Investigator Profile: Jonathan Sham, MD, MBEE

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Portrait photo of Dr. Jonathan Sham

Jonathan Sham, MD, MBEE

Assistant Professor, Division of General Surgery

Pancreas surgery gives patients the best chance for a potential cure, but the procedure doesn't come without risks. The most significant complication after pancreatic surgery is a postoperative pancreatic fistula, which occurs in up to 50% of cases. Many surgical and pharmacologic interventions have been trialed to reduce the rate of pancreatic fistulas, unfortunately, none have proven effective. Our lab is working on a different approach, using advanced biotechnology to mitigate and prevent pancreas leaks. Our lab is creating novel, biocompatible, biodegradable, drug-eluting polymers to seal pancreatic leakage and decrease pancreatic fluid secretion to improve patient outcomes. This work has shown great promise and we hope to rapidly bring our technology from bench to bedside.


Anatomic diagram of the rat pancreatobiliary tree image

Anatomic diagram of the rat pancreatobiliary tree used in our studies.

Dr. Jonathan Sham research investigator drug eluting microspheres

Scanning electron microscopy of drug-eluting microspheres. These allows for local, controlled release of medications that otherwise might cause systemic toxicity.

Application of novel biopolymer (white) to rat pancreas in an animal model of pancreatic leak image

Application of novel biopolymer (white) to rat pancreas in an animal model of pancreatic leak.
(Images from: Utria, et al. Lab Anim. 2022. PMID: 35765854.)


Our group is also heavily involved in clinical research, recently publishing a phase II clinical trial evaluating the use of lanreotide to prevent postoperative pancreatic fistula. Dr. Sham is in the process of leading and developing a multi-center phase III randomized trial through the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) to further evaluate the intervention. He has been awarded the prestigious Coltman Fellowship from the Hope Foundation for Cancer Research to further this work.