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Halsted's Hands - Update on Halsted Residents: Joshua Wolf

Halsted's Hands Spring 2012

Update on Halsted Residents: Joshua Wolf

Date: May 30, 2012

Joshua Wolf
Joshua Wolf

During his first two years of surgical residency at Johns Hopkins, Joshua Wolf became interested in transplantation and the fact that inflammation induced by acute ischemia-reperfusion injury can lead to long-term liver damage, threatening the viability of donated organs.

With an American Society of Transplant Surgeons Roche Laboratory Scientist Award and a spot in the lab of the University of Pennsylvania’s Kim Olthoff, a well-recognized name in liver transplant research, Wolf headed north to study the role that enzymes called histone/protein deacetylases (HDAC) play in liver ischemic injury. During his first year of research, Wolf and his Penn colleagues found that mice undergoing partial liver ischemia-reperfusion injury who were given the HDAC inhibitors Trichostatin A and MS275 had a significant decrease in histologic injury, including markedly less necrosis, vacuolization and inflammatory substances. A poster he presented last spring at the American Transplant Congress meeting suggested that HDAC inhibitors may modulate key events following ischemia-reperfusion injury and prevent chronic changes that compromise long-term liver function.

From there he’s been trying to clarify the specific HDACs responsible for liver damage and whether these same HDACs play a role in regeneration after a portion of liver is removed. A handful of transplant centers including Johns Hopkins have performed partial-liver lobe transplants from live donors.

The experience of doing two years of research “is an invaluable opportunity to think rigorously about science,” Wolf says. “The ability to take an experiment and really delve into it and dissect it is a skill I was happy to gain and one that I know will help in many aspects of clinical and surgical practice.”

Wolf will return to Baltimore in July with added expertise and a new family member: His wife, Risa, gave birth to daughter Shira in January. Risa Wolf will join Hopkins as a pediatric endocrinology fellow.

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