October 14, 2009
Thomas M. Egan, MD, MSc, professor of surgery in the UNC School of Medicine, has received a $1.47 million, two-year grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for research on perfusion and ventilation of lungs outside the body before transplant. The research could lead to a significant increase in the number of lungs available for transplant.

Dr. Paul Stewart

Dr. Paul Stewart

Paul Stewart, PhD, research associate professor in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics, is a co-investigator on the project.

Egan, a surgeon in the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, is internationally known for his research on lung transplantation, which has been under way since he came to UNC in 1989 to start its lung transplant program.

His new grant was awarded under the NHLBI’s Translational Research Implementation Program (TRIP), a two-stage program designed to translate fundamental research ideas into proof-of-concept efficacy testing in patients. This Stage 1 grant is supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Grand Opportunities (GO) grants program, for large-scale research projects that the National Institutes of Health says have “a high likelihood of enabling growth and investment in biomedical research and development, public health, and health care delivery.”

NHLBI is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Egan’s project will perfect a technique to perfuse and ventilate human lungs outside the body (ex vivo) to determine whether they are suitable for transplant, and will demonstrate safety of transplanting human lungs after ex-vivo perfusion in a pilot clinical study.

Investigators for the project, titled “Ex-vivo perfusion and ventilation of lungs to assess transplant suitability,” include, in addition to biostatistician Stewart:

  • Peadar G. Noone, MD, associate professor of medicine;
  • Eileen Burker, PhD, CRC, associate professor of allied health sciences and adjunct in the Department of Psychiatry;
  • Benjamin E. Haithcock, MD, assistant professor of surgery;
  • William K. Funkhouser, MD, PhD, professor of pathology and lab medicine; and
  • Katherine Birchard, MD, assistant professor of radiology, all in the UNC School of Medicine; and
  • R. Duane Davis, MD, PhD, professor of surgery at Duke University School of Medicine
For more information, contact Egan at (919) 966-3383.

UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or ramona_dubose@unc.edu.


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