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Founded in 2008, the Shock, Trauma and Anesthesiology Research Organized Research Center (STAR-ORC) encompasses the Congressionally mandated, National Study Center for Trauma and Emergency Medical Systems; the clinical research activities of the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center; the clinical research programs of the Program in Trauma; and the pre-clinical and clinical research programs of the Department of Anesthesiology. The STAR Center's mission is to facilitate translational research in areas related to trauma, tissue injury, critical care and anesthesiology.

With the combined resources of the School of Medicine, the Shock Trauma Center, the National Study Center, and the UMB campus, the STAR-ORC is uniquely positioned to enhance patient care through pre-clinical and clinical research. The following summarizes our current research activities:

Areas of Research: STAR-ORC Faculty

  • Bizhan Aarabi, M.D., Professor of Neurosurgery, will be involved in two prospective randomized trials of decompressive craniectomy, DECRA and RESCUEicp, examining whether it can improve functional outcome in severely head injured patients with intractable intracranial hypertension, even with maximum medical management.
  • Patricia C. Dischinger, Ph.D., Professor of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, is an injury epidemiologist focusing on motor vehicle-related trauma; she is PI for the CODES (Crash Outcomes Data Evaluation System) and CIREN (Crash Injury Research Engineering Network) projects, both of which are funded by NHTSA. She also studies predictors of outcome among patients with mild TBI and is one of the PI’s for a T-32 NIH Training Program in Trauma and Injury Prevention.
  • Alan I. Faden, M.D. is the David S. Brown Professor in Trauma in the Department of Anesthesiology. Dr. Faden’s laboratory uses multi-disciplinary approaches- including molecular and cellular biology, animal modeling, behavior, imaging and drug discovery- to examine the pathobiology of experimental brain and spinal cord injury and their treatment. Specific research focuses include cell cycle pathways, microglial activation, cell death pathways, metabotropic glutamate receptors, and use of combination and multifunctional drug treatment strategies for neurotrauma.
  • Gary Fiskum, Ph.D., Professor of Anesthesiology and Vice Chair of Research, and his colleagues study the molecular mechanisms underlying ischemic and traumatic brain injury. Cell culture and animal models of adult and pediatric brain injury are utilized to understand how oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction contribute to injury. They have developed clinically relevant neuroprotective interventions using novel drugs such as acetyl-L-carnitine and sulforaphane, or by optimizing specific critical care procedures, particularly ventilatory oxygenation.
  • Peter Hu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, focuses on: 1) real-time patient vital signs data to predict life saving interventions, mobile telemedicine applications for rapid assessment of stroke patients, field collection of vital signs and images for trauma and mass casualty care, and intra-hospital communication systems using video-audio-vital sign data; 2) patient safety, including patient monitor alarms, video analysis of emergency airway management, remote mentoring of airway management, improving sterile practices by video-based on-line training courses, design of anesthesia workstations through analysis of clinician's eye-gazes, and instrument tray design.
  • David Loane, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, has demonstrated a pathophysiological role for beta amyloid in delayed injury after brain trauma, as well as a protective role for alpha and beta secretase inhibition. His current focus also includes the role of NADPH oxidase in chronic inflammation after experimental traumatic brain injury, and in neuronal cell death after microglial activation in vitro.
  • Brian Polster, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, examines sub-cellular mechanisms that govern neural cell death and survival in acute brain injury and neurodegenerative disorders, focusing on excitotoxic and apoptotic programmed cell death. Objectives include elucidating how mitochondrial protease activities contribute to bioenergetic dysfunction and reactive oxygen species production, roles and targets of calcium-dependent calpain proteases in neurotoxicity, and roles of multi-functional apoptosis-related proteins (Bax, AIF, and Htra2/Omi) in mitochondrial maintenance and injury.
  • Gordon Smith, MB, ChB, M.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, is exploring a variety of research areas, including injury epidemiology; occupational injury research; alcohol and drug research; and injury surveillance systems. He currently has several proposals under consideration to study effects of alcohol or alcohol hangovers in motor vehicle accidents and/or related to traumatic brain injury.
  • Deborah Stein, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor of Surgery, has current projects that include correlating inflammatory mediators in serum and CSF of severe TBI patients with outcome; sedation in trauma ICU patients; evaluating a new algorithm for management of blunt cerebrovascular injuries; collecting intraoperative samples of brain tissue to examine proteomic biomarkers; evaluating ventilator dependant patients with spinal cord injury for placement of a diaphragm pacing system; correlating hypoxia, normoxia and hyperoxia with outcome in patients with severe TBI; and examining factors that predict outcome in patients with severe TBI and long bone fractures.
  • Bogdan Stoica, M.D., Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, has studied various neuronal cell death mediators, including cell cycle proteins, ceramide, endocannabinoids, BH3 domain pro-apoptotic factors and PARP. He also has examined the protective effects of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, as well as caspase inhibitors, in multiple in vitro and in vivo models.