Faculty, Trainees, and Collaborators Participate in 2nd Annual Research Retreat

Emory Urology 2016 research retreat

February 2016

The Emory Urology 2nd Annual Research Retreat, held on Friday, February 12, 2016, from noon-6:30 p.m. in the Sanford S. Atwood Chemistry Center, presented the breadth of the department's diverse research pursuits, the widened perspective that outside collaborators bring to the table, and the investigative progress made by our trainees.

Following opening remarks by John Petros, MD, associate chair for urologic research, Mersiha Torlak, MPH, director of clinical trials, gave a concise yet comprehensive overview of the department's 2015 clinical research pursuits.

"The Urology Clinical Research Unit has greatly expanded its research capacity over the last year as a result of a growing research team and our faculty becoming involved in various new research projects," she said. "For several of our trials, we are the top accruing institution in the country."

During the 1st session, which was dedicated to translational research, Haydn Kissick, PhD, spoke about CD8 T-cell exhaustion in cancer; Rebecca Arnold, PhD, discussed diagnostic tests for renal cell carcinoma; and post-doctoral fellow Kathryn Pellegrini, PhD, presented data and conclusions from the Dr. Sanda-helmed study that characterized prostate cancer-associated RNAs in extracellular vesicles from post-DRE urine. Two outside collaborators wrapped up the session, with Facundo Fernandez, MS, PhD, of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology, reporting on the application of serum metabolomics in prostate cancer diagnosis; and Guangping Chen, PhD, Emory Department of Physiology, describing the association of the urea transporter gene with bladder cancer.

Resident and student research was featured in the 2nd session, with abstract presentations by PGY3 Robert Gerhard, MD; PGY4 Ilan Safir, MD; PGY4 Samuel David, MD; and Kirven Gilbert, MS, a former medical student of the Department of Radiology and Imaging Services. At the close of the retreat, Dr. Safir was announced as the winner of the resident research contest for his abstract, "Teleurology to Enhance Access and Expedite Care of Patients Referred with Hematuria," which reported a high degree of patient preference for the use of telephone appointments rather than clinic visits as the first line of hematuria evaluation. Dr. Safir's fellow Emory Urology resident co-authors were Salil Gabale, MD; Jonathan Huang, MD; Samuel David, MD; Steven Gerhard, MD; Jeff Pearl, MD; and Adam Lorentz, MD.

The third session's focus on clinical research was initiated by Akanksha Mehta, MD, who discussed the use of testosterone and non-testosterone hormone treatments among young, hypogonadal men. Sherif Nour, MD, of the Emory Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, then explained the current status of MRI guided prostate biopsy and ablation. The session closed with Christopher Filson, MD, detailing how to deploy such strategies as study design and manuscript publication to optimize research success.

After closing remarks by Emory Urology Chair Martin Sanda, MD, the 2016 installment of the research retreat drew to a close, leaving the impression that the road had been paved for an equally stellar 2017 edition.

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