Department of Defense to fund Pitt’s trauma research

By Alexa Bakalarski / Assistant News Editor

Pitt received up to $90 million in federal funding Wednesday to improve trauma care for military members and civilians.

The U.S. Department of Defense awarded Pitt’s Schools of Health Sciences the up-to-$90 million contract to collect data and, eventually, initiate projects with the Department, said Jason Sperry, a professor of surgery and critical care medicine at Pitt’s School of Medicine as well as a trauma surgeon at UPMC.

“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,” Sperry said in a UPMC release. “After approximately two years of accruing large amounts of data, we’ll be able to launch subsequent projects at the DOD’s request.”

The contract is launching with a $10.8 million project to create the Linking Investigations in Trauma and Emergency Services Network –– a national network of trauma centers and systems that will conduct research for improving military trauma care.

Sperry, the principal investigator on the research, said that the LITES Network has the potential to inspire research leading to clinical advancements.

In its first study, the LITES Network plans to link information spanning from a patient’s pre-hospital care to his or her recovery after being discharged. The network will collect data for thousands of patients nationwide on moderate and severe injuries.

Eventually, the goal is to break down the treatment and management of injuries by region of the country.

According to the UPMC release, LITES Network projects will rely on a University review board to give the network more flexibility and make it more efficient.

Trauma centers at the University of Texas at Houston, Vanderbilt University, University of Louisville, Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Arizona will also be a part of the initial study. Other trauma centers across the United States –– such as the University of Pennsylvania, University of Utah and University of Texas Southwestern –– will participate in subsequent studies.

The Coalition for National Trauma Research –– a group of six trauma-related organizations ––  will be a key partner for the LITES Network’s initial study and offer insight on strategic planning and advocacy.  

Pitt’s Multidisciplinary Acute Care Research Organization at Pitt will be the clinical coordinating center, and the Pitt Graduate School of Public Health’s Epidemiology Data Center will serve as the data coordinating center for the project.

Dr. Frank Guyette, an associate professor of emergency medicine in Pitt’s School of Medicine, will be the co-principal investigator for the contract along with Sperry and several other professors from Pitt, Colorado and Oregon.

“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,” Guyette said in the UPMC release.  “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.”


Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated Pitt’s School of the Health and Rehabilitation Sciences received the award. It is Pitt’s Schools of the Health Sciences. An earlier version also stated the award was $90 million. It is up to $90 million. The story has been updated to reflect these changes.

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