MSSRP available projects – 2021

DEADLINE FOR MATCHES TO BE COMPLETE IS 4/30/2021


Faculty:  Francine G-Bakelman, MD, PhD
Department:  Medicine and BMG
Contact: 
924-9220, email: fg5q@virginia.edu
Project title: 
Study of oncogenic pathways in Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Project description: 
Our laboratory is focused on the cellular events that underlie the establishment and progression of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Our hypothesis is that gene expression changes during disease establishment and progression facilitate the leukemic phenotype. The gene expression changes are associated with epigenomic changes within gene promoters and other distal regulatory elements in cooperation with pathogenic somatic events (mutations and copy number aberrations). We have several available projects that interested students can participate in.

Projects in the lab can be one of two options:
1. Data analysis to identify oncogenes or tumor suppressors in AML, and assess for gene expression regulatory mechanisms that play a role in AML pathogenesis. This project could be pursued using remote work arrangements. This work will be performed in collaboration with a computational biology faculty member.
2. Experimental approaches utilizing CRISPR technology, cell biology and molecular biology techniques to assess for oncogenic roles of candidate genes in AML cell models.

 


Faculty:  Xudong Joshua Li, MD PhD
Department:  Orthopaedic Surgery
Contact: 
982-4135, email:  xl2n@virginia.edu
Project title: 
Osteoarthritis
Project description:  
Osteoarthritis is a painful disease affecting almost all joints in the body. The inflammatory environment in joint tissues is believed to be the fundamental osteoarthritis pathogenesis and may therefore be the key target to treatment. Unfortunately, available anti-inflammatory drugs for preferable joint injection, such as steroid, growth factors, and hyaluronic acid, are rapidly cleared from the joint space, and they need to be re-administered frequently to maintain a therapeutic effect. The objective of this project is to establish a local nanomaterial delivery platform to disrupt the early inflammatory environment, halt the progression of cartilage degeneration, and alleviate pain. Our nanomaterial platform will provide a long-lasting regimen to effectively treat early joint arthritis.

 


Faculty:  Luke R. Wilkins, MD (2 students requested)
Department:  Radiology
Contact:   
Phone# (517) 902-3328, email:  wilkins@virginia.edu
Project title: 
Embolization
Project description: 
Embolization is a type of procedure where material is delivered through a catheter in an artery and causes cessation of blood flow. This procedure may be used for many different types of conditions and may use many different types of embolization materials (eg. small particles or spheres to occlude blood flow). Embolization can be used to treat trauma, cancer, or bleeding arteries. Our lab has evaluated addition of a cinnamic acid derivative called caffeic acid to embolic particles. Caffeic acid is a naturally occurring compound found in many commonly ingested foods (eg.avocado). Caffeic acid causes elevated intracellular lactate levels and decreased cellular growth and may be used as an alternative to normal chemotherapeutic drugs. The current study will assess the safety, toxicity, and feasibility of caffeic acid during embolization in a woodchuck model of hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer. In addition, we will be evaluating the efficacy of caffeic acid in treating metastatic colorectal carcinoma using hypoxic cell cultures. Students should expect to gain experience in translational research study design, data collection, animal model experimental work, advanced cross-sectional image interpretation, and embolic delivery preparation.

 


Faculty:  Kara Romano, MD
Department:  Radiation Oncology
Contact: 
Phone:  (434) 982-6278, email:  KED7C@virginia.edu
Project title: 
Clinical Outcomes of Radiation Therapy for Gynecologic Cancers
Project description:
We conduct clinical outcomes research for patients with a wide variety of cancers treated at UVA. These projects would focus on women with Gynecologic Cancers, specifically early stage endometrial cancer treated with vaginal cuff brachytherapy. Brachytherapy is technique to deliver radiation. It is also referred to as “internal radiation,” delivered via short outpatient procedures. The technique allows for high radiation dose to the specific organ (in this case – the vaginal cuff after hysterectomy) with relative sparring of the nearby organs at risk.

There are two potential retrospective projects. A student may choose one or both that sound interesting:
1. Patterns of failure after vaginal cuff brachytherapy: We treat 30 – 50 patients each year with adjuvant vaginal cuff brachytherapy (after hysterectomy). This project would involve retrospective chart review and data analysis to evaluate for patterns of recurrence after this treatment. We would also further investigate local recurrences at the vaginal cuff with review of CT imaging and dosimetry from the radiation plan to identify aspects of the radiation treatment plan that may have predicted for recurrence.
2. “Cuff & Chemo” Outcomes: Starting in ~ 2014 many patients with early stage high risk endometrial cancer have been treated with chemotherapy and vaginal cuff brachytherapy. This project would involve retrospective chart review and data analysis to evaluate for patient clinical outcomes (toxicity, recurrence patterns, and survival).

 


Faculty:  Daniel Sheeran, M.D.
Department:  Radiology
Contact:   
Phone:  (434) 924-9401, email:  dps7u@hscmail.mcc.virginia.edu 
Project title:  Chart  Review of Patients Undergoing Mesenteric Angiography
Project description:  
Mesenteric angiography is one of the primary interventions for the treatment of upper and lower GI bleeding. It can serve both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, as long as the site of bleeding can be identified and safely embolized. This identification process requires careful angiography skills and interpretation as well as a bleeding rate sufficient to be identified. CT has become a common more sensitive test to identify site of bleeding or other comorbid diagnoses. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the ability to identify sources of GI bleeding after a positive (for bleeding) CT scan. Specifically, the research project will focus of the negative predictive value of a nonselective angiogram compared to a superselective angiogram to lend insight into the sensitivity and specificity of angiography for GI bleed. The project would encompass a retrospective chart review of patients undergoing mesenteric angiography with associated evaluation of the patient presentation and outcome as well as interpretation of the images and therapy provided. Project would be under direct supervision of faculty in interventional radiology.

 


Faculty:  Rahul Mehta, MBBS, MD
Department:  Medicine/UVA
Contact: Phone: 
 (423) 741-2449, email:  rm3bt@virginia.edu
Project title: 
The Impact of Cardiovascular Risk Factors on Perioperative Mortality and Morbidity in Hip Fracture Surgery
Project description:   
Our principal aim is to conduct a retrospective, single-center chart review of ~300 patients from 2017-2019 who underwent hip fracture surgery, analyze their perioperative and postoperative course for complications and assess impact of cardiovascular risk factors – specifically pulmonary hypertension, perioperative atrial fibrillation, and MINS (myocardial injury after noncardiac surgery). We hope to elucidate, if any, predictive factors for poor postoperative outcomes in the context of this surgical intervention. We anticipate Cox regression analysis and multivariate regression analysis to identify independent factors that impact the stated primary end points in a statistically significant fashion. IRB approval has already been obtained.

Student’s role in the project: Chart review and data analysis, abstract and manuscript preparation.

 


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