Current Resident Investigators

Katherine Killian, DO                                                                                                                Pathology

Medical School: Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine
Mentor: Tim Oury, MD, PhD

Research Summary:

Dr. Killian is investigating the role of the receptor for advanced glycation endproducts (RAGE) in lung disease and are nearing the end of the data gathering portion of our research. Currently, she has two experiments remaining: 1) a timed-trial with mice scheduled to begin on November 15 and 2) a flow-analysis scheduled to begin on December 6. Once the experiments are completed, Dr. Killian will being interpreting and translating her findings into a manuscript.

Additionally, during the necessary interlude between mice colony maturation, Dr. Killian has been working on a project with her mentor, Dr. Tim Oury, and the National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank (NMVB). She has submitted an abstract to the American Thoracic Society reporting on 106 professed asbestos exposure cases with asbestos body and fiber analysis. Building on this collection of cases, she is also currently working on a proposal with the NMVB to collaborate their data with their tissue bank to determine a molecular profile for mesotheliomas that arise due to asbestos exposure versus spontaneous/idiopathic mesotheliomas.

Dr. Killian’s future plans are to publish a first-author article on her RAGE research and prepare grant proposals for either a K38 or K01 that will allow her to pursue a career as a physician scientist.

Harnoor Mann, MD                                                                                                                     Medicine

Medical School: Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
Mentor: Jared Magnani, MD, MSc, and Amber Johnson, MD, MBA, MS

Research Summary:

Dr. Mann’s primary area of interest is the relation between social determinants of health (SDOH) and cardiovascular disease, particularly the common, chronic cardiac condition of atrial fibrillation (AF). She is specifically interested in rurality as a SDOH, given her personal background and upbringing in a rural area. SDOH are integral to cardiovascular disorders and yet investigation of rurality’s effects on AF remains limited. Dr. Mann’s research will identify rural-residing patients’ experience of AF and examine associations between rurality and AF management, cardiovascular morbidity, and mortality. These activities will support her development of qualitative and quantitative skills and further her capacity to initiate interventions that promote health equity.

Sydney Rooney, MD                                                                                                                  Pediatrics

Medical School: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Mentor: Gilles Clermont, MD, MSc

Research Summary:

Dr. Rooney is studying the dynamic prediction of atrial fibrillation during hemodialysis using physiologic data, including waveform data, for patients in the ICU. In order to create this predictive model, Dr. Rooney is first using machine learning in order to mark atrial fibrillation events on continuously streamed telemetry data for patients previously admitted to an ICU in the UPMC hospital system. She is currently in the process of creating a preliminary version of this machine learning model in collaboration with colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University. Once this model is validated, she will create a risk model for the prediction of the onset of atrial fibrillation that will update in real-time and will subsequently use that model in order to determine how early prior to an atrial fibrillation event the risk of those who later develop atrial fibrillation diverges from those that do not. Ultimately, this will help Dr. Rooney achieve her goal of predicting atrial fibrillation with enough lead time for clinicians to be able to react and potentially prevent the atrial fibrillation event.

Andrew Sayce, MD, PhD                                                                                                            Surgery

Medical School: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (PhD from University of Oxford)
Mentor: Matthew Rosengart, MD, MPH

Research Summary:

Dr. Sayce’s research aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the role of the UPR in inflammatory responses to trauma and sepsis and determine whether modulation of the UPR can alter inflammatory responses and thereby improve clinical outcomes. Trauma and surgical sepsis induce states of profound physiologic derangement requiring widespread transcriptional and translational reprogramming,1–3 and the secretory demands imposed at these times can easily overwhelm the protein processing capacity of the ER and trigger the UPR. Dr. Sayce seeks to systematically define the role of ER stress and UPR in sterile (trauma) and septic surgical disease.

Previous Resident Investigators

Jillian Bonaroti, MD                                                                                                                      Surgery

Medical School: Thomas Jefferson University
Timothy Billiar, MD, and Matthew Neal, MD

Research Summary:

Dr. Bonaroti’s research seeks to characterize the transcriptome of megakaryocytes isolated from bone marrow of trauma patients. She hypothesizes that trauma will induce transcriptional changes in the megakaryocyte and may induce previously unidentified subpopulations of megakaryocytes. Additionally, she suggests that these transcriptional changes lead to alteration in the transcriptome of the platelet, causing the known alterations in platelet function following trauma. Her project will be part of larger collaboration to study human samples from deceased trauma patients for which she will gather blood, bone marrow, and tissue samples from these patients from the CORE facility. After processing BM samples and performing flow cytometry to sort out megakaryocytes, Dr. Bonaroti will use bulk RNA-seq and single cell RNA sequencing to characterize the megakaryocyte transcriptome.


Wu J, Moheimani H, Li S, Kar UK, Bonaroti J, Miller RS, Daley BJ, Harbrecht BG, Claridge JA, Gruen DS, Phelan HA, Guyette FX, Neal MD, Das J, Sperry JL, Billiar TR. High Dimensional Multi-omics Reveals Unique Characteristics of Early Plasma Administration in Polytrauma Patients with TBI. Ann Surg. 2022 Jul 21. PMID: 35861072.

Bonaroti J, Abdelhamid S, Kar U, Sperry J, Zamora R, Namas RA, McKinley T, Vodovotz Y, Billiar T. The Use of Multiplexing to Identify Cytokine and Chemokine Networks in the Immune-Inflammatory Response to Trauma. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2021 Dec;35(16):1393-1406. PMID: 33860683; PMCID: PMC8905234.

Fu G, Chen T, Wu J, Jiang T, Tang D, Bonaroti J, Conroy J, Scott MJ, Deng M, Billiar TR. Single-Cell Transcriptomics Reveals Compartment-Specific Differences in Immune Responses and Contributions for Complement Factor 3 in Hemorrhagic Shock Plus Tissue Trauma. Shock. 2021 Dec 1;56(6):994-1008. PMID: 33710107; PMCID: PMC8429528.

Bonaroti JW, Zenati MS, Al-Abbas AI, Rieser CJ, Zureikat AH, Hogg ME, Zeh HJ, Boone BA. Impact of postoperative pancreatic fistula on long-term oncologic outcomes after pancreatic resection. HPB (Oxford). 2021 Aug;23(8):1269-1276. PMID: 33526357; PMCID: PMC8282784.

Current Position:

Resident, Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh

Tiffany Brazile, MD                                                                                                                      Medicine

Medical School: Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth College
Samir Saba, MD, and Suresh Mulukutla, MD

Research Summary:

Dr. Brazile conducted a retrospective cohort study to evaluate the presence of an “obesity paradox” in cardiomyopathy patients with respect to all-cause mortality, hospitalizations, and specifically cardiac hospitalizations. Results were stratified by ejection fraction to determine whether the protective effect of having an elevated BMI is present regardless of degree of left ventricular dysfunction. This study also evaluated the effect of ICD implantation on patient mortality as stratified by BMI and ejection fraction. Dr. Brazile also engaged in a retrospective study of patients from the UPMC multi-site dataset to evaluate high-risk patients with diagnosis of STEMI based on diagnostic codes who underwent primary PCI.


Brazile T, Barakat AF, Bukhari S, Schelbert EB, Soman P. A 25-Year-Old Man with Refractory Schizophrenia and Clozapine-Induced Myocarditis Diagnosed by Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance. Am J Case Rep. 2021 May 15;22:e930103. PMID: 33990535; PMCID: PMC8130977.

Brazile T, Mulukutla S, Thoma F, Estes NAM 3rd, Jain S, Saba S. Inverse association of mortality and body mass index in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction of both ischemic and non-ischemic etiologies. Clin Cardiol. 2021 Apr;44(4):495-500. PMID: 33675050; PMCID: PMC8027570.

Current Position:

Cardiology Fellow and T32 Scholar, Department of Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern

Erin Schikowski, MD                                                                                                                   Medicine

Medical School: University of Rochester School of Medicine
 Stephen Chan, MD, PhD, and Jared Magnani, MD, MSc

Research Summary:

Using a national administrative claims database, Dr. Schikowski conducted a retrospective cohort study looking at the relationship between annual household income and likelihood of receiving right heart catheterization for patients with a diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension. She found that those making less than $40,000 were 19.5% less likely to receive right heart catheterization than those making $100,000 or more. She is currently preparing a manuscript based on these results for submission to JAMA Cardiology. Additionally, Dr. Schikowski is also using the same administrative claims database to conduct a similar study evaluating the relationship between copayments, deductibles, and annual household income with medication adherence in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension.


Kosanovich CM, Pi H, Handen A, Schikowski E, Chen Y, Thoma FW, Mulukutla S, Koscumb S, Nouraie M, Chan SY. Improved hospitalization rates in a specialty center for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction and pulmonary hypertension. Pulm Circ. 2022 Jun 7;12(2):10.1002/pul2.12002. PMID: 35795496; PMCID: PMC9248797.

Goobie GC, Ryerson CJ, Johannson KA, Schikowski E, Zou RH, Khalil N, Marcoux V, Assayag D, Manganas H, Fisher JH, Kolb MRJ, Gibson KF, Kass DJ, Zhang Y, Lindell KO, Nouraie SM. Neighborhood-Level Disadvantage Impacts on Patients with Fibrotic Interstitial Lung Disease. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2022 Feb 15;205(4):459-467. PMID: 34818133.

Current Position:

Resident, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh