USA Health surgery resident wins regional paper competition
Richard Rieske, M.D., a surgery resident and postdoctoral research fellow in the University of South Alabama department of surgery, recently won the American College of Surgeons Regional Resident Paper Competition for Region 4.
By Lindsay Mott
Richard Rieske, M.D., a surgery resident and postdoctoral research fellow in the University of South Alabama department of surgery, recently won the American College of Surgeons Regional Resident Paper Competition for Region 4. USA has won the regional competition four times in the past six years.
Rieske’s research highlighted the work conducted in a year spent in the lab with Jon Simmons, M.D., associate professor of surgery and pharmacology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.
Rieske’s research examined the blood of trauma patients and discovered that those patients with elevated DAMPs (molecules that trigger inflammatory responses via pattern recognition receptors) in their blood were more likely to die or have serious injuries. From this, they tried to understand where DAMPs come from and how they impact the survival of trauma patients. The work found that blood products contain unrecognized cellular contamination, and this could be a source of harmful DAMPs in trauma patients who receive multiple blood products.
“We learned that plasma, which physicians typically regard as a blood product that doesn't contain blood cells, contains significant numbers of white blood cells,” Rieske said. “This is a problem because these cells can interact with the immune system in the patient or may lead to inflammatory reactions.”
Since blood transfusions are an essential part of trauma care, Rieske says that they don’t yet fully understand all the implications of what they have discovered about giving large amounts of white blood cells to trauma patients.
“This research helps us ask important questions about how we produce blood products and how we ensure the safest use of blood products in trauma patients,” Rieske said.
Rieske was one of two USA Health residents to win at the state level and then compete at the regional competition in South Carolina. He was scheduled to present at the national competition in March, but this has been rescheduled due to concerns about COVID-19.
“This is the most prestigious resident research award for trauma from the American College of Surgeons,” said Michael Chang, M.D., chief medical officer for USA Health. “Participating in the national competition will be a wonderful opportunity for him to get exposure for the great work he’s doing, and sends the message that the research that Simmons’ group is doing is cutting-edge in the resuscitation of injured trauma patients internationally.”