da-vinci-robot-cover-photo-med80_000Research in the Department of Surgery encompasses a broad spectrum of activities that are directed toward improving the quality of our patient care and toward developing novel, innovative therapies. Through investigator-initiated trials, as well as national cooperative group, and industry-funded trials, department faculty are able to offer our patients access to cutting-edge treatments not otherwise available. The increasingly coordinated clinical research effort within the Department will ensure that the discovery continues. Finally, through fundamental basic research into the underlying mechanisms of disease, department faculty are identifying novel avenues of future treatment.

Clinical Trials

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in people aged 60 or older. Until about 5 years ago, few treatment options were available and AMD was considered a blinding disease. With new treatments, specifically the VegF inhibitors, up to 90% of patients can maintain their vision, and up to 30% can actually improve with treatment. For the past 5 years, Brian Kim, MD, and clinical trials coordinator Theresa Goddard, have been able to enroll their patients in a clinical trial of Eylea (VegF-Trap). Recently FDA-approved, Eylea is just as effective as other VegF inhibitors, but is less expensive and requires less frequent treatment, saving the medical system hundreds of millions of dollars per year. “It [Eylea] has recently been FDA-approved just this year. Our patients, however, have had access to this drug since we have been in the study (5 years). Studies like these allow early access for our patients to cutting edge treatments, not available otherwise.” (Brian Kim, MD, Green and Gold Professor of Ophthalmology)

Approximately one third of patients with severe aortic stenosis are not referred for treatment because they are thought to be too high risk for conventional surgical aortic valve replacement. Led by Joseph Schmoker, MD and Harold Dauerman, MD (Cardiology), the Divisions of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Cardiology are collaborating in an effort to enroll patients in a randomized prospective study of transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI). This new technique will offer many of these high-risk patients a treatment option.

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