Cancer Research

Technique and technology are critical when it comes to cancer surgery. But both aspects often get trumped by a tumor’s unique biology. To be a top cancer surgeon, you need a deep understanding of cancer biology.

From his early days studying stem cells to treat cancer, Dr. Claudius Conrad has pursued a deeper understanding of cancer. He has guided his research groups to not only improve minimally invasive cancer surgery, but to explore mechanisms of the disease. As a result, they have successfully translated their findings into clinical care and continue fine-tuning new cancer therapies.

Working With Industry on Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary (HPB) Research

To best help future patients, Dr. Conrad believes that partnering with the medical industry can provide the infrastructure, technology and other support researchers need. He also encourages industry to reach out to physician investigators as soon as possible, to identify unmet needs and make sure novel developments remain clinically relevant.

To date, Dr. Conrad has helped develop:

  • 3D cameras and augmented reality for the operating room

  • Novel energy tools to seal blood vessels more effectively during operations

  • New devices for liver surgery

  • Surgery planning software to construct virtual livers, with precise volume and anatomy

  • Fluorescence guided surgery

We’re trying to bring innovation to the bedside as quickly as possible."

Cancer Research Leadership

In addition to studying how HPB tumors form and evolve, Dr. Conrad leads research into:

  • Improving minimally invasive HPB surgery Dr. Conrad and his team have crafted more than a dozen new procedures to treat the liver, gallbladder, spleen and pancreas. They’ve done so using both laparoscopic tools and robotic assistance. They’re also working with augmented reality in surgery, special (fluorescent) imaging to capture biological processes and surgeries that more precisely follow organ anatomy.

  • Predicting outcomes for HPB cancers Dr. Conrad’s team is looking at which factors may influence how patients with liver, pancreatic or biliary cancers respond to treatment. Potential factors include tumor markers, gene mutations, surgical quality and complications, lymph node involvement, and demographic and societal differences.

  • Refining cancer data Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNETs) are particularly aggressive but have few known mutations, an unusual feature. Dr. Conrad’s group is exploring if the tumors’ growth and frequent spread to the liver comes from genes turning on and off (epigenetics) rather than mutations.

  • Determining how colorectal cancer spreads Stem cells called CD26+ appear to guide colorectal cancer to other specific organs, with an ability to evade chemotherapy.

  • Developing new cancer therapies Dr. Conrad’s team is conducting basic science investigations on novel therapeutics, including potential immunotherapies.