Through a broad research portfolio, investigators in General Surgery at Michigan Medicine seek to transform understanding of injury, surgical disease and surgical treatment — from uncovering the mechanisms that trigger adrenal cancer, to building a better crash-test dummy to save lives in automobile accidents.

Discovering the Future of Surgery

With more than $8 million annually in external funding, the Section of General Surgery is one of the most well-funded and productive research enterprises of its kind in the country. Our researchers span basic science, clinical, translational, and health outcomes research, with a focus on multidisciplinary and multi-institution partnerships that spur new ideas and circulate important new approaches to make a broader impact.

Through collaboration, we’re better able to consider the 360-degree experience of a patient — such as through our Trauma Burn Center, which develops new methods for enhancing quality of life for survivors of trauma and burn injury — or through our Center for Healthcare Outcomes & Policy, which seeks to inform the creation of health policy that leads to better and more equitable care.

We’re also finding ways to combine novel technologies with surgical expertise, as evidenced by our invention of a small, implantable “cancer decoy” device that is designed to attract cancer cells in the bloodstream before they can become tumors.

A snapshot of our current research interests:

  • Trauma and critical care, including work in the new field of morphomic analysis, a novel approach to assessing patient frailty using CT scans of core muscle size; and efforts to improve outcomes for patients with traumatic brain injury.
  • Cancer and tumor biology, including investigating the link between the genetic regulation of stem cells and the development of adrenal cancers; and exploring how freezing breast cancer affects the immune system’s ability to recognize and kill the cancer — a potential alternative to more invasive surgery.
  • Health services and outcomes, including comparing the effectiveness of different health care policies to determine which will produce the best outcomes for quality care with lower costs.
  • Clinical trials, including an effort funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to develop and conduct randomized controlled clinical trials to prevent or treat acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) as part of a 13-center network.
  • Surgical education, including work on operative teaching, resident autonomy, and diversity, equity, and inclusion in training.