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University of Pittsburgh Named Regional Stroke Center by NIH

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 13, 2013 – A new network of 25 regional stroke centers working with nearby satellite facilities will span the country, have teams of researchers representing every medical specialty needed for stroke care, and address the three prongs of stroke research: prevention, treatment and recovery. The centers were announced yesterday by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and include the University of Pittsburgh.
 
The 25 centers are strategically placed in every region of the country. To qualify, Pitt demonstrated experience in stroke research and recruitment, including the ability to enroll underrepresented populations, and to offer access to the full cadre of specialties that are involved in stroke care. These include: emergency medicine, neurosurgery, interventional neuroradiology, vascular neurology, neurointensive care, neuroimaging, stroke rehabilitation and pediatric neurology.
 
“This network represents a new and innovative approach to finding more effective methods to prevent and treat strokes,” said Lawrence Wechsler, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “We are excited to be a part of the network and to bring these studies to the Pittsburgh area.”
 
The University of Pittsburgh, in coordination with the UPMC Stroke Institute, is the only network site in western Pennsylvania and is working with many of the region’s community hospitals on stroke research and care.
 
“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,” said Petra Kaufmann, M.D., the associate director for clinical research at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
 
NINDS, which will fund and manage the NIH Stroke Trials Network, or NIH StrokeNet, has a strong history of successful stroke clinical trials over the past 40 years, leading to some astonishing advances in treatment and prevention, including the first treatment for acute stroke, announced in 1995.
 
Each center will receive five-year funding, with $200,000 for research costs and $50,000 for training stroke clinical researchers per year over the first three years, and additional funds driven by the completion of milestones.
 
NIH StrokeNet investigators, working with the broader stroke community, will propose, develop and conduct stroke protocols to be administered within the network and train the future generation of clinical researchers in stroke.
 
Historically, the model for stroke clinical trials was to create large teams of personnel and infrastructure, which were then disassembled once the trial was completed. This model led to delays in patient recruitment and additional costs when new trials were initiated, with some stroke clinical trials lasting many years longer than anticipated and costing millions of dollars more than the original estimate.
The network concept evolved from an NINDS planning effort in which stroke experts were asked what is most needed to reduce death and disability due to stroke in the United States. They called for a nationwide stroke network that would allow for a more seamless transition between early safety and efficacy trials and Phase II and III clinical trials.
 
“NIH StrokeNet will allow the most promising therapies to quickly advance to the clinic, to improve prevention, acute treatment, or rehabilitation of the stroke patient,” said Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., NINDS deputy director. “We need to have a balance of approaches to decrease the burden of illness due to stroke.”
 
“Our goal for the NIH Stroke Centers Network is to initiate four to five NINDS-funded exploratory Phase I and II stroke clinical trials, and two to four Phase III trials over the next five years. This is a major challenge which we believe the stroke research community will embrace,” said Scott Janis, Ph.D., NINDS program director of the NIH StrokeNet. 
 
The study was funded by the following NINDS grants: (centers) 1U10NS086497-01; 1U10NS086489-01; 1U10NS086513-01; 1U10NS086729-01; 1U10NS086512-01; 1U10NS086607-01; 1U10NS086492-01; 1U10NS086467-01; 1U10NS086494-01; 1U10NS086608-01; 1U10NS086484-01; 1U10NS086728-01; 1U10NS086521-01; 1U10NS086606-01; 1U10NS086496-01; 1U10NS086526-01; 1U10NS086487-01; 1U10NS086535-01; 1U10NS086474-01; 1U10NS086528-01; 1U10NS086531-01; 1U10NS086533-01; 1U10NS086490-01; 1U10NS086525-01; (clinical coordinating center) 1U01 NS086872-01.

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