Research Laboratories

Lidsky Research Laboratory

Dr. Lidsky is the Director of HPB Research at Duke University. He leads the Surgical Oncology Research Group, which was initiated by Dr. Blazer. This group, consisting of surgical oncology faculty, surgery trainees, and medical students, meets monthly to review ongoing research projects that utilize local and national datasets to study cancers of the liver, biliary tree, and pancreas, gastric cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, peritoneal malignancies, and melanoma, in additional to pre-malignant conditions such as intrapapillary mucinous neoplasms.

Pancreatic Cancer Research Laboratory

Dr. Allen’s laboratory focuses on translational research in the realm of pancreatic disease and cancer. The main focus of the laboratory is in studying a cystic precursor lesion of pancreatic adenocarcinoma called Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasm (IPMN). These cysts can occur in the main pancreatic duct as well as in the branch ducts of the pancreas. 

Research Laboratories by Discipline/Specialty

Cancer Initiation and Cancer Cell Behavior Lab

Somatic mutations drive phenotypic changes in cellular behaviors. Mutations to cancer causing tumor driver genes may be acquired years, if not decades before clinical diagnosis of cancer. What happens to the cell and how collective tissue behaviors shape the trajectory of a lethal cancer during a prolonged occult tumorigenic phase is a great mystery. Our lab has developed a set of mouse tools for illuminating the earliest initiation phase of cancer. Our primary objective is to map the cellular events and biochemical interactions at work during the initiation phase of cancer in order to discover strategies for the prevention or treatment of lethal cancers.

Determinants of Progression in Early Breast and Ovarian Cancer

Research efforts led by Jeffrey Marks, PhD, and E. Shelley Hwang, MD, MPH, focus on the earliest stages of breast cancer. Working at the center of multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary projects on the disease, the Marks-Hwang laboratory studies the genetics, microenvironment, and evolution of early breast cancer. We are studying primary human ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) lesions that have not progressed to invasive cancer and comparing these to lesions that have progressed to invasive and metastatic disease.

Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapeutics Laboratory

Our laboratory studies immunity and inflammation in the context of developing and established cancers. These research interests involve the investigation of immune regulation in cancer and strategies to modulate innate and adaptive immunity against tumors. In these efforts, we principally explore the use of immunotherapeutic modulators against cancer and the development of vaccines and antibodies to specific oncogenic targets.

Cardiothoracic Surgery Translational Research Laboratory

The Cardiothoracic Surgery Translational Research Laboratory investigates a number of questions relevant to cardiac surgery, heart failure, cardiac transplantation, and mechanical circulatory support. Translational research is conducted utilizing clinical specimens obtained through the Duke Human Heart Repository and large and small animal models. The lab has expertise and experience with molecular assays, cell culture studies, tissue banking, biomarker development, viral based gene therapy, and large animal models of disease states.

Duke Center for Aortic Disease Research Program

To further our understanding of the pathophysiology of aortic diseases, develop better surgical and non-surgical treatments, and improve short- and long-term outcomes after thoracic aortic surgery.

Mechanical Support for Heart and Lung Disease Research

Duke researchers, including Jacob Klapper, MD, and Benjamin Bryner, MD, are investigating the use of mechanical circulatory support for individuals with acute treatable conditions causing lung or heart failure. Duke has developed multiple research programs in physiology, immunology, vascular biology, hematology, cellular and molecular biology, focusing on the effect of mechanical circulatory support systems.

Laboratory for Transformative Administration (LTA)

The Laboratory for Transformative Administration (LTA) uses data science methods on health system data to construct testable hypotheses around health system quality, cost, and operations and then implement solutions to improve resource allocation and quality of patient care. Put succinctly; we remove systemic barriers to surgical care.

Environmental Health Scholars Program

Home to multiple high-power universities, agencies, corporations, and non-profit organizations, the Triangle Area presents an ideal environment for stimulating productive, synergistic, activity exploring environmental aspects of health. Members of the Duke School of Medicine (DSOM) together with investigators at the Duke Nicholas School of the Environment (NSOE), the Duke Law of School, the Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy, and other Duke institutes and centers have a history of involvement in both basic and population research arenas.

DataLab for Clinical Care & Population Health

The DataLab utilizes epidemiology, research-design principles, biostatistics, and computational data-science methods. Our clinical focus is on health and health care related to pediatric conditions, particularly congenital anomalies that require complex, multidisciplinary care.

Fibrosis and Wound Healing

This laboratory investigates the mechanisms of fibrosis and tissue remodeling and aims to develop a novel small molecule inhibitor to prevent fibrocontractile disease progression. There is a large unmet need for an effective pharmaceutical to prevent fibrosis.

Frank Hawkins Kenan Plastic Surgery Research Laboratories

The Frank Hawkins Kenan Plastic Surgery Research Laboratories have expertise in biomaterials, microencapsulation, biosensors, wound healing, and the tissue response to implanted devices. Investigators perform both pre-clinical and clinical studies. 

BAM: Breast and More

As an active breast surgeon, Dr. Plichta’s research largely focuses on clinical outcomes, including Breast and More (BAM!). Topics of interest include: breast cancer genetics, breast cancer risk, breast atypia, breast cancer in the elderly, breast surgery, and metastatic breast cancer (MBC).

The Duke Endocrine Neoplasia Research Group

The Duke Endocrine Neoplasia Research Group is committed to providing high-quality research and training in the field of Endocrine Neoplasia. The multidisciplinary nature of this group makes it ideal to tackle the pressing issues of endocrine neoplasms and work toward bridging gaps in patient care at the individual and population levels.

Phyllodes Tumor Research (PHYTR) Laboratory

Phyllodes tumors are rare breast tumors and represent fewer than 1.0% of all primary breast tumors. Most National Comprehensive Cancer Centers treat only about 5-10 phyllodes tumors annually, making collaborative research in this area vital. Dr. Rosenberger and her multi-disciplinary team treat approximately 20-30 women with phyllodes annually at Duke and focus on advancing our understanding of these tumors.

Antiviral Drug Discovery Laboratory

The Laboratory of Antiviral Drug Discovery conducts research for the development of novel therapeutics against HIV-1 and influenza viruses.

Cardiovascular Biology Laboratory

The Cardiovascular Biology Laboratory, under the direction of Bruce Sullenger, is focused on multidisciplinary translational research approaches to the study of blood coagulation, inflammation, and atherogenesis at the molecular level. Novel anti-coagulation approaches developed within the program are presently undergoing pre-clinical and clinical evaluation. Ongoing studies are aimed at exploring molecular therapeutic approaches in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Cell Death Laboratory

The research group, under the direction of Dr. Gayathri Devi, focuses on translational and clinical applications of programmed cell death signaling. Cell death is a critical process in tissue sculpting, adult cell homeostasis, for destruction of damaged cells and in pathobiology. We are, in particular, interested in elucidating molecular mechanisms of stress-induced cell survival/death signaling in normal and cancer cells and how this process regulates immune response.

Center for Applied Therapeutics

The Center for Applied Therapeutics encompasses a broad array of research activities involved in the development, preclinical testing, and clinical testing of novel therapies targeting cancer or precancerous conditions.  Collectively, the Center for Applied Therapeutics consists of over 30 individuals ranging from senior scientists to post-doctoral fellows, which serves as a robust environment for research activity in a broad array of applied therapeutics.

Immune Responses and Virology Laboratory

The Laboratory of Immune Responses and Virology is led by Georgia Tomaras, PhD, Director of Research at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. Dr. Tomaras' overall research program is to understand the cellular and humoral immune response to HIV-1 infection and vaccination that are involved in protection from HIV-1.

Immunologic Signatures Laboratory

The Immune Signatures Laboratory, under the Direction of Dr. Kent J. Weinhold, is the academic home for the Duke Immune Profiling Core (DIPC), a School of Medicine Shared Resource. In addition to their ongoing HIV/AIDS research projects, the laboratory is presently focused on utilizing a comprehensive repertoire of highly standardized and formerly validated assay platforms to profile the human immune system in order to identify immunologic signatures that predict clinical outcomes. These are the very same assay platforms that have proven extraordinarily useful in profiling immunologic changes during acute and chronic HIV infection as well as in the context of elite virologic control.

Immunology, Inflammation, and Immunotherapy Laboratory

The research in our laboratory focuses on the designing and testing of novel vaccines against cancer and viral infections using murine and human assay systems. In a pioneering study, our group demonstrated that dendritic cells, pulsed with unfractionated total RNA isolated from tumor cells, stimulates tumor immunity both in murine tumor models and in vitro human assays. A large number of our pre-clinical strategies have been translated into Phase I clinical trials in cancer patients. The focus and challenge of our laboratory, both at the preclinical and clinical level, is to augment the clinical benefit associated with immunotherapy.

Innate and Adaptive Cellular Cytotoxicity Laboratory

The overall goal of the laboratory is to understand the ontogeny of HIV-1 specific MHC class I-restricted and non-restricted immune responses that work by eliminating HIV-1 infected cells and how these can be induced by AIDS vaccine candidates. The studies gravitate around class I-mediated cytotoxic CD8+ T cell responses, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), gene expression in effector cellular subsets, and development of Ab-based molecules that can engage cytotoxic effector subsets.

Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research and Development

Dr. Montefiori’s major research interests are viral immunology and HIV vaccine development, with a special emphasis on neutralizing antibodies. One of his highest priorities is to identify immunogens that generate broadly neutralizing antibodies for inclusion in vaccines. Many aspects of neutralizing antibodies are studied in his laboratory, including mechanisms of neutralization, viral escape from neutralization, epitope diversity among the many different genetic subtypes and geographic distributions of the virus, neutralization epitopes, and the requirements to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies by vaccination.

Duke Ex-Vivo Organ Laboratory (DEVOL)

The focus of our laboratory is the development of novel strategies to enhance the function of high-risk transplanted organs. At present, much of our work involves the use of ex vivo organ perfusion technology, in which the graft is maintained in a metabolically active state outside the body. This platform provides the opportunity to assess the viability of the organ and to deliver therapeutic treatments to enhance graft function. 

Immune Management Laboratory

When patients receive an organ transplant, they must take immunosuppressive medications for life to prevent rejection. These drugs are incompletely effective and cause significant morbidity. My research is directed toward understanding transplant rejection and translating this understanding into less morbid therapies for transplant recipients. 

Knechtle Lab

Two unsolved problems in organ transplantation are 1) injury caused by antibody directed at the donor organ; and 2) recurrence of autoimmune disease after transplantation. Neither of these immunologic injuries is well addressed by current immunosuppressive therapy, and both prevent successful long-term allograft function. Our laboratory works in animal models to address the first of these problems and is engaged in human clinical trials to address the second. 

Vascularized Composite Allograft Laboratory

Vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA) refers to the transplantation of multiple tissues, such as skin, muscle, tendon, nerve, and bone, as a functional unit (e.g. a hand, the abdominal wall). Several recent advances in clinical organ transplant immunosuppression and experimental VCA have now made it feasible to consider clinical VCA for functional restoration in patients with the loss of one or both hands or large tissue defects that may not be reconstructed with autologous tissue. Our research facilitates the translation of VCA from the bench to the bedside.

The Kasotakis Pulmonary Inflammation Laboratory

Our research group, under the direction of Dr. George Kasotakis, focuses on the study and application of key concepts in pulmonary inflammation, running the gamut of basic science, translational, and clinical applications. Pulmonary inflammation is a critical process in clearing lung infections and in helping healing after injurious processes; however, uncontrolled levels of it may be harmful to the host, not unlike sepsis. 

Vascular Surgery Research Laboratory

The Vascular Surgery Research Laboratory is directed by Jeffrey Lawson, MD, PhD, and is actively pursuing basic, translational, and clinical research activities related to the fields of blood coagulation, vascular biology, and vascular surgery.