SBU Part of a $85 Million Government Funded Consortium Pursuing Innovative Healing for War Wounded
Dr. Richard Clark Directs Burn and Nonscar Healing Program of AFIRM
STONY BROOK, N.Y., April 17, 2008 – Stony Brook University is part of an academic consortium of 15 institutions that will be a
key component to the newly formed Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM), an interdisciplinary network working to develop advanced treatment options for severely wounded serviceman and women. The group, led by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and the Cleveland Clinic, is one of two academic groups nationwide that are part of AFIRM. The consortium will receive $42.5 million over five years. Stony Brook University is the only institution from New York State participating in AFIRM.
The U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC), in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research, the National Institutes of Health, the Air Force Office of the Surgeon General and the Department of Veterans Affairs will fund both academic consortia. The second consortium will be managed by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh with another $42.5 million in funding.
Wounded soldiers face the challenge of overcoming severe limb, head, face and burn injuries that can take years to treat and usually result in significant lifelong impairment. The use of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan has caused a marked increase in severe blast trauma, now responsible for approximately 75 percent of all injuries, according to the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma.
AFIRM will develop new products and therapies for the repair of battlefield injuries through the use of regenerative medicine. This innovative approach employs biological therapy, including stem cells and growth factors; tissue and biomaterials engineering; and transplants to enable the body to repair, replace, restore and regenerate damaged tissues and organs.
“Burns and scarring from battlefield injuries cause great morbidity and mortality in soldiers, and our initiative will hopefully decrease the devastating affects of such injuries,” says Richard A. Clark, M.D., Director of AFIRM’s Burn and Nonscar Healing Program, and Director of Tissue Engineering, and Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Dermatology and Medicine at Stony Brook University Medical Center.
One of the Burn and Nonscar Healing Program projects, led by Dr. Clark, involves the development of a new therapy to prevent burn injury progression and infection, and promote nonscar healing. The researchers will investigate an intravenous delivery of certain molecules known to have protective and regenerative properties for skin. The therapy would potentially be used right on the battlefield, when intravenous lines are placed in wounded solders, as well as during continued treatment.
The project involves the varied expertise of numerous researchers from several of the consortium institutions. Adam J. Singer, M.D., Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Emergency Medicine at SBUMC, developed one of the molecules to be tested.
“I believe that we can develop a very effective therapy within a few years, and if we can it would be breakthrough treatment for severe burns,” says Dr. Clark. “Such a therapy would have a tremendous impact on the short and long-term recovery of soldiers with burn-related injuries, as well as be applied for use in the civilian population.”
In addition to the two academic consortia, there will be a third AFIRM component. The U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio, Texas, will work with the two academic consortia to provide guidance on military medical needs and hosting trials of new therapies. Also, an executive committee for the consortium will direct the research programs of the geographically dispersed network of leading academic research scientists and clinicians, industrial scientists and business managers, and military medical experts.
The core academic partners for the consortium are: the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials at Rutgers University, the National Center for Regenerative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, Carnegie Mellon University, Stony Brook University, Dartmouth College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic, Northwestern University, University of Cincinnati, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University.
Stony Brook University Medical Center is the only academic medical center on Long Island. It comprises Stony Brook University School of Medicine and Stony Brook University Hospital. The School of Medicine includes 25 academic departments centered on education, training, and advancing scientific research.