UC selected as national center for new stroke trials network

CINCINNATI — New research funding is helping the University of Cincinnati continue its ongoing effort to transform itself into one of the top stroke research institutions in the country.

The university was selected as the national coordinating center for a new National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) clinical trials network.

The announcement was made Thursday by officials at NINDS, one of the more than two dozen research institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

NINDS also announced UC will be one of 25 regional stroke centers for what will be known as the NIH Stroke Trials Network, or NIH StrokeNet.

Dr. Joseph Broderick, Albert Barnes Voorheis Chair of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine at UC, will be the principal investigator for the national center, according to a press release from UC Health.

The designation comes with a five-year grant from NINDS. The grant comes with $7.2 million over the first three years; milestones will determine the funding for the remaining two years.

Dr. Pooja Khatri and Dr. Dawn Kleindorfer, professors in the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, will be the co-principal investigators for the regional center at UC.

It is also a five-year grant, with $1.2 million allocated over the first three years and funding for the remaining two years determined by milestones.

“This is an exciting time for stroke research, and we’re eager to get started,” says Broderick, who has served as principal investigator on many federally funded clinical investigations related to stroke during his 26 years on the UC faculty.

“The prior traditional approach was cumbersome and inefficient, since one had to start each new clinical trial from scratch. Now, with a national network and coordinated leadership, clinical stroke researchers can move more swiftly from one trial to the next without repeatedly having to re-invent the wheel.

“This trial network will focus on clinical trials of acute stroke treatment, stroke prevention and stroke recovery so that we can reduce the tremendous burden of stroke in our country and around the world.”

In addition, the press release noted there will be a central Institutional Review Board (IRB) based at UC so that one IRB approval process will count for all the IRBs in the network.

“The new system is intended to streamline stroke research by centralizing approval and review, lessening time and costs of clinical trials and assembling a comprehensive data sharing system,” says Dr. Petra Kaufman, associate director for clinical research at NINDS.

Broderick was quoted in the release as saying a team of people will be based at UC for the coordinating center but that there will be key leaders in other centers in the U.S. who will also be part of the coordinating center.

Khatri, director of acute stroke for the UC Stroke Team, will lead acute trial efforts nationally within the national coordinating center as one of three co-principal investigators in addition to her role with the regional center, according to the press release.

“We look forward to advancing stroke care within this network, which will facilitate nearly all federally funded stroke trials in the U.S., and collaborating with networks worldwide,” she said.

Kleindorfer, co-director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at the UC Neuroscience Institute, heads the educational core for the national coordinating center in addition to her role as co-PI for the regional center at UC.

“We are tremendously excited to lead both the regional and national efforts to improve stroke care and education,” she noted.

A stroke occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). According to the American Heart Association / American Stroke Association, stroke kills more than 137,000 people a year in the United States, about one of every 18 deaths. It’s the No. 4 cause of death in the U.S.

UC and UC Health have long been leaders in stroke care and research. In July, UC Health’s University of Cincinnati Medical Center was certified by the Joint Commission as an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center, a new level of certification reserved for institutions with specific abilities to receive and treat the most complex stroke cases.

UC is already part of two NINDS national networks: the NETT (Neurological Emergency Treatment Trials) and NeuroNEXT.

NETT has 22 centers and is focused on emergency treatment of neurologic emergencies such as stroke, traumatic brain injuries, seizures and meningitis. Opeolu Adeoye, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine and neurosurgery, is the PI for the NETT center at UC.

NeuroNEXT comprises 25 centers and focuses on clinical trials

of neurologic disorders. Khatri and Tracy Glauser, MD, a professor of pediatrics at UC, are the PIs for the NeuroNEXT center at UC and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

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