocardial injury and chronic cardiovascular systemic damage that is linked to COVID. He will undertake this project with the financial support of the John Jones Surgical Society, under the guidance of Dr. Giovanni Ferrari.

7th John Jones Research Fellow (2020-2021) 
Joshua C. Leinwand, MD, MSE

Joshua C. Leinwand, MD, MSEMentor: Joshua I. Weiner, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Abdominal Organ Transplantation and Principal Investigator, Columbia Center for Translational Immunology, at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Dr. Josua C. Leinwand, is the recipient of the 7th John Jones Research Fellowship (2020-2021), for his research entitled, Defining microbiomes of the digestive system in patients undergoing Whipple procedures under the tutelage of Dr. Joshua Weiner in the Division of Abdominal Organ Transplantation at Columbia.

Dr. Leinwand is currently a 4th year resident in the General Surgery residency at NewYork Presbyterian-Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Josh Leinwand is a Brooklyn native and graduate of Brooklyn College and Yale Medical School. He was President of the Yale Medical Student Council, and received academic awards from the Yale Department of Surgery and the Connecticut Chapter of the American College of Surgeons. During medical school, Josh spent a year as a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellow studying the pharmacokinetics of intraperitoneal chemotherapy for the treatment of malignant peritoneal mesothelioma in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Columbia, collaborating closely with faculty in the Department of Surgery and resulting in several publications and awards for medical student research. He was delighted to match at Columbia for General Surgery, and during his residency has co-authored several manuscripts on the treatment of mesothelioma under the mentorship of Dr. John Chabot and Dr. Michael Kluger.

After his first 3 years of General Surgery residency at Columbia, Josh completed a Master’s Degree in Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania followed by a post-doctoral research fellowship studying tumor immunology and microbiome in Dr. George Miller’s lab at New York University. During his time in the lab, Josh was funded by an NIH T32 grant and received funding from the Americas Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association. His research in the Miller lab on the role of intracellular pH in tumor-infiltrating T cells was awarded the Blakemore Award for best presentation at the 2019 Columbia Department of Surgery Research Symposium.

Josh returned from research as a 4th year General Surgery resident in June 2020 and is applying for a Surgical Oncology fellowship. His clinical interests are in hepatopancreatobiliary surgery and peritoneal surface disease. His current research projects relate to the tumor microenvironment in primary cancers and the metastatic and pre-metastatic niche, with a particular focus on microbe-host interactions and their implications for immunotherapy. Josh hopes to build an active surgical practice and engage in basic and translational research throughout his career.

When he is not working, Josh enjoys spending time with his wife Tali and their children Stella and Henry.

6th John Jones Research Fellow (2018-2019)
Serge S. Kobsa, MD, PhD

Serge S. Kobsa, MD, PhDMentor: Dr. Yoshifumi Naka, Morris & Rose Milstein Professor of Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery

Dr. Kobsa is the recipient of the 6th John Jones Research Fellowship (2018-2019), for his research entitled, Assessment of Shear Stress Effects on Aortic Valve as a Cause of Aortic Regurgitation in Patients Supported with Continuous Flow Left Ventricular Assist Devices under the tutelage of Dr. Yoshifumi Naka, in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Dr. Kobsa is currently a fourth-year resident in the Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgery Program at NYP/Columbia. He is doing research with Drs. Yoshifumi Naka, Koji Takeda and Hiroo Takayama.

Dr. Kobsa was born and raised in Zagreb, Croatia where he attended a math and science magnet high school. After his sophomore year, he moved to the United States as a foreign exchange student and, following his high school graduation, enrolled at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa where he majored in biochemistry and neuroscience. 

In addition to his interest in medicine and surgery, which dates back to his childhood, in college he developed an interest in science and research. Starting after his freshman year, he pursued these interests by doing summer research, first at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, and later at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT in the lab of Robert Sherwin studying brain glucose metabolism. 

Following graduation from college, Dr. Kobsa was accepted to the MD/PhD program at Yale University, as a part of the Medical Scientist Training Program Fellowship. At Yale, his interests shifted toward surgery and he completed his PhD in Biomedical Engineering designing an electrospun nanofiber scaffold capable of highly efficient controlled DNA delivery, and demonstrated its potential as a novel bioactive skin substrate for treatment of cutaneous wounds. In addition, he worked on tissue engineered blood vessels, as well as controlled delivery of growth factor proteins for treatment of liver and pancreas dysfunction. At Yale, he was an avid runner and climber.

Following graduation from the MD and PhD programs at Yale, Dr. Kobsa came to Columbia as a categorical resident in the General Surgery Program. After completing his PGY-2 year, he transferred to the Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgery Program, where he is currently a fourth-year resident. His interests are primarily in the area of heart failure and mechanical support, and he is a part of a team investigating left ventricular device (LVAD)-induced changes in fluid-dynamic environment of the aortic valve, and how these changes are associated with alterations of the valve. The objectives of this research are to demonstrate the correlation between the LVAD-induced fluid dynamics on the aortic valve and protein expression in the tissues of the aortic valve. This knowledge has the potential to inform future left ventricular assist device design and development and lead to improved clinical outcomes for patients in end-stage heart failure.

5th John Jones Research Fellow (2017-2018)
Scott C. DeRoo, MD

Scott C. DeRoo, MDMentor: Isaac George. MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Dr. Scott C. DeRoo is the recipient of the 5th John Jones Research Fellowship (2017-2018), for his research entitled, Assessment of Frailty in Cardiac Surgery, under the tutelage of Dr. Isaac George, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Dr. DeRoo has completed three years of integrated cardiothoracic residency at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and is currently doing research in the lab with Drs. Isaac George and Hiroo Takayama. 

Dr. DeRoo was born in Danvers, Massachusetts and grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. After high school he attended Colgate University in Hamilton, New York where he majored in molecular biology and was a 4-year member of the cross-country, indoor, and outdoor track teams. During his time there Scott participated in two summers of research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute where he worked to help understand dysregulated cell signaling in pancreas cancer and leukemia. After college Scott attended medical school at the University of Michigan, where he was selected as the recipient of a 1-year Howard-Hughes medical student research fellowship. During this time Scott utilized genome and transcriptome sequencing to help identify novel molecular targets in breast, lung, and prostate cancer. After graduating medical school Scott continued his training in cardiothoracic surgery at Columbia University in New York City where he has been conducting outcomes research on mechanical circulatory support and frailty in cardiac surgery.

4th John Jones Research Fellow (2015-2016)
Dustin J. Carpenter, MD, MPH

Dustin J. Carpenter, MD, MPHMentor: Donna Farber, PhD., Professor of Surgical Sciences (in Surgery) and Microbiology and Immunology at the Columbia Center for Translational Immunology at Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Dustin J. Carpenter was the recipient of the 4th John Jones Research Fellowship (2015-2016), for his research entitled, Immunologic consequences of brain death: cytokine, myeloid, and lymphoid data throughout the body and across the lifespan, under the tutelage of Dr. Donna Farber.

Dr. Carpenter has completed three years of general surgery residency training at Columbia and is currently a Postdoctoral Residency Fellow in Dr. Farber’s lab at the Columbia Center for Translational Immunology (CCTI). He is part of a team working to develop a temporal and spatial understanding of the human immune system. Towards this end, he will be a co-investigator on a project that seeks to develop the first whole-body, immunological profile of brain death in humans. They will then analyze the relationship between these donors’ immunological profiles to their solid organ transplant outcomes (e.g., ischemia-reperfusion injury, acute and chronic rejection, graft survival). To do this analysis, they will draw from and build on the expertise gained from the Farber lab’s longstanding research collaboration with LiveOnNY, the organ procurement organization for the NY metropolitan area.

In coordination with LiveOnNY, the Farber lab studies multiple blood, lymphoid, and mucosal tissue samples obtained from research-consented organ donors at the time of lifesaving organ procurement. With this unique access to pre-transplant organ donors and their tissues, they will be able to:

  • Collect and analyze an unprecedented amount of information to answer previously unanswerable questions about the human immune system and transplant immunology.
  • Analyze donors’ cytokine profiles, identify and characterize the passenger leukocytes that are transported with the organ at the time of donation, and compile the lab’s previously collected myeloid and lymphoid composite cell data from multiple tissue sites throughout the body.
  • Correlate these findings with multiple donor clinical parameters (cause of death, cardiac arrest, presence of infection, use of steroids, etc.) that occur in donors prior to transplantation.

The combination of these donors’ clinical, cytokine, and cellular data will help them understand why certain organ donors develop a pro-inflammatory environment leading to rejection while others foster a more tolerogenic milieu. This could lead to key insights that would change treatment of donor organs prior to transplantation in order to prevent rejection and lessen post-operative immunosuppression. These findings should have implications for all fields of transplantation.

Dr. Carpenter will also be involved in a number of clinical research projects with several attending surgeons in the department of transplantation.

Dustin graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2006 with a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. He earned his medical degree from Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO. graduating with distinction in research. While at medical school he was elected by fellow medical students to the Arnold P. Gold Humanism Honor Society.  In between his third and fourth years of medical school, he obtained an MPH from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health where he was awarded the Top Student Paper Award (national), from the American Public Health Association, Injury Control and Emergency Health Services section

Dusty has a keen interest in wrestling. In 2002, he was awarded Scholastic Wrestler of the Year by the Illinois Wrestler’s and Coach’s Association (IWCOA), an award given to the all-state wrestler who demonstrates the highest level of academic achievement.

In his spare time Dusty continues to participate in wrestling and enjoys running, reading as well as traveling. His latest hobby is finding NYC's best cheeseburger.

3rd John Jones Research Fellow (2014-2015)
Kazuki N. Sugahara, MD, PhD

Kazuki N. Sugahara, MD, PhDMentor: Dr. Michael Kluger, Assistant Professor of Surgery, GI Endocrine Surgery, in the Department of Surgery

Dr. Kazuki Sugahara was the recipient of the 3rd John Jones Research Fellowship. He was in his 2nd year of the surgical residency program.

Dr. Sugahara’s professional career started in Japan. He earned his MD from Shiga University of Medical Science in 1999, trained in surgery for several years, and earned his PhD in Cancer Biology from the Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine in 2005. He then moved to San Diego, CA, to join the Erkki Ruoslahti laboratory at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute for his postdoctoral research training. After publishing a number of papers in journals such as Science, Cancer Cell, and PNAS, Dr. Sugahara started his career as a Principal Investigator at Sanford-Burnham. He has also been a Clinical Visitor at the Department of Surgery, University of California in San Diego, to facilitate collaboration with their Surgical Oncology team. In 2014, Dr. Sugahara moved to Columbia University with his laboratory to join the General Surgery residency program. Currently, Dr. Sugahara is a PGY2 in the program, and runs his laboratory located in the Irving Cancer Research Center.

Dr. Sugahara studies tumor-targeting drug delivery systems based on peptides. His goal is to accomplish tumor-specific drug delivery to obtain maximal anti-cancer effects with minimal side effects.

Dr. Sugahara and colleagues have discovered a novel class of peptides, tumor-penetrating peptides, which target tumor blood vessels through systemic circulation, and subsequently spread widely into the tumor tissue. The peptides deliver deep into tumor tissue drugs chemically attached to the peptides and even free drugs co-administered with the peptides, providing a simple and effective way to improve the therapeutic index of various forms of anti-neoplastic drugs, such as small chemicals, antibodies, and nanoparticle formulations. An important goal of Dr. Sugahara’s research is to facilitate clinical translation of the tumor-penetrating peptides by further understanding the tissue-penetration mechanism, uncovering novel biological effects, and establishing safety and efficacy of the peptides, particularly in patients with fibrotic tumors such as pancreatic cancer. In addition, he aims to broaden the application of the peptides to intraperitoneal drug delivery systems, which target peritoneal carcinomatosis (this project is partly supported by the John Jones Award). He also continues to discover novel peptides that target various pathologies of cancer based on advanced phage display methodologies

Ongoing outcomes of Dr. Sugahara’s research

2nd John Jones Research Fellow (2013-2014)
Joshua Weiner, MD

Henry Spotnitz, Joshua Weiner, Jose GuillemMentor: Dr. Adam Griesemer Assistant Professor of Surgery, Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation, in the Department of Surgery.

Dr. Joshua Weiner was the recipient of the 2nd John Jones Research Fellowship.

At the time, Josh had completed three years of general surgery residency at Columbia and was in the first of two years in the lab. His research focuses on 1) regulatory T cell-mediated B cell tolerance across the xenogeneic barrier (the subject of the John Jones Award) with Dr. Adam Griesemer, 2) changes in the balance of donor versus recipient leukocyte populations in the gut after intestinal transplantation with Drs. Megan Sykes and Tomoaki Kato, and 3) the relationship of genetic similarities between donor and recipient in liver transplantation on recurrence of autoimmune liver disease with Dr. Jean Emond.

More About This Fellow
Ongoing outcomes of Dr. Weiner's research

1st John Jones Research Fellow (2012-2013)
Connie Hong-Hung Keung, MD

Steven Libutti, Connie H. Keung, Henry SpotnitzMentors: Dr. Jessica Kandel (R. Peter Altman Professor and Interim Chief, Pediatric Surgery Division), Dr June Wu (Assistant Professor, Division of Plastic Surgery).

Dr. Connie H. Keung was the recipient of the first John Jones Research Fellowship for her research entitled "Lymphatic malformations (imaging and treatment)" under the tutelage of Drs. Jessica Kandel (R. Peter Altman Professor and Interim Chief, Pediatric Surgery Division) and June Wu (Assistant Professor, Division of Plastic Surgery).

At that time, Connie, was a 3rd year resident in General Surgery at New York Presbyterian-Columbia Campus, doing a 2 year Clinical ECMO and Research Fellowship in the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and International Relations from Wheaton College (2000-2004), she attended the Medical School for International Health at Ben-Gurion University, in collaboration with Columbia University, where she received her medical degree in 2009.

Connie aspires to focus on pediatric surgery and global health in her future career.

Despite the rigors of study, she finds time to prepare and participate in triathlons.