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General and Gastrointestinal Surgery Research

General and gastrointestinal surgeons at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are renowned scientific researchers, who are involved in a range of surgical and multi-modality, disease-specific clinical research. Research projects have resulted in revolutionary advances in surgery, such as modern intravenous (IV) therapy, modern blood banking equipment and optimal nutritional treatment for burn surgery patients.

Research in general and gastrointestinal surgery involves interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration among researchers at the Brigham and other scientists in the Boston area, throughout the United States and around the world. Together, we have built an integrated research effort among multiple disciplines each contributing to surgical innovations.

Clinical Trials

Select patients have the opportunity to participate in investigational clinical trials that study the safety and effectiveness of new treatment approaches for specific diseases. Cancer patients have direct access to the latest research-based treatments and clinical trials through our role in the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), a National Cancer Institute-funded consortium comprised of seven member institutions: Brigham and Women's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Research Study Examples

Research projects, including clinical trials focus on:

  • Colorectal cancers
  • Sarcomas
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver and biliary duct cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • New targeted cancer treatments using novel biologic drugs
  • Tissue analysis and typing to develop biomarkers for prognosis and diagnosis in cancer
  • Investigating new devices to aid in treatment, localization and tumor excision
  • Protocols to reduce postoperative stay and promote recovery
  • Quality of life studies aimed to improve lifestyle and reduce morbidities before and after surgery
  • New, more precise surgical approaches using the AMIGO suite
  • Characterization of the tumor genetic structure and function with emphasis on developing new therapies

General and Gastrointestinal Surgery Researchers

Stanley W. Ashley, MD

  • Examining the physiological regulation of the intestinal sodium transporter SGLT1 in health and disease to help develop novel therapeutic approaches for altering intestinal absorptive capacity of glucose in disease states such as obesity and diabetes

Ronald Bleday, MD

  • Tumor bank accrual: 316 total since GI tumor bank inception (26.4% of total)
  • American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG) local excision study
  • Stool-based biomarker research study
  • Laparoscopic vs open colectomy study

Malcolm Kenneth Robinson, MD

Brent Shoji, MD

  • Gastrosplenic fistula from Hodgkin's Disease

Douglas S. Smink, MD, MPH

  • Surgical simulation and resident education using both simulated and real OR environments to teach teamwork, communication, leadership and decision-making to surgeons.

Ali Tavakkoli, MD

  • NIH-funded research group that focuses on identifying novel approaches to modulate intestinal nutrient transport to treat obesity and diabetes

Ashley Vernon, MD

  • Large clinical trial investigating the impact of bariatric surgery on patient health

Edward E. Whang, MD

  • Identification and validation of novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets in gastrointestinal malignancies, especially pancreatic cancer
  • Development of strategies for optimizing intestinal regeneration and surgical education

James Yoo, MD

We Need Your Help

Your contributions to our research will provide even better care for the next generation of patients and their families. Your contributions can be directed toward:

  • Improving the role of surgery to improve patient outcomes
  • Improving surgical processes, techniques and protocols
  • Improving recovery after surgery
  • Understanding the needs of surgery patients

Support Our Work

Learn how you can support our general and gastrointestinal research projects.

Learn more about Brigham and Women's Hospital

For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

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