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University of Maryland School of Medicine Scientists Set to Begin Critical Radiation Countermeasures Research

| David Kohn

Federally Funded Project Could Be Worth Up To $9.7 Million Over Three Years

University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) Department of Radiation Oncology Chair and Professor William F. Regine, MD, FACR, FACRO, and UM SOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, announced today that UM SOM researchers have been awarded a contract worth up to $9.7 million over three years, from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to study new ways to treat radiation-induced bleeding disorders. BARDA is part of the Office of the Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The principal investigators on the project are Isabel L. Jackson, PhD, assistant professor in the UM SOM Department of Radiation Oncology and director of the Medical Countermeasure Program in the department’s Division of Translational Radiation Sciences (DTRS), and Zeljko Vujaskovic, MD, PhD, Professor of Radiation Oncology and Director of DTRS.

“This research will give us valuable information about how to counteract one of the most lethal effects of radiation,” said Dr. Jackson. “By the end of this study, we will know much more about how to save lives in a radiological or nuclear incident.”

The two researchers will examine the effectiveness of several medications in preventing or reducing bleeding disorders that can occur after radiation exposure in a radiological or nuclear incident. Radiation often harms blood cells and circulatory system tissue, and as a result people exposed to radiation are at high risk of bleeding to death. The drugs being tested are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of bleeding in trauma settings.

DTRS, which was launched five years ago, collaborates with government, pharmaceutical, biotechnology agencies and companies on a range of medical and radiation oncology, radiation biology/physics, and biodefense projects.

Medical countermeasure studies can also improve treatment of patients undergoing radiation treatment for a variety of cancers. “This research allows us to move quickly from the lab to the clinic, so that we can improve care for patients undergoing radiation therapy for cancer,” said Dr. Regine, who also holds the Isadore & Fannie Schneider Foxman Endowed Professorship. About 60 percent of diagnosed cancer patients receive radiation therapy during treatment.

Over the past 40 years, the UM SOM’s Department of Radiation Oncology has been a leader in conducting research in radiation science, and has helped define the field. DTRS is building on that foundation.

“We are excited to continue this life-saving research with BARDA,” said Dean Reece, who is also Vice President of Medical Affairs, the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko Bowers Distinguished Professor at UM SOM. “This impressive effort underscores a position as a leader in the field of translational radiation science.”

About the Division of Translational Radiation Sciences

The Division of Translational Radiation Sciences (DTRS), a part of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was established to accelerate the discovery and clinical implementation of new therapeutic strategies to improve tumor response in clinical radiotherapy, minimize post-radiation therapy complications, and mitigate/treat the life-threatening health effects of a radioactive or nuclear agent brought on by a nuclear/terrorist incident. DTRS offers a multidisciplinary approach to address the knowledge gaps in radiation oncology, biology, and physics to facilitate discovery and innovation. This is accomplished through building on the experience and multidisciplinary expertise of our faculty members within the Division. The Division provides a comprehensive set of services to the U.S. government, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies in the areas of medical and radiation oncology, radiation biology/physics, and biodefense.

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Commemorating its 210th Anniversary, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically-based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. The School has over 2,500 students, residents, and fellows, and nearly $450 million in extramural funding, with more than half of its academic departments ranked in the top 20 among all public medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has nearly 7,000 total employees. The combined School and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has a total budget of $5 billion and an economic impact of nearly $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th-highest public medical school in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu/

 

Learn More

• Division of Translational Radiation Sciences

• Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority

Contact

University of Maryland School of Medicine
David Kohn
Director of Medicine and Science Communications
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Office of Public Affairs
dkohn@som.umaryland.edu
(410) 706-7590

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