Department of Surgery Resident Research Program


The mission of this program is to provide residents in the General Surgery Program a veritable research experience that aligns with the goal of training future leaders in surgery.

Format of the research program

The research program is crafted to be flexible to suit individual resident goals and interests. Most of our residents will avail themselves of protected time outside clinical years to pursue research and academic efforts. The number of years in and type of research will be tailored to best suit the career plans of the individual resident.

Goals and expectations of research year(s)

  1. The success of this program is clearly reliant on the residents’ undertaking high quality research. The goal is for the resident to be able to complete a quality research product by the end of their research program. It is the expectation that the research will be presented at a regional/national meeting and published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  2. Depending on the specific research area, whenever opportunities exist and with their faculty mentor’s guidance, it is expected that the resident will submit the research for competitive extra-mural funding opportunities.
  3. Every resident who has participated in the research program will be expected to present at the annual Berne Academic Day to the USC Department of Surgery at large. This conference is held in the spring of each year. The best presentation will win the resident research award.

Area of research

The residents will be allowed to choose their own area of research based on their interest and opportunities available. No restriction will be placed on type of research (clinical vs. bench) or location of research (restricted to the department or for that matter to the institution). A non-exhaustive list of research opportunities within the department is provided below.

Division Type of Research Brief Description of Current Research and/or Recently Published Research
Cardiothoracic Surgery Clinical Science Research Clinical trials evaluating new mechanical circulatory support devices (i.e., LVAD) for the treatment of end-stage heart failure.
Plastic Reconstructive Surgery Basic Science Research Delivery of demineralized bone matrix powder using a thermogelling chitosan carrier.
Acute Surgical Care/Trauma Surgery Basic Science & Clinical Science Research Research on optimal platelet and plasma ratios in massive blood transfusions.
Breast/Soft Tissue Basic Science & Clinical/Translational Science Research Research on molecular profiling of circulating tumor cells in breast cancer and clinical trials and translational studies focused on finding better treatments for breast cancer patients.
Hepato-biliary/Abdominal Transplant Surgery Clinical Science Research Research involving immunosuppressive management, new surgical agents in liver resection and new anti-microbial agents.
Cardiothoracic Surgery Basic Science & Clinical Science Research Clinical research encompasses outcomes in congenital heart disease. Bench research involves the development and regeneration of the heart and blood vessels.
Plastic Reconstructive Surgery Basic Science Research Research on adult-derived stem cells for wound healing, molecular pathogenesis of silicone breast implant capsular contracture, and microvascular flap physiology.
Surgery, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Basic Science Research Research focus on molecular, cellular, and developmental biology of lymphatic system.
Thoracic Surgery Basic Science Research Research focus on lung cancer, cancer genetics, epigenetics, DNA methylation, RNA/DNA protein interaction, & immune response in cancer.
Acute Surgical Care/Trauma Surgery Clinical Science Research Research focus on glucose measurements, crystalloid restriction, & ventilator-associated pneumonia in traumatic & post-traumatic cases.
Colon and Rectal Surgery Clinical Science Research Research focus on enhanced recovery, surgical site infection including negative pressure wound therapy as well as clinical outcomes in colon and rectal cancer and IBD.

Planning for the research year(s):

The primary goal of the Residency Research Program is to oversee the research experience of the residents. This program is directed by Ram Kumar Subramanyan, MD, PhD with Juliet Emamaullee, MD, PhD serving as the associate director. A resident research oversight committee comprising of select faculty members reviews research plans of every resident, provides constructive feedback and further augments resident research experience.

Funding sources:

The department works actively with each resident to identify funding sources to support their research efforts. The department has been awarded an R38 training grant from the NHLBI that supports research efforts in the areas of heart, lung, vascular and blood research. Residents can also compete for institutional CIRM and T32 training awards. In addition, funds are available within each division to cover resident research.

Graduate level training during research years:

The research program is designed to provide residents the opportunity to receive didactic training that will prepare them for a future in academic surgery. All residents will receive formal training in the Responsible Conduct of Research. In addition, they will enroll in graduate level biostatistics classes commensurate with their prior expertise.

5Residents also can enroll in other graduate courses that would best enhance their research experience. Our past trainees have utilized these opportunities to obtain advanced degrees, including MPH, PhD, MSEd and EdD.