UC to Join International Traumatic Brain Injury Research Collaboration

Opeolu Adeoye, MD, at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Photo by UC Academic Health Center Communications Services.

CINCINNATI—University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers will begin enrolling patients in the spring of 2014 in an international, multi-site research project to better understand traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The five-year project, funded by an $18.8 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) award, will support research in concussion and traumatic brain injury at more than 55 sites worldwide.  It is one of the largest international research collaborations ever coordinated by funding agencies.

The International Traumatic Brain Injury (InTBIR) Initiative is a collaboration among the NIH, the U.S. Department of Defense, the European Commission and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In the U.S., researchers at more than 20 institutions will be led by the University of California San Francisco.

The NIH grant funds a continuation and expansion of the study, “Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury,” or TRACK-TBI, which collects data needed to improve diagnosis and treatment of brain injury.

The TRACK-TBI effort is spearheaded locally by Opeolu Adeoye, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine and neurosurgery at UC and a neurointensivist at the UC Medical Center, a Level 1 trauma center.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2 percent of the U.S. population now lives with TBI-caused disabilities, at an annual cost of about $77 billion.

“There are many different ways in which the brain can be injured. Across the world, these patients are all managed very differently and this makes it very difficult to know which treatments benefit which patients,” says Adeoye, a member of the Neurotrauma Center at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute.

U.S. TRACK-TBI sites will enroll 3,000 patients with mild to severe brain injuries—linking clinical, imaging, genomic and outcome data. The data will be made available to researchers to evaluate diagnostic tests and biomarkers of TBI, and to evaluate which treatments improve patient outcomes across all phases of recovery and severity.

Adeoye says that the study is large enough to allow for meaningful comparisons of treatments and outcomes: “Further,” he says, “making the data available to all will allow us to harness the knowledge and ingenuity of investigators from around the world and improve the chances of discovering new treatments to improve TBI outcomes.”

In addition to Adeoye, UC collaborators include: Norberto Andaluz, MD, associate professor of neurosurgery and a neurosurgeon with the Mayfield Clinic; Jed Hartings, PhD, research associate professor of neurosurgery; Michael Goodman, MD, clinical instructor of trauma and critical care; Christopher Lindsell, PhD, senior associate dean for clinical research; Jason McMullan, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine;  Arthur Pancioli, MD, Richard C. Levy Professor and chair of emergency medicine; and Jonathan Ratcliff, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine.

Andaluz says the study will attempt to tackle a number of gaps in current knowledge about the least severe forms of traumatic brain injury.

“These cases, infamously mislabeled as ‘mild’ or ‘minor’ head injuries, include a large spectrum of symptoms and long-lasting complications that are unsatisfactorily understood and characterized,” he says. “TRACK-TBI will attempt to better stratify, identify, and treat those different shades of traumatic brain injury.”

The project also is supported by private contributions and funding from the nonprofit One Mind for Research.

The University of Cincinnati and its affiliates, including Mayfield Clinic, have been named one of eight U.S. academic partners of One Mind for Research, which is mounting a global quest to cure brain disease and eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and brain injury.

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