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USC - University of Southern California Cardiothoracic Surgery at University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine
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About USC Cardiothoracic Surgery

Visionary Research

Our visionary approach to medicine extends to the research realm. We take a very well-planned approach to our research endeavors -- focusing on bench laboratory projects that will eventually translate into new and better clinical options for our patients. Through a better understanding of the nature of important cardiovascular diseases, we can enhance patient care.


More than 10 research scientists, funded by over $2 million in grants, are studying different strategies to make improvements in organ transplantation. The ability to specifically block the rejection of foreign organs -- even those from unrelated species -- is a unique therapeutic strategy that has the potential to eliminate the shortage of human organ donors. Our research has demonstrated the use of a unique and restricted pattern of immunological responses that can alter the host’s response to the new grafts. One of our focuses is genetically modifying the host to allow for permanent and long-term survival of the grafts.

Gene Therapy

Another innovative bench research is looking at gene therapy to address the problem of two problems: injury in vessels of organs transplanted to new recipients and vascular injury caused by attempts to treat narrowing of heart vessels in patients with atherosclerosis. Our approach is to genetically manipulate the cells involved in these reactions to surgery to prevent their proliferation and blockage of damaged vessels.

Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery

Beating heart surgery -- also called off-pump surgery -- allows patients to avoid the side effects of the heart-lung machine. Our research goal is to develop methods to protect the heart and maintain optimal blood flow during this surgery. One aspect of this off-pump surgery research is protecting heart tissue by regionally cooling it just a few degrees. USC researchers have found this limits the amount of damage to the tissue.

Lung Cancer

Members of USC Cardiothoracic Surgeons are active participants in the Hastings Thoracic Oncology Laboratory on the campus of USC. Our interest in this advanced research effort involves investigating treatment modalities for early lung cancer and the molecular pathogenesis of metastasis as it relates to lung cancer. This lab has a strong translational focus -- taking the information we learn in the bench research and applying it to the clinical area.

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