Ryan Campagna (2017-Present) - General Surgery Resident
Dr. Campagna’s research aims to better define the anatomy, physiology, diagnosis, and treatment of several esophageal disorders. Working under the mentorship of Dr. Eric Hungness and Dr. John Pandolfino, his primary focus is on achalasia, a rare neurodegenerative esophageal motility disorder. Additional areas of investigation include gastroesophageal reflux disease and other non-achalasia esophageal motility disorders. Dr. Campagna also works in the Northwestern Simulation Lab, where he focuses on surgical mastery-learning. He is concomitantly pursuing a masters in medical education during his research time. Dr. Campagna is a postdoctoral fellow under the Gastrointestinal Physiology and Psychology T32 Training Grant.
Edmund Chen (2017-Present) – General Surgery Resident
Dr. Chen’s main research focuses on the newly appreciated role of the gut microbiome to health and disease, working under the guidance of his mentor, Dr. Karen Ho. Recent research has shown that the gut microbiome is involved in the pathogenesis of disease in virtually every organ system, from Alzheimer ’s disease, to hypertension, to obesity. The Ho lab is uniquely focused on the interplay between the gut microbiome and peripheral vascular disease. Specifically, Dr. Chen is investigating how specific high fat diets can change the gut microbiome, and how these changes in the microbiome can, in turn, alter arterial remodeling after vascular interventions. His research utilizes an in vivo model of arterial remodeling and incorporates technology such as flow cytometry and multi-analyte immunoassays. The goal of this work is to further elucidate the important interplay between our diets, the gut microbiome, and human health. During this time, he is also pursuing a graduate certificate in Health Services and Outcomes Research. Dr. Chen is a T32 Postdoctoral Fellow in the Vascular Surgery Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University.
Ryan Ellis (2017-Present) - General Surgery Resident
Dr. Ellis’ research centers on surgical quality improvement and outcomes research pertaining to complex surgical oncology under the guidance of his mentor, Dr. Karl Bilimoria. Specifically, he is focusing on hepatopancreaticobiliary (HPB) surgery and factors associated with adverse outcomes in this patient population. He will also be studying the effects of regionalization of complex surgical care, as well as developing national quality standards for management of patients before and after HPB surgery. In addition, he will be examining what factors drive patients to choose one hospital or surgeon over another prior to having surgery. Dr. Ellis is an American College of Surgeons Clinical Scholar as well as a T32 postdoctoral fellow at the Northwestern Center for Healthcare Studies. He is currently working on a master’s degree in Health Services and Outcomes Research at Northwestern University.
Megan Fracol (2018-Present) - Plastic Surgery Resident
Dr. Fracol’s research interests center around improving breast reconstruction outcomes and immunotherapies for breast cancer. Prior to coming to Northwestern, Dr. Fracol worked in Dr. Brian Czerniecki’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania, where a HER-2 targeted breast cancer vaccine was developed. In this lab, she studied clinical outcomes of patients receiving the vaccine as well as conducted immunologic blood assays to show that patients with certain subsets of breast cancer were less likely to mount immune responses to common breast cancer antigens compared to healthy control subjects. She also showed this same group of women with depressed immune responses in breast cancer were more likely to have worse outcomes. Here at Northwestern, her work focuses on understanding the role of breast implants and subsequent development of breast cancer. It has been shown that women with cosmetic implants actually have lower rates of breast cancer development, prompting analysis into what factors contribute to this decreased risk. Current work involves examining how placement of cosmetic breast implants affect the immune system’s ability to recognize common breast cancer antigens.
Courtney Harris (2018-Present) - General Surgery Resident
With estimates of childhood cancer survival of 80%, awareness of long-term quality of life concerns for survivors has increased. Encompassed in this focus is fertility preservation. Unfortunately some treatment protocols are gonadotoxic, and thus both males and female survivors are more likely to be infertile or have difficulty getting pregnant when compared to their siblings. Dr. Harris’ research aims lie in improving fertility preservation options for prepubertal and young adolescent patients who are diagnosed with both benign and malignant conditions that require gonadotoxic treatments. Her mentors include Dr. Erin Rowell and Dr. Monica Laronda. Specifically, Dr. Harris will be investigating the varying techniques of laparoscopic oophorectomy for ovarian tissue cryopreservation, analyzing its effects on ovarian follicle health and perfecting processing techniques to ensure no tissue is wasted. The overall goal of her research is to create a best practice guideline to ensure the highest quality tissue is cryopreserved and thus give patients the best chance at future fertility restoration. Dr. Harris is currently a Pediatric Surgery Research Fellow at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She is also a Surgical Fellow with the Fertility and Hormone Preservation and Restoration team at Lurie Children’s Hospital.
Katherine Hekman (2017-Present) - Vascular Surgery Resident
Vascular disease—including narrowing and occlusion of blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to the heart, vital organs and extremities—inflicts a significant public health burden for which improved methodologies to model disease, develop therapeutics, and design new interventions to alleviate disease may provide symptomatic relief and improve function. Dr. Hekman's project focuses on overcoming a major limitation in the development of patient-derived endothelial cells using induced pluripotent stem cell technology. This technology is currently limited by reprogramming-induced senescence whereby the mature cellular phenotype degenerates and is lost. She will work to overcome this barrier to generate functional patient-derived endothelial cells for clinical and therapeutic applications. She is a post-doctoral fellow supported by an F32 Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA individual post-doctoral fellowship award from NHLBI.
Frances Lee (2017-Present) - General Surgery Resident
Dr. Lee's research in the Luo lab relates to immunology and focuses on tolerance mechanisms in transplantation. Specifically, the Luo lab investigates potential curative therapies for Type I Diabetes (T1D), a chronic autoimmune disorder that is characterized by progressive destruction of pancreatic islet cells. Among current therapies for T1D, pancreatic islet cell transplantation is a promising treatment, but is limited by the lack of available human donors and continuous need for immunosuppression. Using mouse models of allogeneic (mouse to mouse) pancreatic islet cell transplantation, the Luo lab has developed a successful therapy that when given around the time of transplantation establishes tolerance (a permanent state of unresponsiveness to foreign antigen without the need for immunosuppression). To address the lack of human donor sources of islet cells and potential use of porcine islet cells for transplantation, these strategies have been expanded to xenogeneic (rat to mouse, pig to mouse, etc) islet cell transplantation and have had more complex results requiring further investigations to achieve tolerance. Dr. Lee's main project is currently investigating tolerance mechanisms in xenogeneic islet cell transplantation using humanized mouse models (genetically immunodeficient mice transplanted with a functional human immune system) as a means of studying the human immune system response to pig islet cell transplantation.
William Phillips (2018-Present) - General Surgery Resident
Dr. Phillips’ research is focused on improving the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. Under the mentorship of Dr. Yolanda Colson at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, he is working on sentinel lymph node mapping in non-small cell lung cancer to identify metastatic disease and help minimize the morbidity associated with extensive lymph node dissections. This is accomplished utilizing near infrared technology to visualize a fluorescent dye - indocyanine green - tracking to nearby lymphatics following peritumoral injection. Additionally, with the collaboration of Dr. Odell at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Dr. Phillips is working to expedite the time to diagnosis and standardize the treatment of lung cancer patients identified as vulnerable in the greater Boston area. Dr. Phillips’ research is supported by the American College of Surgeons Resident Research Scholarship.
Cary Schlick (2018-Present) - General Surgery Resident
Dr. Schlick’s research interests lie in quality adherence and access to healthcare across geographic and health system boundaries. Specifically, she is interested in adherence to cancer care metrics in relation to geographic and financial variables, and how patient outcomes are impacted by treatments available to them. Cary is originally from rural Minnesota, and ultimately aims to lessen healthcare disparities across America through both her clinical and research efforts. Cary is a research fellow in the SOQIC group under the guidance of Dr. Karl Bilimoria. Additionally, she is working with Dr. David Bentrem at the VA assessing the quality of cancer provided to this population. Cary is currently completing a Master’s degree in Health Services and Outcomes Research through the Northwestern University Institute for Public Health and Medicine.
Tarik Yuce (2018-Present) - General Surgery Resident
Dr. Yuce’s interests lie in outcomes research as well as surgical quality improvement relating to minimally invasive benign foregut and bariatric surgery. His focus is on identifying possible avenues for improving bariatric outcome measures such as readmission and surgical site infections under the guidance of Dr. Karl Bilimoria and Dr. Ryan Merkow. He also is exploring methods to augment minimally invasive surgical training for general surgery residency. He is currently taking time away from his general surgery residency at Northwestern Memorial Hospital to complete a Master’s in Health Services and Outcomes Research while a T-32 postdoctoral fellow at the Northwestern Center for Education in Healthcare Studies.