Surgery Research Competition

The 23rd Surgery Research Competition was held May 22, 2014 at the NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia campus. According to Henry M. Spotnitz, MD, George H. Humphreys II Professor of Surgery, "The annual Surgical Research Competition demonstrates the enthusiasm and scientific acumen of young investigators determined to push back the frontiers of research. Their work indicates that reduced federal research funding cannot prevent future generations of scientists from pursuing their dream of a better world, powered by advances in science, technology, and medicine."

First and second prizes were awarded for Clinical and Translational Research.

First Prize in Clinical Research:

Steven Horwitz, MD, Henry M. Spotnitz, MD Benefits of Temporary Multisite Pacing after Single Ventricle Palliation.

This is preliminary clinical research intended to lead to an externally funded clinical trial. The purpose is to improve the treatment of "blue babies" with single ventricle heart defects undergoing palliative heart surgery. Though successful surgical strategies have been developed for this condition, most children are critically ill in the postoperative period. This study extends Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT), developed for adult heart failure, into the world of congenital heart surgery. The study demonstrated beneficial trends in improving blood pressure, decreasing intravenous drug requirements to support heart function, improving fluid balance, and chemical indices related to blood flow. The study concludes that the technique is promising and larger studies are needed to determine whether critical illness after surgery can be prevented, with related savings in cost, morbidity, and mortality.

First Prize in Translational Research:

Joshua Weiner, MD, Adam Griesemer, MD Purification, Expansion, and Cryopreservation of Regulatory T Cells for the Induction of Transplantation Tolerance.

This is translational research directed at the goal of tolerance of transplanted organs. This could eliminate transplant rejection as a clinical problem, resulting in life-long acceptance of transplanted organs. Considerable laboratory and conceptual evidence support the idea that donor specific regulatory T cells, or TREGS, are the key to eventual success in achieving immunologic tolerance, in which transplanted tissue or organs are accepted by the body as tissue originating from the recipient. This particular study demonstrates successful techniques for isolating and storing TREGS from baboons.