Faculty Bulletin Board

UCLA-led consortium gets grant to improve emergency medical care

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A network of 80 Southern California hospitals and ambulance agencies, led by UCLA, has been awarded a grant of approximately $830,000 from the National Institutes of Health to improve emergency medical care.

Emergency conditions of the heart, brain, lungs and blood, along with trauma, are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. To cut those numbers, it is important that new treatments be developed for these diseases, said Dr. Sidney Starkman, professor of emergency medicine and neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Starkman is the principal investigator of the project called Southern California SIREN.

The idea behind the NIH program is to develop an infrastructure that reduces obstacles inherent in conducting clinical trials in emergency care, Starkman said.

“Administering clinical research in an emergency setting requires access to a demographically and geographically diverse pool of patients and close collaboration among paramedics, hospital emergency department personnel and a broad range of medical specialists,” said Starkman, co-director of the UCLA Comprehensive Stroke Center. “UCLA’s strong relationships, deep experience in multi-site clinical trials, and clinical and research expertise in many disciplines position us well to make a real difference in enhancing the emergency care of patients.”

Starkman and his colleagues aim to lead a number of trials involving 1,000 or more patients each in the next five years.

This collaboration is one of 11 regional networks that will perform large clinical trials of promising new treatments for cardiac arrest, body trauma and other medical emergencies.  During the next five years, the NIH will fund and administer trials with UCLA and other hubs across the country.

Among the institutions in the consortium are academic medical centers: Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital in Westwood; county-run Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance; hospitals operated by University of California campuses in Irvine and San Diego; Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Also part of the consortium are emergency medical service agencies in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, plus multiple specialty hospitals and treatment centers.

Starkman’s co-principal investigators leading the effort are: Dr. Roger Lewis, UCLA professor of emergency medicine and chair of the emergency department at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Marianne Gausche-Hill, UCLA professor of clinical medicine and pediatrics and medical director of Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency, and Dr. Jeffrey Saver, professor of neurology and director of the UCLA Comprehensive Stroke Center.

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