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December 2008 Issue

UC's surgery department is working to enhance its military medicine research efforts.
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Surgery Enhances Military Medicine

By Amanda Harper
Published December 2008

A new research collaboration based out of the UC surgery department will more closely align the UC College of Medicine with military organizations on research projects.

Under the stewardship of Alex Lentsch, PhD, and Jay Johannigman, MD, the department has formed the Institute for Military Medicine, a research and training collaboration focused on military medicine with the intention of further leveraging existing expertise and resources at UC.

The Institute for Military Medicine falls under the auspices of the Center for Surgical Innovation and is a partnership between surgery’s division of trauma/critical care and division of research as well as several other UC departments.

The institute’s goal is to develop new technology that can be applied in the military environment to advance patient care; to discover the scientific basis of severe injury, utilizing the knowledge to treat combat casualties; and to provide state-of-the-art training for those caring for wounded soldiers.

The effort is intended to encapsulate all military-related research activities under one umbrella and currently includes more than $9 million in funded grants.

This initiative reflects a shift in strategic direction under the leadership of Michael Edwards, MD, chair of surgery, to refocus and prioritize surgery research efforts.

Current funding comes from the Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force, Office of Naval Research, National Space Biomedical Research Initiative and National Institutes of Health.

Projects include investigating:

• A closed-loop oxygen regulator that would automatically regulate oxygen delivery to critically wounded patients, led jointly by Johannigman and Richard Branson, associate professor of surgery.

• Use of oxygen concentrators for use at high altitudes and/or space, led by Branson.

• Effects of altitude on aeromedical evacuation of severely injured soldiers, led jointly by Lentsch, professor and vice chair for research, and Col. Warren Dorlac, MD.

• Repair of burn injury with autologous engineered skin substitutes, led by Steven Boyce, PhD, professor of surgery and researcher at Shriners Hospitals for Children–Cincinnati. In addition to basic research projects, the institute includes the Cincinnati Center for Sustainment and Readiness Skills (C-STARS).

The Cincinnati C-STARS program specializes in teaching U.S. Air Force medical personnel the technical and trauma skills necessary for delivering care to critically wounded soldiers in a moving aircraft. It also includes the Nurse Transition Program, a nine-week comprehensive training opportunity for novice Air Force nurses.

“This initiative all started with a $2 million donation from philanthropist Carl Lindner in 2003 and establishment of the Center for Surgical Innovation. That laid the foundation for us to build strong relationships with the military,” explains Edwards, who assumed leadership of the surgery department in January 2008.

“We have great synergy here in Cincinnati to make major progress in military medicine nationally,” says Edwards.

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