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Research Laboratories

Pipette and test tubes

Advanced Oncologic and Gastrointestinal Surgery

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.

Cancer Biology

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.

Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery

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.

Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Biology Laboratory

Chronic lung allograft dysfunction (CLAD) is often associated with early ischemia-reperfusion injury and/or repetitive aspiration-related lung injury as a result of gastroesophageal reflux. Dr. Shu Lin’s laboratory has developed an experimental rat model of pulmonary orthotopic transplantation and experimentally induced chronic aspiration that captures the clinical milieu in several important aspects. His ongoing studies have revealed that the development of obliterative bronchiolitis in this model, a major cause of CLAD in patients, is dependent on a three-hit injury involving (a) ischemia-reperfusion injury, (b) alloimmunity, and (c) chronic aspiration.

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 Mani A. Daneshmand, 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.

Head and Neck Surgery and Communication Sciences

Computational Modeling Research Lab

Our laboratory combines computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling with three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction to investigate pathophysiology of the ear, nose and throat, as well as the effects of pathologic abnormality on normal functioning of the ear, nose, and throat.

Human Motor Performance Laboratory

Our research focuses on the study of normal and disordered motor function to enhance understanding of pathophysiology, develop behavioral interventions, and identify optimal outcome measures. For example, in subjects with late-onset Pompe disease (LOPD), we were first to describe lingual pathophysiology manifesting as generalized tongue weakness in this population. Our work has established that lingual pathophysiology occurs commonly in LOPD and that this has functional effects on speech and swallowing.

Plastic Surgery

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.

Tissue Engineering and Implantable Devices

Research in this laboratory focuses on endothelial cell adhesion to vascular grafts, implantable glucose sensors for diabetics, glaucoma drainage device, and xerogel coating of implants.

Surgical Sciences

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.

Endocrine Neoplasia Laboratory

In collaboration with Dr. Julie Sosa, the Endocrine Neoplasia Laboratory employs a combination of molecular, murine modeling, and live-cell imaging approaches to examine the underlying mechanisms of disrupted calcium sensing in parathyroid tumors. Our group has shown recently that parathyroid adenomas are comprised of functionally discrete and separable cellular subpopulations that respond differentially to extracellular calcium stimulation and that arise in many cases following polyclonal expansion of progenitor cells within the parathyroid gland.

Immune Dysfunction and Evolutionary Mismatch Laboratory

The primary focus of our laboratory, directed by William Parker, deals with the concept of “evolutionary mismatch” and how that affects immune function in the modern world. An evolutionary mismatch is simply described as a condition in which an organism’s current environment leads to disease because it does not match the environment which drove the evolution of that organism’s genes.

Immune Mechanisms of Disease Pathogenesis Laboratory

The Immune Mechanisms of Disease Pathogenesis laboratory, led by John S. Yi, Ph.D., is focused on developing a comprehensive understanding of the cell-mediated immune responses to diseases spanning from cancer to autoimmune diseases. This disease spectrum is an example of the benefits and consequences of the immune response and the critical balance that is required to achieve immune homeostasis.

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.

Transplantation

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). 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.

Urology

Duke University Urinary Dysfunction Laboratory

Our lab focuses on projects that have direct relevance to disorders that are regularly encountered by practicing urologists in the clinic. We are particularly interested in benign urologic disease caused by inflammation in the bladder. We have shown that nod-like receptors (NLRs) and the inflammasomes they form are present in the bladder epithelia where they serve as sensors of sterile damage and potentially bacterial infection.

Laboratory of Neurourology

The Laboratory of Neurourology is headed by Matthew O. Fraser, PhD, and focuses on pelvic visceral function and dysfunction. Dr. Fraser is a classically trained physiologist and a neuroscientist (dual degree PhD). In addition to further elucidating the physiology of pelvic viscera, the laboratory is heavily involved in therapeutic development efforts, including pharmacological, medical devices, cell therapy, and tissue engineering approaches. 

Minimally Invasive Technologies for the Management and Diagnosis of Prostate and Kidney Cancer

The Polascik laboratory's research interests focus on translational programs, namely research projects that can have direct consequences on improving patient care and surgical therapy with emphasis on prostate cancer diagnostics, minimally-invasive prostate cancer ablative therapy, observational management of prostate cancer and racial disparities, and kidney cancer.

Urologic Oncology Laboratory

We are a clinical and translational research team working on cancers of the genitourinary tract. While our group does research pertaining to several different urological cancers, we are particularly interested in bladder and prostate cancer. Our approach to research is highly disease focused, which means that we use a wide variety of research methodologies to investigate a single cancer.

Vascular Surgery

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.