Translational research, or applying basic discoveries to transform therapeutics and diagnostics that directly impact patient care, is a driving force behind the work at Georgetown University Medical Center. Georgetown researchers have made significant contributions to the advancement of science and health care.
1952: Artificial Heart Valve
Charles Hufnagel, MD, professor of experimental surgery, developed the artificial heart valve in 1952 and performed the first artificial valve implantation surgery the following year.
The single-letter code for amino acids is one of the most widely used codes in biology and the field of bioinformatics. Working in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics at GUMC, Margaret Dayhoff, PhD, created the single-letter code and pioneered the field of bioinformatics.
Alfred Luessenhop, MD, former chief of neurosurgery, and William Spence, MD, a neurosurgeon at Georgetown developed a technique that used a plastic pellet to reduce the potentially fatal flow of blood from an enlarged artery, creating the field of intravascular surgery.
1973: Full-Body Scanner
Robert Ledley, DDS, developed the full-body scanner, the first computer assisted tomography (CAT) scanner for any part of the body. It had a revolutionary impact on diagnostic medicine.
Richard Verrier, PhD, former professor of pharmacology, and colleague, Bruce Nearing, PhD, invented the T-Wave Alternans Test, a dynamic, non-invasive method to track and diagnose T- wave alternans, which are periodic variations between heartbeats that can put a patient at risk for fatal arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.
1990s: First Diagnostic Test for HPV
Microbiologist Wayne Lancaster, PhD, (pictured) and pathologist Alfred Bennett Jensen, MD, developed the first diagnostic test for HPV, which when administered during a routine Pap test significantly increases the cervical cancer detection rate and, as a result, has reduced death rates from this disease.
The first “cancer vaccine” in the world, Gardisil, was developed based on research by Richard Schlegel, MD, PhD, with Shin-je Ghim, PhD, and Alfred Bennett Jensen, MD, at Georgetown.
Conditional Reprogramming, developed by Richard Schlegel, MD, PhD, is an innovative technology dubbed the “Georgetown Method.” It allows scientists to grow normal and neoplastic epithelial cells in a completely new way.