The University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Md., will serve as one of 12 core clinical centers in a newly established Extremity Trauma Clinical Research Consortium funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The consortium will work closely with several major military treatment centers and the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to conduct multi-center clinical research studies relevant to the treatment and outcomes of severe orthopaedic trauma sustained on the battlefield. These studies will help establish treatment guidelines and facilitate the translation of new and emerging technologies into clinical practice.
"This clinical research network offers us a unique opportunity to investigate treatments for a variety of injuries common in military and civilian patients," says Andrew N. Pollak, M.D., co-chair of the consortium and head of the division of orthopaedic traumatology at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center and associate professor of orthopaedics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "We needed more funding to conduct definitive studies on severe wounds to the legs and arms. The results of this research will give us better insight into the best ways to treat severe, high-impact injuries to the limbs."
Dr. Pollak, who served as chair of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' Extremity War Injury Project Team, will lead the orthopaedics studies at Shock Trauma as part of the new initiative. He has championed the need for increased funding for trauma research, citing the devastating extremity injuries suffered by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. "There is a profound need for targeted medical research to help military surgeons find new limb-sparing techniques to save injured extremities, avoid amputations and preserve and restore the function of injured extremities," he told the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee in 2007.
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will serve as the coordinating center for the consortium. The Orthopaedic Extremity Trauma Research Program (OETRP) of the Department of Defense has awarded the Bloomberg School of Public Health $18.4 million over five years to establish the consortium.
"The need for such a consortium is evident," says Ellen MacKenzie, Ph.D., principal investigator and the Fred and Julie Soper Professor and Chair of the Bloomberg School's Department of Health Policy and Management. "Eighty-two percent of all service members injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom sustain significant extremity trauma. Many sustain injuries to multiple limbs. The research to be conducted by the consortium will help us better understand what works and what doesn't in treating these injuries and ensure that our service members are provided with the best care possible."
E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says, "The University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center is internationally recognized for its expertise in caring for the most critically injured patients and is a leader in trauma research. Our faculty members will play a very active role in this new consortium, working together with trauma specialists at other centers to develop innovative new therapies to treat traumatic limb injuries."
Initial funding of the consortium will help establish the research network and provide resources to address some of the critical needs in acute clinical care identified by the military. These include the reconstruction of significant bone defects and the management of musculoskeletal infections. Over time, the consortium will expand and leverage its expertise to address many other priority topics relevant to the long-term management of severe extremity trauma, including the prevention of osteomyelitis, chronic pain and disability.
An important feature of the consortium will be its ability to expand the number of clinical sites participating in any one study. More than 30 trauma centers across the country have pledged support for the consortium and are eager to participate in one or more of the studies.
"We are thrilled to be partnering with the consortium and the incredible team of investigators they have assembled," says Joseph Wenke, Ph.D., of the USAISR. "Together we will develop the infrastructure critically needed to address some of the most pressing issues in orthopaedic trauma care. Without a large, multi-center effort such as this, many of these issues would never be solved."
The other core clinical centers currently participating in the consortium are: Boston University Medical Center; The Florida Orthopaedic Institute; Carolinas Medical Center; Denver Health and Hospital Authority; OrthoIndy and the Indiana Orthopaedic Hospital; Orthopaedic Associates of Michigan; The Orthopaedic Trauma Institute at the University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital; The University of Mississippi Medical Center; The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; The University of Washington Harborview Medical Center and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.