Faculty Research Interests
Surgical Research has expertise, resources, facilities, and environment to conduct research in both the basic and the clinical sciences of trauma and surgical critical care, sepsis, surgical and endocrine oncology, wound healing and abdominal wall reconstruction. Research is multidisciplinary and includes investigators with specialties in surgery, medicine, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, immunology, microbiology, and molecular biology.
Principal investigators supporting major research efforts in the Department of Surgery are:
Tony Godfrey, PhD, Associate Chair, Surgical Research
Dr. Godfrey’s research is focused on cancer genetics and molecular pathology. Research projects use state-of-the-art genetic and genomic approaches to address clinical needs in the areas of cancer diagnosis, prognosis and therapy. Currently the major focus of Dr. Godfrey’s research is on Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma; a tumor with rapidly increasing incidence in the United States and other western countries. The Godfrey lab works closely with translational research teams comprised of surgeons, pathologists and oncologists in order to develop new molecular approaches to cancer detection, staging and treatment.
See a listing of Dr. Godfrey’s publications on ResearcherID, a service of the Thomson Reuters (Scientific) Inc.
Lisa Allee, LICSW
As the Injury Prevention Coordinator at Boston Medical Center in the Sections of Acute Care and Trauma Surgery and Surgical Critical Care and Instructor of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine, Lisa plays a vital role in trauma care. Her research interests include violence-related injury and epidemiology, older adult falls and motor vehicle crash prevention as well as impaired driving, child passenger safety and infant mortality related to sleeping habits. Lisa also holds the position of Director of Programs and Education for the Injury Prevention Center and is a member of the New England Injury and Violence Prevention Research Collaborative (NEIVPRC).
Peter Burke, MD, FACS
As the Chief of Trauma Services at Boston Medical Center and Professor of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine, Dr. Burke’s clinical interests involve developing a better understanding of the overall injury response with a special interest in the nutritional needs of trauma and critically ill patients. The effects of metabolic and nutritional support on the inflammatory response and their interactions with other ongoing therapies in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) population remains an area of active and ongoing study.
Tracey Dechert, MD, FACS
As an Attending Surgeon in the Section of Acute Care and Trauma Surgery and Assistant Professor of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine, Dr. Dechert’s research interests include trauma in women, injury prevention, and research in surgical education. As Associate Program Director of the Surgery Residency Program, she is actively involved in resident education and wellness. Additionally, Dr. Dechert is also interested in quality improvement in the critical care setting and has played an active role in improving the outcomes of critically injured patients.
F. Thurston Drake, MD, MPH
As an Attending Surgeon in the Section of Surgical Endocrinology and Laszlo N. Tauber Assistant Professor of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Drake’s research interests include improving outcomes for common surgical diseases, innovations in surgical education and improving access to surgical care in the developing world. Dr. Drake is currently working on two small projects:  adrenalectomy for metastatic disease (i.e., primary is non-small cell lung cancer or renal cell and there is a solitary adrenal met with controlled primary disease) and  on predictors of resolution of hypertension after adrenalectomy for primary hyperaldosteronism.
Alik Farber, MD
As Division Chief of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Boston Medical Center and Professor of Surgery of Boston University School of Medicine Dr. Alik Farber leads a multidisciplinary clinical research unit that is based in the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery. The mission of the Boston Medical Center Vascular Research Consortium is to improve the care of patients with vascular disease through innovative research. Resent research endeavors stemming from the Consortium included projects involving aortic aneurysms, venous disease, carotid disease and vascular trauma. Dr. Farber’s specific research interests include peripheral arterial disease and dialysis access. In October of 2013 he was awarded $25 million by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct a four-year, randomized clinical trial—the BEST-CLI Trial (Best Endovascular versus Best Surgical Therapy in Patients with Critical Limb Ischemia). The trial will compare traditional bypass surgery with the less invasive alternative of endovascular treatment for patients with critical limb ischemia. BEST-CLI aims to enroll 2,100 participants and be conducted at 120 clinical centers in the United States and Canada.
Amitabh Gautam MD, FRCSEd
As an Attending Surgeon in the Division of TransplaNt Surgery and Assistant Professor of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine, Dr. Gautam’s clinical focus is on care of patients with End Stage Renal Disease, including dialysis surgical access and kidney and pancreas transplantation. He is interested in clinical outcome research in these patients. In addition his interest as a member of the Minority Affairs Committee of the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) is on the problems faced by minority patients in access of care and outcomes. He has worked with undergraduate students of BU under the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and some of these students have had the research presented in international transplant meetings as well as publications in peer reviewed journals.
George Kasotakis, MD, MPH
As an Attending Surgeon in the Sections of Acute Care and Trauma Surgery and Surgical Critical Care and Assistant Professor of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine, Dr. George Kasotakis is interested in identifying the role of Histone Deacetylase Inhibition in the management of ARDS & sepsis initially in murine models of the disease, hoping that soon these agents will be able to improve survival in these deadly conditions, for which no targeted therapies currently exist. He is also working with scientists from the BU Department of Biomedical Engineering and Brigham and Women’s Hospital radiologists to develop a method that allows depiction on imaging studies, and eventually mitigation of adhesive disease burden after abdominal surgery.
In terms of clinical research, Dr Kasotakis is evaluating the effect of trainee participation in outcomes on surgical patients; blood product use and association with adverse events in transfused trauma patients; risk prediction for adverse outcomes in Surgical Critical Care; assessment of intraoperative risk factors associated with adverse outcomes after surgery; and risk prediction in ventral hernia repairs. He is also coordinating numerous educational and quality improvement efforts in the Surgical Critical Care Unit (SICU) at Boston Medical Center.
Virginia R. Litle, MD, FACS
As an Attending Surgeon in the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Boston Medical Center and Associate Professor of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine, Dr. Virginia Litle is involved in the daily clinical care of patients with Barrett’s Esophagus (BE), gastroesophageal disease, esophageal cancer and lung cancer. As Director of the Barrett’s Esophagus Program, Dr. Litle is actively building the Barrett’s Esophagus Outcomes databank through which patients undergoing ablation of Barrett’s esophagus and anti-reflux procedures are followed for response to treatment. She works with Dr. Tony Godfrey implementing a less invasive approach for surveying patients with Barrett’s esophagus involving a sponge for collecting precancerous cells and genetic material to improve the management of patients at risk for the deadly esophageal cancer.
Matthew Nuhn, MD
As Division Chief of Transplant Surgery at Boston Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine Dr. Nuhn is involved in the daily care of patients with end organ disease as well as the patient being prepared for surgery. Within the field of transplant surgery Dr. Nuhn has an interest in outcomes. There are many ways in which transplant outcomes can be assessed and recently the division of transplant surgery has looked at BK virus predominance and outcomes in the BMC immunosuppressed population. Future areas of interest are outcomes related to the undocumented transplant patient.
Fabio Petrocca, MD
The Petrocca laboratory is currently focused on advancing precision medicine therapies for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC; the most aggressive subtype of breast cancer) into clinical testing. The primary goal of this program is to identify selective vulnerabilities linked to defined genetic and epigenetic states in distinct TNBC subtypes, and prioritize the highest-value targets for downstream drug development in select subgroups of TNBC patients. The lab is also interested in dissecting the molecular basis behind TNBC exceptional response and resistance to clinically available drugs, particularly 2nd-generation proteasome inhibitors and nuclear export drugs. Dr. Petrocca’s research is powered by integration of diverse experimental approaches, including synthetic lethality, genome editing, high throughput screening, single-cell RNA-seq, computational biology, network science, medicinal chemistry, pre-clinical PoC studies and clinical trials.
Teviah Sachs, MD, MPH
As an Attending Surgeon in the Sections of Surgical Endocrinology and Surgical Oncology at Boston Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine, Dr. Sachs research consists of looking at outcomes of upper gastrointestinal and soft tissue malignancies. Dr. Sachs is also interested in looking at surgical education and its transformation from past to present as well as how best to improve the education of future students and residents. He also has an interest in Public Health, and disparities in healthcare and health quality.
Sabrina Sanchez, MD, MPH
As an Attending Surgeon in the Sections of Acute Care and Trauma Surgery and Surgical Critical Care and Assistant Professor of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine, Dr. Sanchez is interested in geriatric surgery, palliative and end-of-life care in the ICU, and surgical education and resident well-being. Specifically, she is interested in improving the care and outcomes of geriatric trauma and acute care surgical patients and enhancing the appropriate use of palliative care in trauma and surgical critical care settings. As a recent graduate, she recognizes the importance of a strong surgical education program that focuses on providing residents with efficient and effective learning opportunities and is interested in finding new ways to achieve this.
Beda Sarkar, MD, PhD
As an Attending Surgeon in the Sections of Acute Care and Trauma Surgery and Surgical Critical Care and Assistant Professor of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine, Dr. Sarkar is actively involved in basic and clinical research. His laboratory uses a mouse model of abdominal sepsis that is similar to what is seen in human surgical patients. The project examines the role of mitochondrial DNA in sepsis as both a marker for survival as well as an inflammatory molecule. His primary clinical interests include abdominal wall reconstruction, due in large part to the fact that a multitude of trauma patients develop complications requiring an open abdomen while in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Clinical research projects currently in progress include examining factors that contribute to poor outcomes in emergency general surgery patients and whether surgery is superior to percutaneous drainage for acute cholecystitis.