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Wells Resident Research Day 2024

On Tuesday, April 23rd the Department of Surgery celebrated the 23rd Annual Samuel Wells Resident Research Day. Faculty, staff, residents and guests gathered to view entrant poster presentations at the atrium in the Farrell Teaching and Learning Center. Residents discussed their poster research, after which the party moved to the Moore Auditorium, where finalists presented their research at the podium and took audience questions with invited discussants. 

Oral presentations were introduced by Ryan Fields, MD, Kim and Tim Eberlein Distinguished Professor, chief of the Section of Surgical Oncology and director of resident research for the general surgery residency program. Joining in attendance were immediate past Department of Surgery chair Timothy Eberlein, MD, and visiting professor Ronald P. DeMatteo, MD, FACS, John Rhea Barton Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at University of Pennsylvania for oral presentations. 

As guest, DeMatteo gave his grand rounds presentation the following day, titled “GIST, Far from Over” at Clopton Auditorium, which discussed the most recent research on gastrointestinal stromal tumors, the most common human sarcoma. 


Wells Day research presentations are classified under two categories—Clinical, Outcomes, Innovation and Education research, and Basic and Translational research. A winner was selected from each category.

The two finalists for Clinical, Outcomes, Innovation and Education were Nikki Rossetti, MD—who presented findings on performance of insurance models, that found VA outperforms other insurance models, including Medicare and Medicaid—and Catherine Zivanov, MD, who presented findings on non-operative rectal cancer management. 

Rosetti received first place in the Clinical, Outcomes, Innovation and Education category.

The two finalists for Basic and Translational Research were Felicia Zhang, MD—who presented findings on patient-specific neoantigen vaccines for pancreatic cancer during the adjuvant setting, using a peptide vaccine and a DNA vaccine for comparison in efficacy—and Hailey Shepherd, MD—whose presentation discussed the role of disrupting lymphatic tissue and its association with developing fibrosis in organ transplantation.

Shepherd received first place in the Basic and Translational Research category.

Rosetti’s research was made possible by the research program of Varun Puri, MD, MSCI, chief of the Section of Thoracic Surgery and Benjamin Kozower, MD. Zivanov’s research represented the research program of William Chapman, Jr., MD. 

Zhang’s research was facilitated by the research program of William Gillanders, MD, Mary Culver Professor of Surgery. Shepherd’s research represented research facilitated by the research program of Daniel Kreisel, MD. 

“The poster session and finalist oral presentations were a fantastic venue to showcase the intersection of the academic and educational missions of our department,” says John A. Olson Jr., MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Surgery, William K. Bixby Professor.

Poster Competition Winner 

Sophia Roberts, MD, from the research program of Mohamed Zayed, MD, won the poster competition with her research focused on developing a patented fenestrated balloon-expandable stent for management of aortoiliac occlusive disease. Roberts conducted this research during her time as a fellow with the CardioVascular Research Innovation in Surgery and Engineering (CVISE) Center. 

Impact of Wells Day

Wells Day was established in recognition of Samuel Wells Jr., MD, for his contributions to contemporary surgery. Two major contributions of his were identifying genetic factors responsible for multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2) and familial medullary thyroid carcinoma (FMTC), leading to improved diagnoses and healthcare management for patients, and prophylactic thyroidectomy to mitigate medullary thyroid cancer in pediatric patients. 

“Congratulations to Drs. Rossetti, Shepherd and Roberts,” says Fields. “This research competition provides an opportunity to showcase the research work residents and faculty perform regularly, while paying homage to Dr. Wells’ research breakthroughs.”