Susannah E. Nicholson, M.D., MS  |  Email

Assistant Professor / Research, Division of Trauma and Emergency Surgery

Dr. Nicholson earned a BS in Biology with Distinction at Duke University in 2000 where she graduated cum laude. She completed her medical degree at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 2005 and her General Surgery residency in 2013. During her residency, she also completed a research fellowship, earned a Master’s degree in Clinical Investigation (UT Health San Antonio, 2009) and was awarded a NIH Loan Repayment Award for her research in the role of endogenous carbon monoxide and hemoperitoneum following trauma. She completed a fellowship in Surgical Critical Care at UT Health San Antonio in 2014 and is board certified in General Surgery. Dr. Nicholson’s current research focuses on the role of the innate immune system and inflammation in trauma patients. She was awarded a Mentored Research Career Development Award in Clinical & Translational Science in 2014 for her research evaluating the relationship between inflammation and intracellular components released into the circulation following cellular injury called Damage-associated molecular proteins (DAMPs) and patient outcome. Additionally, she has research interests in the microbiome of critically ill and injured patients, trauma systems, geriatric trauma, and pediatric trauma.

Ross E. Willis, Ph.D.  |  Email

Associate Professor  |  Director of Surgical Education  |  Director, Johnson Center for Surgical Innovation

Dr. Willis holds a master’s degree in human factors psychology and a doctoral degree in cognitive psychology from Texas Tech University. Dr. Willis’s primary roles are curriculum development and evaluation and conducting research on applying principles of learning theory to the world of surgical education.

Cross-appointed Surgery Research Faculty

Ken M. Hargreaves, D.D.S., Ph.D.  |  Email

Professor and Chair of Endodontics  |  Professor of Pharmacology and Physiology

Dr. Hargreaves’ primary research interests are in the pharmacology of pain and inflammation. A major focus is on pharmacological regulation of unmyelinated “C” fiber nociceptors, as well as their plasticity in response to inflammation or nerve injury. Investigations are in progress evaluating the effects of cannabinoids, opioids, adrenergics, NPY, sex steroids and other drugs on regulating the activity of these fibers. In addition, his lab is working to identify major classes of inflammatory mediators and associated receptor/signal transduction systems which mediate activation, sensitization and phenotypic plasticity of these primary afferent fibers in response to tissue inflammation. Responses are measured using isolated superfused tissue, primary trigeminal cultures, microdialysis probes implanted in situ, RIA, EIA, real time PCR, Affymetrex analyses, IHC, ISH, confocal microscopy, behavior, etc..

Phone: 210-567-3381

Joel Michalek, Ph.D.  |  Email

Professor, Center for Epidemiology and Statistics  |  Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Research: Dr. Michalek has 30 years experience in the analysis and reporting of clinical and epidemiological studies and 20 years experience as a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry. He has published papers in statistical methodology, clinical trials, and epidemiology, and his current interests include methods to analyze survival and count data in cross-over studies.

Phone: 210-567-0886  |  Fax: 210-567-0921


The research administration office is responsible for research development and funding, fiscal monitoring, and compliance with institutional, funding source and federal guidelines related to research throughout the Surgery Department. Staff members are available to assist in all phases of grant application production, processing, implementation and reporting. The office is located in 227L.

  • Developing a departmental infrastructure
  • Developing new research initiatives
  • Providing new financial oversight for funded projects
  • Coordinating research-related resources
  • Conducting research faculty and staff development initiatives
  • Ensuring research compliance
  • Coordinating research initiatives for residents and students