sutures newsletter


Research Division sees marked increases in clinical trials, funding

We’ve seen marked increases in the number of active clinical trials, research funding from nonfederal sources and a larger distribution of federal awards across our disciplines. Through targeted recruitments of accomplished investigators and strategic investments in our existing research portfolio, we’ve built on our funding successes each year.

Today, within the Department of Surgery, we have strong federally funded research programs in cancer biology, ophthalmology, regenerative medicine, general surgery, imaging and urological oncology. We also have a diverse portfolio of active clinical trials, including trials in cardiothoracic, orthopedics and bariatric surgery, as well as active trials in breast and pancreatic cancer.

One of the more unusual research projects is the Department of Defense OR360 project, which seeks to re-engineer teamwork and technology for 21st-century trauma care. A multidisciplinary team of trauma surgeons, Emergency Department staff, human factors specialists, and several experts on safety and human performance have been studying the processes of care delivery for trauma patients, to identify and address weaknesses in the current system. Worldwide, about 10 percent of patients are injured through a failure to deliver the appropriate care. By understanding the disruptions that occur in care and then examining their causes through detailed systems analysis, the team has been developing improved training, workspace layout, technology support and handoffs. Early results suggest a small but significant drop in coordination difficulties during the care of these often very sick patients.

Moving forward, we face a research-funding environment that will challenge the growth of our research programs. At the federal level, the National Institutes of Health research budget has essentially remained flat for the past five years, and all indications point to that trend continuing. When our applications are awarded, we’re seeing the awarded budgets cut immediately – sometimes by up to 20 percent – resulting in further financial strain to our research projects.

In response, we’re searching out alternate funding sources to support our research programs, be they disease-specific foundations, other federal agencies beyond the NIH, or partnerships with industry. We’ve also increased the number of research applications we’ve submitted to funding agencies, casting a larger net in hopes of more awards. We’ll continue to respond to the shifting research funding environment in hopes of continued success for the department.

Submitted by the Research Division in the Department of Surgery