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Pitt to lead trauma network, up to $90M in Department of Defense-funded trauma research

October 19, 2016

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 19, 2016 - The University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences has been awarded a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) contract that could lead to $90 million in research over the next decade to improve trauma care for both civilians and military personnel.

The contract will launch with a $10.8 million project to create a nationwide network of trauma systems and centers capable of conducting detailed research to improve military trauma care. The Linking Investigations in Trauma and Emergency Services (LITES) Network will include extensive data collection to obtain and link information covering pre-hospital care through recovery after discharge on potentially thousands of trauma cases across the country.

"Our immediate goal is to characterize what our network can do by obtaining intensive data from the pre-hospital and in-hospital settings, which is beyond what is normally obtained by trauma centers across the country," said Jason L. Sperry, M.D., M.P.H., principal investigator, professor of surgery and critical care medicine at Pitt's School of Medicine, and trauma surgeon at UPMC. "Our sense is that after approximately two years of accruing large amounts of data, we'll be able to launch subsequent projects at the DOD's request--including the gold standard: randomized clinical trials--to find out what approach to care works best to keep people who are injured in a trauma from dying."

In its initial project, the LITES Network is expected to provide epidemiological data on moderate and severe injuries in the U.S. and identify any regional variations in the types of injuries and the way they're managed.

"The LITES network will allow us to study the continuum of trauma care from the first emergency medical services contact through the emergency department and on to the operating rooms and intensive care units," said Frank X. Guyette, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of emergency medicine in Pitt's School of Medicine, medical director of STAT MedEvac, and co-principal investigator of LITES. "The lessons learned through this project will teach us how to better care for ill and injured civilians and protect our soldiers in the future."

A recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report determined that the lives of hundreds of U.S. service members could likely be saved in future wars if trauma care were optimal, and that those gains would lead to tens of thousands of civilian lives saved if such improvements were shared with U.S. trauma centers.

"That report set a bold goal to achieve zero preventable deaths after injury and minimal trauma-related disability," said Dr. Sperry. "Serendipitously, the LITES Network has the potential to spur research that will lead to clinical advancements to achieve that ambitious goal."

The University of Pittsburgh previously has collaborated with the University of Colorado and Oregon Health & Science University, and due to their integrated research approach and clinical trial experience, these three institutions will provide the trauma leadership necessary for the successful execution of the clinical trial network. The initial study also will use five other trauma centers: the University of Texas at Houston, Vanderbilt University, University of Louisville, Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Arizona. Additional trauma centers from across the country will be involved in subsequent studies, including the University of Pennsylvania, University of Utah, University of Texas Southwestern and the University of Florida. The Pitt Graduate School of Public Health's Epidemiology Data Center will be the data coordinating center, while the Multidisciplinary Acute Care Research Organization at Pitt will be the clinical coordinating center.

Unlike most multi-center studies of this magnitude, LITES Network projects will be made more efficient by relying on a central Institutional Review Board at Pitt. This will allow the network more flexibility to respond quickly to specific DOD project requests.

The Coalition for National Trauma Research, composed of six leading trauma-related organizations, will be a key partner in the project by providing expertise in advocacy and strategic planning.

The LITES Network contract follows an established track record of Pitt successfully producing valuable results for the DOD, including the Prehospital Air Medical Plasma Trial, the Study of Tranexamic Acid During Air Medical Prehospital Trial and the Traumatic Brain Injury Endpoints Development initiative.

In addition to Drs. Sperry and Guyette, core leadership for the LITES Network include Stephen R. Wisniewski, Ph.D., and David Okonkwo, M.D., Ph.D., both of Pitt; Ernest E. Moore, M.D., of the University of Colorado; and Martin A. Schrieber, M.D., of the Oregon Health and Science University. Barbara Early, B.S.N., of Pitt, will be the program administrator.

The research activities planned under Contract No. W81XWH-16-D-0024-0001 are supported by the U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and may not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, DOD or the U.S. Government.
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About the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

The University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences include the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Graduate School of Public Health. The schools serve as the academic partner to the UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). Together, their combined mission is to train tomorrow's health care specialists and biomedical scientists, engage in groundbreaking research that will advance understanding of the causes and treatments of disease and participate in the delivery of outstanding patient care. Since 1998, Pitt and its affiliated university faculty have ranked among the top 10 educational institutions in grant support from the National Institutes of Health. For additional information about the Schools of the Health Sciences, please visit http://www.health.pitt.edu.

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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

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