VA Maryland Health Care System
VA Surgeon Receives Prestigious Wylie Scholars Awa
All surgery is trauma, and if our bodies heal from trauma by forming scar tissue, then blood vessels are no exception. Scar tissue that forms in blood vessels after a surgery is referred to as intimal hyperplasia. Dr. Thomas S. Monahan, an attending surgeon at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has been fascinated with how to avoid intimal hyperplasia or scarring within blood vessels for years.
In seeking answers to this question, Monahan discovered a protein associated with the scarring that can occur in a vein after bypass or stent surgery, and now is advancing his research to look for ways to block that protein.
"Many strategies have been employed to prevent the formation of intimal hyperplasia, including drug-eluting stents," Monahan says. "But these agents impair the proliferation of all of cells. The ideal solution would be to find a therapy that would inhibit only the cells responsible for producing intimal hyperplasia."
Monahan is the recipient of the 2013 Wylie Scholar Award in Academic Surgery to Vascular Cures. The annual Vascular Cures Wylie Scholar Award consists of a three-year, $150,000 grant given to the most promising vascular surgeon-scientists in North America, who are dedicated to an academic career combining their clinical practice with original, innovative basic laboratory or clinical research. The Wylie Scholar Award will fund the research involved in looking for ways to block the protein that fosters scarring in blood vessels.
"We're excited that one of our surgeons has been selected as a Wylie Scholar," says Dennis H. Smith, director of the VA Maryland Health Care System. "The Vascular Cures' Wylie Scholar Program supports outstanding surgeons and provides the financial assistance that will enable them to develop into academic vascular-surgeon-scientists."
With more than 81 million Americans suffering from cardiovascular disease, resulting in more than a million cardiovascular bypass operations and angioplasty procedures each year, the scarring issue can lead to thrombosis, which, in turn, limits the durability of all the cardiovascular interventions.
"This work will provide the necessary foundation for future experiments that can translate into a prevention for human disease," Monahan says.
"The Wylie Scholar Awardees are destined to become leaders in vascular surgery, and we are thrilled that our Veteran patients benefit from the level of excellence Dr. Monahan brings to our health care system," Smith adds. "Dr. Monahan is a full-time VA employee, and this award speaks volumes about our collaborations with our academic partner, the University of Maryland School of Medicine."
Dr. Monahan will be honored in San Francisco at the Wylie Scholar Award dinner on Sept. 28.