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Professor of Surgery
Degrees and Designations: M.S., Ph.D.

Mailing Address:
East Carolina University
Brody School of Medicine
Department of Surgery
Greenville, NC 27858-4354

Current Professional and Academic Appointments
Professor of Surgery, ECU School of Medicine 2005
Associate Professor of Surgery, ECU School of Medicine 1996
Adjunct Appointment, Department of Microbiology & Immunology 1995

Medical Education

Kalamazoo College BA 1977

Iowa State University MS 1977- 1979
University of Iowa Ph.D. 1986

Special Interests
Detection of breast cancer micrometases, vascular endothelial cell biology, xenogeneic immune responses, gene therapy.

Research Activities

  • Polymerase Chain Reaction and the Detection of Breast Cancer Metastases in Sentinel Lymph Nodes; (supported by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, Clinical Translational Research Grant and Career Development Award)
  • The role of vascular endothelium in cell-mediated xenogeneic responses
  • Vascular endothelial cell homing to sites of neoangiogenesis
  • The role of vascular endothelium in cell-mediated xenogenic responses
  • Vascular endothelial cell homing to sites of neoangiogenesis
  • The role of anti-donor antibody and cytokine gene polymorphisms in renal allograft rejection

Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications
Verbanac KM, Carver FM, Haisch CE, Thomas JM. A Role for Transforming Growth Factor-Beta in the Veto Mechanism in Transplant Tolerance. Transplantation 1994; 57:893-900.

Tafra, L, Lannin,D, Swanson, MS, VanEyk, J, Verbanac, KM, et al. (2001) “Multicenter trial of sentinel node biopsy for breast cancer using both technetium sulfur colloid and isosulfan blue dye”, Annals of Surg 233(1):51-59.

Coleman TS, Pittman HK, Purser S, Haisch CE, Verbanac KM (2001) “Human T cell - porcine endothelial cell interactions induce human T1 cytokines and porcine activation markers”, Journal of Surgical Research 97:184-191.

Verbanac KM. “Molecular Detection of Breast Cancer Markers” (2001) Molecular Diagnosis 6(2):73-77.

Tafra L, Verbanac KM., Swanson MS and Lannin DR. (2001) “Preoperative chemotherapy and sentinel lymphadenectomy for breast cancer”, American Journal of Surgery 182:312-315.

Posekany K, Pittman HK, Bradfield JF, Haisch CE, Verbanac K. (2002) “Induction of cytolytic anti-gal antibodies in alpha 1,3 galactosyltransferase gene knock-out mice by oral inoculation with Escherichia coli 086.B7 bacteria” , Infection and Immunity 70(11):6215-6222.

Posekany K, Pittman HK, Swansons MS, Haisch CE, Verbanac K. (2004) “Suppression of Lewis Lung Carcinoma Tumor Development in Alpha 1,3 Galactosyltransferase Knock-Out Mice”, Anticancer Res 24(2B): 605-612.

Storey BT, Pittman HK, Christian JF, Haisch CE, Verbanac KM. (2004)“Characterization of Lewis lung clonal variants in a model of syngeneic pulmonary murine metastases”, Clin Exp Metastasis 21(3):265-73; Erratum in: Clin Exp Metastasis 21(7):663.

Rebellato L, Verbanac KM, Haisch CE (2005) “The current status of xenotransplanta-tion”, Current Surgery 62(5):481-488.

Backus J, Laughlin T, Wang Y, Belly R, White R, Baden J, Min CJ, Mannie A, Tafra L, Atkins D, Verbanac KM. (2005) “Identification and Characterization of Optimal Gene Expression Markers for Detection of Breast Cancer Metastasis”, Journal of Molecular Diagnostics 7(3):327-336.

Mannie A, Cheng Z, Sawyer K, Tafra L Verbanac K. (2006) Combined use of blood tests and imaging for detection of subclinical breast cancer recurrence, AACR Highlights: Clinical and Translational Cancer Research at the 2006 Meeting,  #3613, p.153;  Proceedings of the American Association of Cancer Research 47:3613.

Joshi MU, Pittman HK, Haisch CE, Verbanac, KM. (2008) “Real Time PCR to Determine Transgene Copy Number and to Quantitate the Biolocalization of Adoptively-transferred Cells from EGFP-Transgenic Mice”, BioTechniques 45(3):247-258.

Reed J, Verbanac K. Mannie A, Cheng Z, Rosman M, Tafra L. (2009) “Prognostic Implications of Isolated Tumor Cells and Micrometastases in Sentinel Nodes of Patients with Invasive Breast Cancer: 10-year Analysis of Patients Enrolled in the Prospective ECU/AAMC Sentinel Node Multicenter Study”, Journal of the American College of Surgeons 208:333-340.

Hollowell K, Olmsted C, Richardson A, Pittman, HK, Bellin L, Tafra L, Verbanac KM. (2010) "ASCO-recommended Surveillance and Physician Specialty among Long-term Breast Cancer Survivors," Cancer: 116(9):2090-2098.

Verbanac K, Min CJ, Mannie AE, Lu J, O'Brien K, Rosman, M, Tafra L (2010) "Long Term Follow-up Study of a Prospective Multicenter Sentinel Node Trial: Molecular Detection of Breast Cancer Sentinel Node Metastases", Annals of Surgical Oncology 17:S368-377.

Weber J, Bellin L, Milbourn D, Verbanac K, Wong J. (2012) Selective Preoperative Magnetic Resonance Imaging Does Not Reduce the Reoperation Rate in Operative Breast Cancer", Archives of Surgery 147(9):834-9.

Selected Book Chapters
Verbanac KM, Rebellato LM and Haisch CE. (2006) "The Immune System and the Immunocompromised Patient", in Modern Surgical Care: Physiologic Foundations and Clinical Applications (Thomas Miller, Ed., 3rd edition), Informa Healthcare, New York, Volume 1, pp65-90.

RebellatoKM, Ozawa M, Verbanac KM, Catrou P, Haisch C and TerasakiP (2007) “Clinical and Anti-HLA Antibody Profile of Nine Renal Transplant Recipients with Failed Grafts:  Donor-specific and Non Donor-Specific Antibody Development”, in Clinical Transplants 2006 (JM Cecka and PI Terasaki, Eds.,) UCLA Immunogenetics Center, pp241-253.

Selected National/Regional Presentations
American Transplant Congress, Boston, MA  “In vivo localization of exogenous endothelial cells and bone marrow cells to damaged endothelium”, Verbanac KM, Pittman HK, Storey BT, Haisch, CE; May, 2004 (oral presentation).

Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, New Orleans, LA, “Clinical Significance of PCR-detected metastases in sentinel nodes of breast cancer patients: An Interim Report” Verbanac KM, Min CJ, Mannie AE, Tafra L; June 5-8, 2004 (poster/discussion).


Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, San Antonio, TX  “Multimarker quantitative RT-PCR detects nodal metastases in recurrent patients enrolled in multicenter sentinel node trial, Verbanac KM. Min CJ, Mannie AE, Moreland M, Tafra L; December 9, 2004 (oral presentation, General Session).


Dept. of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program ERA OF HOPE Meeting , Philadelphia, PAVerbanac KM. Min CJ, Mannie AE, Moreland M, Tafra L. (2005) “RT-PCR detects clinically significant nodal metastases in patients enrolled in multicenter sentinel node trial”,June 2005 (oral presentation). 


Invited participant, Maryland Breast Research Collaborative Event, Annapolis, MD, “Successful collaboration: A Scientist’s Perspective”, September 24, 2006 (oral presentation). 


Invited participant, Carol Warner Symposium, Northeastern University, Boston, MA “From Embryos to Stem Cells“, October 15, 2006. (oral presentation). 


Invited presentation, Anne Arundel Medical Center Breast Center, Annapolis, MD “Molecular tools for the improved detection of breast cancer metastases:  2006 Update on a multicenter clinical trial”, December 8, 2006 (oral presentation). 


Reed J, Verbanac KM, Sawyer K, Moreland M, Cheng ZH, TafraL , M Rosman. Prognostic implications of isolated tumor cells and micrometastases in sentinel nodes of patients with invasive breast cancer, American Society of Breast Disease (31st annual symposium, April 12-14, 2007(poster).


Rosman, M., Sawyer, K., Cheng, Z., Verbanac, K., Tafra, L. 2007. “Prognostic Determinants in Sentinel Lymph Node Negative Patients with Breast Cancer,” 2007 ASCO Breast Cancer Symposium, June 2007 (poster).

Verbanac K, Mannie A, Lu J, Fleming T, Nolan B, Lokshin A, Tafra L. "Circulating CA27.29 and Mammaglobin Identify Metastases Prior to Clinical Recurrence in a Prospective Study,"  Proceedings from the Dept. of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program ERA OF HOPE Meeting , Baltimore, MD, June 2008.  

Joshi M, Pittman HK, Haisch CE, Verbanac KM. "Adoptively-transferred Vascular Endothelial Cells Localize to Tumor Vasculature in a Murine Model: Role of E-selectin and SDF-1alpha," Program and Abstracts from the National Cancer Institute meeting: Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy: Realizing the Promise,  Poster #82, p.118, Bethesda MD, September 11-12 2008.  

Olmsted C, Richardson A, Hollowell K, Bellin L, Verbanac KM. "A Need for Providers to Consistently Follow Current Surveillance Guidelines for Breast Cancer Survivors",  North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, Asheville, NC, December 4-7, 2008. (Recipient, Best Research Poster Award)  

Wilson T, Mylander C, Rosman M, Verbanac K, Tafra L. "Does Everyone With Invasive Breast Cancer Need A Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy?" (2009) Proceedings of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, p.84 (  

 Hollowell K, Olmsted C, Richardson A, Bellin L, Tafra L, Verbanac KM. (2009) "Specialists provide more consistent and comprehensive ASCO-recommended surveillance of breast cancer survivors than primary care physicians", 2009 Proceedings of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, p.51 (  

Bellin L, Hollowell K, Dobbs L, Verbanac K, Behrans C, Fitzgerald T, Zervos E. "Gene Expression Profiles in Synchronous Breast Cancer," 2009 Proceedings of the ASCO Breast Cancer Symposium (   

Imes D, Meyers J, Joshi M, Pittman K, Verbanac K, "Do Neutrophils Establish a Pre-Metastatic Niche?", in press, Journal of North Carolina Academy of Sciences (First place, Derieux Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, 2010Collegiate Academy of  the North Carolina Academy of Sciences)  

Verbanac K, Min CJ, Mannie AE, Lu J, Vos P, Tafra L, ECU/AAMC Sentinel Node Study Group.  "Long Term Follow-up Study of a Multicenter Sentinel Node Trial: Molecular Detection of Sentinel Node Metastases Predicts Distant Recurrence," 2010 Proceedings of the American Society of Breast Cancer (oral presentation) (

Cope-Meyers J, Imes D, Phillips Z, Pittman HK Milbourn D, Howard IV G, Verbanac KM.  "Tumor-infiltrating Pro-tumor Neutrophils May Contribute to the Pre-metastatic Niche."  AACR Special Conference: Tumor Microenvironment Complexity: Emerging Roles in Cancer Therapy 2011

Former Students

Undergraduate Students
Former: Julie Means, Tanya Eastman, Courtney Boyce, Emma Hardison, Angela Gould, Amanda Gould, Kelly Gould, Steve Genovese, Angela Krebs (Fulbright scholar), Jered Cope Meyers
Dare Imes. Recipient, 2010 Derieux Research Award; First Place for excellence in undergraduate research, Collegiate Academy North Carolina Academy of Sciences

M.S. Students
1998       C. Justus Min, M.S. Biology.  Thesis: Identification of Superior Markers for the RT-PCR Detection of Breast Cancer micrometastases.   Recipient, 2002 Helms Research Award   MD: 2007, The Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University   Private practice, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

2001       Tia Coleman, M.S. Biology.  Thesis: In vitro characterization of human anti-porcine xenogeneic cellular immune responses.    Recipient, 2002 Helms Student Research Award. Dean, Mitchell Community College, Statesville, NC

2005       Allison Call, M.S. Biology.  Thesis: The role of ELR chemokines in angiogenesis and vascular repair.Recipient, 2005 Best Oral Presentation East Campus, ECU Graduate Student Research Day and Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society Grant-In-AidTransferred to Masters of Science in Nursing                                

2011       George Howard IV, MS Biology                               

Doctoral Students
1999       Karla J. Posekany, Ph.D. Microbiology & Immunology.  Thesis: Evaluation of alpha 1,3 Galactosyltransferase for Cancer Gene Therapy. Recipient, Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society Grant-In-Aid

2002       Bill T. Storey, PhD. Physiology. Thesis: Vascular Endothelial Cell Homing to Sites of  NeoangiogenesisRecipient, 2001 Volkman Award, Best Poster Presentation, ECU Graduate Student Research Day.  J.D: 2008, Arizona State University School of Law              

2010       Molishree Joshi, Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Biomedical Sciences. Thesis: The Role of SDF-1α as a Vasculogenic Chemokine and Endothelium-Associated Cell Adhesion Molecule for the Recruitment of Bone Marrow-Derived Progenitor Cells to Developing Tumors.  Postdoctoral Associate, University of Colorado at Denver               

Surgical Residents
1996       Brian Hoey MD    Surgeon & Residency Program Director, St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network, Bethlehem, PA,  University of Pennsylvania System

1998       Clint Atkinson MD    Vascular Surgeon, Pinehurst, NC

1999       Joseph Franklin MD    Recipient, 2001 ECU Minges Surgical Resident Research Award. Plastic Surgeon, Greenville, NC.                                           

2008       Kerry Hollowell MD    PGY1, Department of Family Medicine, East Carolina University                                            

2011       Joseph Weber MD    PGY4, Department of Surgery, East Carolina University                             

Medical Students
2007       Anne Richardson, MD 2010    Recipient, Mathis AwardRecipient, Irons Humanitarian Award                               

2008       Courtney Olmsted, MD 2011    Recipient, Best Medical Student Research Award    North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians
Winter Meeting 2008    Recipient, Irons Humanitarian Award 2011

2010       David Milbourn, MD Class of 2013    Winner, 2011 National Medical Students Research Competition    American College of Physicians

2011       Zachary Phillips, MD Class of 2014

2012       Hunter Story, MD Class of 2015

Honors and Other Professional Activities
American Association of Immunology; American Society of Transplantation, American Association of Cancer Research; Women in Cancer Research

Reviewer, Transplantation, Leukemia, Molecular Diagnosis, Current Surgery, Cancer Immunol &      Immunotherapy 

Reviewer, American Heart Association, North Carolina Affiliate, 1995-97

Reviewer, American Heart Association Mid-Atlantic Peer Review Consortium, 1998-2002.
Recipient, Helms Faculty Research Award, East Carolina University, 2002

Recipient, Wolff-Hulka Innovators Award, University of North Carolina 5th Annual Women’s Health Research Day, The Center for Women’s Health Research, 2004

Ad hoc member, Integration Panel, DOD Breast Cancer Research Program, 2006, 2007

Reviewer, Transplantation, Leukemia, Molecular Diagnosis, Current Surgery, Cancer Immunol & Immunotherapy , Journal of Pathology, Journal of Molecular Diagnostics

East Carolina University Scholar Teacher award, 2008.

East Carolina University Chancellor’s Leadership Academy, 2008

Recipient, Brody Women Faculty Career Development Award, 2009

"It Just Takes One" teacher/mentor award from graduating undergraduate, 2011  

Advisory Board, BRIDGES Academic Leadership Program, 2012  

Brody Women Faculty Advocacy Award, 2012