Research now being conducted by Cardi-

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Research now being conducted by Cardi- Powered By Docstoc

          Foundation for Surgery Scholarship
     Thanks to the scholarship,
     Dr Chen was able to defer
     his cardiothoracic training
     to focus on pure research

               esearch now being conducted by Cardi-
               othoracic Trainee Dr Yi Chen into the
               release of a protein produced by the
     body during the inflammation process could
     result in improved treatments for patients
     suffering post-operative infection, particularly
     following cardiopulmonary bypass surgery.
          The 2008 recipient of the Foundation for
     Surgery Scholarship, Dr Chen is investigat-
     ing the pattern of Activin A release as part of
     his Master of Surgery Degree at the Monash
     Medical Centre. Dr Chen said Activin A had
     only been isolated within the past twenty years
     and that while it was originally understood
     to be primarily a reproductive hormone, new
     research suggests it may have a wider role.
          “Recent studies have shown that Activin A is
     released very early by people who have septicae-
                                                         Yi Chen has always been interested in research
     mia as part of the body’s defence mechanism.
     However, we also believe the body has another
     naturally-produced protein which binds and          matory response in the patient due to the blood        continue his work.
     inhibits the action of Activin A,” he said.         coming into contact with a large foreign surface           “I have always been interested in research
          “Understanding how and when it is              in the heart-lung machine. This inflammatory            so I thought I would take the opportunity
     released could allow us, then, to target this       response can result in significant derangement          presented now, earlier in my career, while I have
     protein and reduce inflammation.”                    of the patient’s clotting mechanism, ventilation,      the time. Some people may see pure research as
          Dr Chen said the research had potential        as well as blood pressure regulation.                  dry but it feels exciting to be part of the proc-
     significance in relation to cardiopulmonary               “In severe cases, this can lead to signifi-        ess of discovery and to have received such great
     bypass surgery but that no research had yet         cantly prolonged intensive care unit stay or even      support from the College,” he said.
     focussed on the pattern of Activin A release or     death so there is great interest in understand-             A
                                                                                                                    “ significant proportion of the biology of
     its potential role in such surgery.                 ing exactly how the inflammatory response               Activin A has not been entirely worked out yet but
          “Cardiac surgery performed today is still      works and how it can be controlled.”                   what we do know so far is suggesting that its role
     largely done on cardiopulmonary bypass with              Dr Chen deferred his cardiothoracic train-        could be very significant. My research is aimed at
     the help of the heart-lung machine. The blood       ing to focus on pure research. He is working           understanding one piece of a bigger puzzle.”
     is diverted to the machine to be oxygenated and     under the supervision of Professor Julian                  The Foundation for Surgery Scholarship
     then pumped back into the patient’s circulation     Smith and Associate Professor David Phil-              is open to all Fellows and Trainees enrolled
     while the surgeon works on the heart,” he said      lips, both of whom work out of the Monash              in, or intending to enrol in a higher degree. It
          “It has been known for a long time that the    Medical centre. Since then, he has also received       incorporates a $55,000 stipend plus $5000 in
     heart-lung machine can elicit a strong inflam-       the Eric Bishop scholarship to allow him to            departmental maintenance.

                                                                                                          SURGICAL NEWS P31    / Vol:10 No:1 January/February 2009

P26-31 SN Jan09.indd 31                                                                                                                               2/02/2009 1:46:03 PM

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