Early Years (1980-1994): The Center was established in the Department of Anesthesiology at the new University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Dr. Joseph Gabel was the chairman of the department who recruited a number of investigators focusing on fluid balance/transport. The core investigators Robert Drake, Ph.D. and Glen Laine, Ph.D. developed an exceptionally productive program using sophisticated acute and chronic large animal preparation to explore the issues of cardiopulmonary fluid balance/transfer.
Middle Years (1994-2004): While Dr. Laine had moved to Texas A&M University to become Chairman of the Department of Veterinary Physiology, Steve Allen, M.D. became a driving force in the Center. New collaborations were established with the University of Cologne (Chair: E. deVive), Department of Cardiac Surgery. Uwe Mehlhorn, M.D. became the first of many Cardiac Surgery Residents to become post-doctoral fellows in Houston. This collaboration lead to important observations on the effects of myocardial edema on myocardial function after cardiopulmonary bypass/cardioplegic arrest. Numerous trainees followed (Hans Geissler, M.D., John Frederick, M.D., Matthew Murray, M.D., Billy Hodge, D.V.M.). Robert Drake, Ph.D. continued his work in CHF induced pulmonary fibrosis, collaborating with Marie-Francoise Doursout, Ph.D.
Current Period (2004-Present): While the Center continues an active program on myocardial protection and myocardial fluid balance, the emphasis has shifted to the study of resuscitation induced gut edema. The approach has been to identify the cellular mechanisms of smooth muscle contractile dysfunction that occur as a result of interstitial edema. Steve Allen, M.D. has subsequently moved to become CEO of Columbus Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Robert Drake, Ph.D. passed away in 2006 after a long illness. Currently, Charles S. Cox, Jr., M.D. and Karen Uray, Ph.D. are continuing the work in this area, collaborating with the Trauma Research Center in the Department of Surgery, the DeBakey Institute at Texas A&M University, and the Center for Engineered Microtherapeutics.
The Center for Microvascular and Lymphatic Studies focuses on mechanisms of edema-induced organ dysfunction. These studies are at the whole animal, isolated organ tissues/cell culture levels. The range of preparations allow the study of factors affecting transvascular fluid flux and the lymphatic removal tissue fluid, organ function, and cellular mechanisms of edema induced organ dysfunction. We have focused on three main organ systems (brain, heart, intestine).
Heart: The Center maintains a close collaborative relationship with the DeBakey Institute at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine. We have focused on the effects of cardiopulmonary bypass and cardioplegic arrest on myocardial edema development and resolution. More recently, we have explored the effects of gut derived lymph on myocardial function after gut ischemia/reperfusion.
Intestine: Resuscitation-induced gut edema complicates massive crystalloid infusion for hemorrhagic shock. Our laboratory effort has been focused on describing the mechanisms by which the rapid accumulation of interstitial fluid affects intestinal function (transit and smooth muscle contractility).
Brain: Cerebral edema is a highly morbid complication of traumatic brain injury (TBI). In collaboration with our cellular therapy program, we have sought to characterize the TBI regional microenvironment in terms of pro-inflammatory mediators/edema development. These data will be useful preclinical studies for determining the timing of progenitor cellular therapeutics for TBI.