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VUMC joins national stroke prevention research network

Oct. 17, 2013, 10:30 AM

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has joined a national network funded by the National Institutes of Health to streamline multi-site clinical trials focused on key interventions in stroke prevention, treatment and recovery.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Stroke Trials Network will include up to 25 academic medical centers and aims to increase efficiency and resource sharing within cerebrovascular clinical research.

“It’s widely recognized that research in stroke is very slow. This network will make it more efficient with a standing platform of investigators and institutions ready to implement new trials as they are developed. And with that increased efficiency, we will get better results,” said Michael Froehler, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery, who will direct VUMC’s participation in the network.

VUMC received a $1.9 million grant to support network infrastructure and will receive additional funds for the individual trials.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., and is particularly prevalent in the “stroke belt” states in the South.

As the Regional Coordinating Stroke Center for Tennessee, VUMC has forged partnerships with Erlanger Medical Center, Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and Huntsville Hospital to access an estimated 4,300 stroke admissions per year. VUMC can also recruit patients from the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network with 32 additional hospitals in the region.

“Being able to draw from the affiliates already in place and the regional network we built will speed patient recruitment and help us be a strong participant,” Froehler said.

“This is the future of clinical research in stroke and the way big stroke trials funded by the government will be done from here on out. We’re honored to be a part of it.”

Key participants at VUMC include co-primary investigators Howard Kirshner, M.D., director of the Vanderbilt Stroke Center, and J Mocco, M.D., M.S., associate professor of Neurological Surgery.

Other co-investigators include Lori Jordan, M.D., Ph.D., an expert in pediatric stroke, and Walter Frontera, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Bree Burks, MSN, R.N., will serve as clinical research director.

Froehler expects to be online with the network in the spring and says the next phase is creating research projects to feed into the network. VUMC is readying proposals in endovascular stroke treatment, pediatric stroke epidemiology, seizures in subarachnoid hemorrhage and assessing collaterals in acute large artery stroke.

“I think there will be a big focus on prevention, especially of a secondary stroke. We want to reduce the chance stroke patients go on to have another event in the future,” Froehler said.

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