Resident Research Opportunities:


The general surgery training program is a 5 year program with an option to take additional years devoted to research. Although an option, we expect that up to half of each resident class will exercise this option, and thus there will be an approximately 50% chance that any given resident will take additional years for research. Research years are typically taken after completion of the PGY-3 year but can be initiated after the PGY-2 year. There are opportunities to pursue research projects in a variety of ways including both basic and clinical projects. Several of the faculty in the Department of Surgery have federally funded research laboratories. Our residents are encouraged to seek positions in their labs as a priority if they desire to perform basic science research. There are extensive patient data bases in both surgical oncology and trauma that can be analyzed to produce clinical data. Prospective clinical trials are more difficult to manage but opportunities exist to be involved with these, although timing is of the essence to be able to present and publish results. Resident can also pursue advanced degrees in basic science, public health, and business. Over the last thirty years, several residents have completed their doctorate in physiology under the guidance of Drs. Garrison and Polk, and faculty in the Department of Physiology. The CREST program offers several degrees in public health that our residents have completed in the past and continue to pursue. One of each class of residents has chosen to pursue the one year surgical critical care fellowship under the direction of Dr. Franklin over the last decade. Please see Research section for further details.

Basic science research opportunities:

Dr. Cheadle: located at the VA, his research has revolved around the early innate immune response to peritonitis including microbial tolerance. He has mentored 16 fellows/residents over the last twenty years.

Dr. Galandiuk (Price Institute): She is the Director of the Price Institute of Surgical Research and head of the Digestive Surgery Research Laboratory. Located in the Price Institute in the MDR building, her lab has focused on the genetic predisposition to inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer. Her current fellow Ziad Kanaan is completing his doctorate in physiology this year.

Dr. Harbrecht: located in the MDR building, his research has centered on the role of insulin control of NO production in hepatocytes with funding from the NIH. His current fellow has just begun a two year fellowship.

Dr. Ildstad: The Institute of Cellular Therapeutics is located in the Baxter II building and houses a number of labs with the central focus on emphasis is on use of adult stem cells from bone marrow and manipulation of immune system cells to treat a variety of human diseases. Please visit for further information.

Dr. Martin: located in the Price Institute in the MDR building, his research has focused on the predisposing factors to reflux induced esophageal cancer and is funded by the NIH. His current fellow is Russ Farmer (PGY IV).

Dr. McMasters: located in the Clinical and Translational Research building, our chairman directs basic investigation into the genetics of oncogenesis in collaboration with Dr. Zhou.

Dr. Polk (Price Institute): located in the MDR building, his lab has had a long standing interest in host defense against bacterial infections. His fellows typically spend three years in the lab and have all completed their doctorates in physiology over the last 15 years.

Dr. Slaughter (Cardiovascular Institute): This lab is located next to the MDR building and houses a number of investigators whose projects involve a variety of studies of cardiovascular disease including monitoring, ventricular assist devices, and transplantation. See for further information.

Drs. Smith and Garrison: located at the VA, their lab has focused on the microcirculation and its response to sepsis in several organs including cremaster muscle, small intestine, kidney, liver, and lung. They also have clinical studies ongoing with direct peritoneal resuscitation to limit edema and organ failure in critically ill patients.

Advanced Degrees in Basic Science:

Surgical residents have the opportunity to pursue advanced basic science degrees (Masters, Ph.D.) and have done so with subsequent successful academic careers. Virtually all have done so through a cooperative program between the Departments of Surgery and Physiology. One program entails two years of course work and research in the area of organ microcirculation under the direction of Drs. Garrision, Harris, Joshua and Miller. Typically, residents have completed three years of clinical training, and then move into the research laboratory for two years.

Ultimately they will finish the thesis and dissertation before the completion of residency, and be awarded their doctorate coinciding with completion of their surgical training. Seventeen surgical residents and trauma/critical care fellows have participated in this program over the last 20 years, and 8 completed their doctorates. More information about this program can be obtained by contacting Dr. Garrison directly. Other advanced degree opportunities are offered to Research Fellows through the Department of Physiology & Biophysics in the areas of surgical immunology, host defense, and molecular biology.

Clinical science research opportunities:

Virtually all of the faculty are engaged in clinical research projects including retrospective studies and prospective clinical trials that follow their particular disciplines. Many of these are highlighted in the clinical funding and other funding sections of the Research section.

Individualized Research:

Residents may choose to work with several faculty in the course of performing both basic and/or clinical research including the pursuit of advanced degrees. Several residents have chosen to obtain a Master of Public Health or Master of Science degree from the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences. Most residents who take time off for one or two years of dedicated research will be active in both clinical and basic science research with their surgical faculty mentors. The areas available for study with dedicated faculty mentors are quite diverse. Recently, residents have been part of collaborative efforts studying lung cancer and metabolism, novel liver cancer therapeutics, gene therapy for cancer, novel animal models and imaging modalities for pancreatic cancer and melanoma, large animal models for cardiac assist devices and lung transplantation, and clinical and basic science research evaluating the efficacy of peritoneal resuscitation for organ donors. Many of these efforts have been multi-disciplinary efforts across multiple departments in the School of Medicine.

Resident Research Requirement:

All residents are required to produce two manuscripts submitted for publication prior to competing their chief year. These may be basic or clinical papers, and although separate case reports are encouraged, these will not be counted towards this requirement. All residents should have chosen a faculty member to mentor them through the research process by the end of their PGY-2 year. Completion of required research educational modules should also be accomplished by the end of the PGY-2 year, so projects can be submitted for approval in a timely fashion.