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University of Pittsburgh Brain Trauma Research Center Receives $6 Million Renewal Grant

PITTSBURGH, May 15, 2000 — The University of Pittsburgh Brain Trauma Research Center has been awarded a $6 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue groundbreaking research in the treatment of traumatic brain injuries.

The five-year grant allows investigators to research the causes of brain swelling following head injury, why some head injury patients experience a poor outcome and the role that drugs play in treating brain injury.

"This renewal grant permits us to continue our investigations of basic molecular mechanisms responsible for secondary brain injury, and to identify new medications that will improve outcomes. We are focusing on the causes of brain swelling soon after injury. Brain swelling is the most important cause of death and disability following traumatic brain injury," said Donald W. Marion, M.D., professor and interim chief of the neurosurgical service in the department of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and director and founder of the Brain Trauma Research Center.

The Center is one of only three National Institutes of Health-designated head injury centers in the United States. It is closely allied with the University's Center for Injury Research and Control (CIRCL), also directed by Dr. Marion, and the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research, directed by Patrick Kochanek, M.D.

The Center opened in 1990 to study laboratory and clinical models of traumatic brain injury. Since then, researchers have made important contributions to the understanding of how trauma to the head damages the brain, and the progression of that damage during the first few hours and days after injury. To date, the research conducted at the Center has resulted in more than 100 publications in leading scientific journals.

In a 1997 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Center investigators reported that moderate cooling of the brain was effective in improving outcomes following severe brain trauma.

In the United States, traumatic brain injury is the most common cause of death, disability and mental impairment in people between the ages of 1 and 45 years and affects an estimated two million people each year. Because trauma disproportionately affects younger individuals, it accounts for more years of potential life lost than cancer and cardiovascular disease combined.

Annually, 50,000 people suffer severe brain injuries and require long-term care at a cost of more than $20 billion, according to the NINDS. Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of such injuries.

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