Martin G. Schwacha, Ph.D.  |  Email

Professor, Trauma Research, UT School of Medicine San Antonio

Dr. Schwacha joins us from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he had been an Associate Professor in the Departments of Surgery, Pathology and Microbiology. He received his Ph.D. from Albany Medical College, Albany NY in 1992 and completed postdoctoral studies at the Gamble Institute, Cincinnati, OH and Temple University, Philadelphia, PA prior to joining the Surgery faculty at Brown University, Providence, RI in 1997. Dr. Schwacha’s research has been presented at numerous scientific meetings and as an invited speaker and visiting professor. He has served on a number of NIH special emphasis panels and as a science/research advisor for other professional organizations. He is a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine as well as an ad hoc reviewer for numerous other professional journals. His research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.

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.

Paula K. Shireman, M.D.  |  Email

Professor  | Vascular Surgery and Vice Dean for Research  |  Dielmann Chair in Surgery

Paula K. Shireman, M.D., MS is an academic vascular surgeon and physician-scientist in the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the South Texas Veterans Health Care System where she is a tenured Professor in the Departments of Surgery and Microbiology & Immunology, holds the Dielmann Chair in Surgery and serves as the Scientific Advisor for Clinical Trials Xpress. She obtained her M.D. from Indiana University and MS in Clinical investigation at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. Her research interests are in muscle regeneration, imaging modalities to study extremity injuries and outcomes of vascular trauma. Her health services research studies the long term outcomes of extremity vascular trauma in Active Service and Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation New Dawn as well as care transitions and health care system improvement. She is the Co-Principal Investigator of the Institutional Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) responsible for strategic partnership with our CTSA affiliated institutions, biostatistics, study design and biomedical informatics cores, and evaluation of all CTSA programs. She incorporated Lean Six Sigma methods into research administration to streamline processes and increase efficiency. Dr. Shireman has been active in the development of a centralized clinical trials office for the University of Texas System, Clinical Trials Xpress, which utilizes a centralized IRB, master clinical trial agreements and single, centrally-negotiated clinical trial budget and shared Medicare coverage analysis to improve efficiency and decrease the regulatory burden of clinical trials. She has extensive experience in team building, research and administration. Dr. Shireman has presented on two panels for the Institute of Medicine regarding sharing clinical trial data. Dr. Shireman’s research is primarily funded by the National Institutes of Health, Veterans Administration and Department of Defense.

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

LuAnn Kirk

Administrative Assistant

LuAnn has worked in the Department of Surgery for more than 20 years. She has extensive experience in preparing grants and contracts, IRB and IACUC protocols, manuscripts, and in the administrative management of laboratories. A native Texan, she works part-time for the department and is located in 227L. | Phone: 567-5882 | Fax: 567-4994