Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Funds to Advance Ideas

The University of Texas, School of Health Information Sciences at Houston, received grant funding from AHRQ to train future scientists. The goal is to train scientists on how to design, implement, select, and evaluate health IT. Scientists today need to be able to develop and apply human-centered methods and techniques to HIT.

To accomplish these goals, scientists must be given training in two different training areas. First a solid foundation in informatics, research design and evaluation, human-centered design, and quality improvement must be given. Secondly, trainees need firsthand experience through research programs that give them the opportunity to put their didactic training to practice by working on HIT.

The overall program will be managed by the W.M Keck Center and trainees may be enrolled at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

In other developments at the university, the Department of Defense awarded the UTHSC at Houston a $9.2 million grant to conduct a clinical trial that could lead to an improved survival rate for trauma patients who require massive blood transfusions.

To do this, the university’s Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences has contracted with the Army Institute of Surgical Research to serve as the Data Coordination Center for the “Prospective, Observational, Multi-Center Massive Transfusion Trial”. Clinical trial sites for the two year study will include several trauma centers.

From the time a trauma patient is admitted to the hospital, healthcare providers are processing data on the patient’s condition such as vital signs, medications, and other healthcare information. All of this information needs to be collected, coordinated, and managed. The idea is to design a secure, web-based informatics system to make it possible to collect vital data by the patient’s bedside in order to make point-of-care decisions. The system will also allow for subsequent data management and analysis for clinical and translational research.

“The first few hours after the trauma injury are critical and what happens minute-to-minute determines whether these patients live or die” according to Colonel John Holcomb, M.D., Co-Investigator, Director for the Center for Translational Injury Research.

In the commercial sector, the Texas Austin based company NanoMedical Systems (NMS), Inc., a startup co-founded by Mauro Ferrari Ph.D., from UTHSC at Houston, received a $3.5 million Commercialization award through the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. The era of personalized medicine will require products for individuals that depend on many sophisticated technologies. The funding awarded to NMS will be used to accelerate completion and pre-clinical testing of the company’s Personalized Molecular Drug-Delivery System, a small drug delivery device that is implanted under the skin.

The device delivers medication into the bloodstream using 100,000 nano channels each the size of a drug molecule. This enables controlled doses of medication to be released in the bloodstream over weeks or months. The company is developing the device so that anti-cancer drugs will be easier to use in long term therapy. As research goes on, the device will be made smaller and more useable and make a difference in cancer care with other future applications possible in space and military medicine.