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Jun Yan, M.D., Ph.D.

Department Immunologist Discovers Biomarker Warning that Could Save Lives in Fight Against COVID-19

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Department to Offer Vascular Surgery Fellowship

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Trauma Program to Participate in Department of Defense-Funded Clinical Trial Designed to Improve Survival for Trauma Patients

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Dr. Miller

Dr. Miller Named 2020 Faculty Inductee in the Gold Humanism Honor Society

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Pediatric Surgeon Mary Fallat, MD, to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

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From the Chairman

The University of Louisville, Department of Surgery, has a long and proud tradition of excellence. From its inception in 1837, when the University of Louisville served as the premier medical training ground for the western frontier of the United States, the Department. Surgery has been at the forefront of surgical education, patient care, and research.
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Dr. McMasters

Grand Rounds Calendar

Grand Rounds Speaker

Aug 7, 2020:
Topic to be announced

Presentation by:
Dr. Abindra Sigdel

via video teleconferencing

Go to Calendar

Owen Frederick McMasters

For information on Brown Cancer Center Owen's Wish Fund for Cancer Immunotherapy Research, click here .

Direct links to specialties:

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Jun Yan, M.D., Ph.D.

Department Immunologist Discovers Biomarker Warning that Could Save Lives in Fight Against COVID-19

Jun Yan, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Division of Immunology in the Department of Surgery and professor of surgery and microbiology and immunology at the University of Louisville, led a team of researchers in the discovery of an important biomarker that predicts a crisis in COVID-19 patients that could lead to death.

Yan, an immunologist, along with UofL Professor of Anesthesiology Jiapeng Huang, M.D., Ph.D., and M.D./Ph.D. student Samantha Morrissey, Ph.D., conducted a patient study to better understand the most severe cases of COVID-19.

Approximately 20 percent of COVID-19 patients experience severe disease, including pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). In some of these patients, the rapid influx of immune cells to the lungs to fight the infection leads to complications in the lung and blood coagulation disorders, resulting in heart attack, pulmonary embolism, stroke or deep vein thrombosis.

To better understand these serious complications, Yan’s team evaluated levels of various immune cells in blood samples of COVID-19 patients and compared those levels with those of healthy individuals. They discovered that one type of immune cells, low-density inflammatory neutrophils, became highly elevated in some patients whose condition became very severe. This elevation signaled a point of clinical crisis and increased likelihood of death within a few days. Neutrophils are one type of immune cells that serve as the first line of defense in the body. When an individual acquires an infection, neutrophils rush to the site to clear the pathogen causing the infection. However, if their presence is persistent or there is a very high volume of cells at the site of infection, in this case the lungs, they can cause unwanted adverse effects. In the case of patients with severe COVID-19, a blood clotting disorder known as coagulopathy occurred, that can manifest as pulmonary embolism, heart attack or stroke.

The study, published online as a preprint, details shifting levels of these neutrophils and other immune cells through repeated blood samples from study participants, correlated with improvement or worsening of the patients’ condition. If clinicians could detect a rise in these cells, they may be able to provide therapy to prevent the potential life-threatening conditions associated with them.

“Based on this study, we believe that the low-density inflammatory band neutrophil population contributes to COVID-19-associated coagulopathy (CAC) and could be used as a clinical marker to monitor disease status and progression,” Yan said. “Identifying patients who are trending toward a cellular crisis and then implementing early, appropriate treatment could improve mortality rates for severe COVID-19 patients.”

To provide additional clinical options for physicians in addressing these crises, Yan is now working with other researchers at UofL to test potential therapies.

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Vascular 3D image

Department to Offer Vascular Surgery Fellowship

The Division of Vascular Surgery in the Department of Surgery at University of Louisville School of Medicine is proud to announce that we will offer a fellowship in Vascular Surgery in the very near future. Check back here for updates. The Division of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapeutics is a dynamic academic division of the Department of Surgery. It has a tripartite mission that includes the provision of clinical care and services, conduct of clinical and translational research, and education, which includes undergraduate medical, graduate, and continuing medical education.

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Trauma program

Trauma Program to Participate in Department of Defense-Funded Clinical Trial Designed to Improve Survival for Trauma Patients

Dr. Brian Harbrecht, Professor of Surgery in the Department of Surgery at UofL and Director of Trauma Surgery at UofL Hospital, and Dr. Raymond Orthober, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine and Medical Director of Louisville Metro EMS, will lead UofL's participation in a Department of Defense (DOD)-funded clinical trial aimed at improving survival among people who have difficulty breathing after a trauma.

UofL will join nearly two dozen emergency medical service agencies across the country in the prehospital Airway Control Trial (PACT), which is an $8.8 million, four-year study, beginning at the end of 2019 that will test different strategies to help patients breathe at the scene of a trauma to see if one works better than another at increasing survival.

This is an “exception from informed consent” trial, which means that since the trial requires performing a potentially life-saving procedure in traumatically injured patients who are too injured to give consent to the trial, they will be automatically enrolled if they fit the criteria. Once patients are stable, they and/or their families will be notified that they were enrolled, and they can opt out of continued participation at that point. Learn more at https://www.litesnetwork.org/pact-efic/.

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Keith Miller, M.D.

Dr. Miller Named 2020 Faculty Inductee in the Gold Humanism Honor Society

Keith Miller, M.D., assistant professor of surgery in the Department of Surgery, has been named as the 2020 Faculty Inductee in the Gold Humanism Honor Society at the University of Louisville School of Medicne. He presented the keynote address at ceremony, which took place March 2. The mission of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) is to recognize individuals who are exemplars of humanistic patient care and who can serve as role models, mentors, and leaders in medicine. The society is a national cohort of physicians, fellows, residents and medical students who strive to inspire and cultivate humanism within themselves, their peers and their patients.

Keith Miller, MD embodies humanism in medicine. He treats everyone with a level of sincerity, respect and genuine kindness. It doesn’t matter whether you are the president of the hospital or the person cleaning the floors, Dr. Keith Miller knows the names of everyone who works there. He stops and talks to everyone he passes in the hallway to ask how they are doing and about their families.

Dr. Miller’s bedside manner is incredible. He sits and talks with patients and their families as long as needed to put their minds at ease and help them make an informed decisions that he genuinely feels is in their best interest, as well as the most up-to-date, relevant medical options. He has laughed with them; he has cried with them.

Dr. Miller is beloved by his colleagues throughout the hospital. He won our department’s most coveted resident teaching award last year, which is the pinnacle achievement for our teaching faculty. Dr. Miller is very involved in medical education, serving in many roles, including as an academic advisory dean and associate program director for the general surgery residency program. He mentors medical students, residents and fellows on a multitude of research projects. He teaches medical knowledge, judgment, and science. What he teaches that is more important, however, is humanism. Through word, deed, and example, Dr. Keith Miller is the consummate role model for physicians in the care of patients and their families.

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Dr. Fallat

Pediatric Surgeon Mary Fallat, MD, to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Mary Fallat, the Hirikati S. Nagaraj Professor and Chief of Pediatric Surgery in the Department of Surgery at UofL School of Medicine, will receive the Pediatric Trauma Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Fallat will be awarded during the 6th annual meeting of the Pediatric Trauma Society Nov. 13 – 16 in San Diego. She will be the fourth recipient of this award.

Dr. Fallat has been selected for this honor because of her longstanding commitment to improving the care of injured children through system development, research and advocacy. She has promoted a focus on injured children in national pediatric and trauma professional organizations. She has served as a role model locally, nationally, and regionally for those with a career focus in pediatric trauma.

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