Monday, June 29, 2009

Tech-Carilion: 'Creating New Approaches to Medical Research'


Maria Hirsch, is intubating the human patient simulator in the Carilion Clinic Center for Experiential Learning (above). Shashank Priya and Sonya L. Ranson received a grant to advance their work on human-like physical appearance and response in patient simulator mannequins. This is an example of Priya's work (right).

Special to the FRONT

Tom Campbell, assistant director for research and operations for the research institute announced that teams of Virginia Tech and Carilion researchers submitted 22 proposals for consideration. "The partnership is clearly creating new approaches to medical research," Campbell says. "Building on the momentum from the first round of funded seed projects, this second round will further the strong collaboration between Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic to set the stage for VTC."

"These most recent seed grant awards represent the growing opportunities in research and education that exist between Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic," says Dr. Daniel Harrington, vice president for academic affairs for Carilion Clinic and associate dean for clinic and regional integration for the school of medicine.

Building a realistic patient simulator are Shashank Priya (materials science and engineering; mechanical engineering) and Sonya L. Ranson (VTC school of medicine; Center for Experiential Learnin). They received a grant for "Prototyping a Human-like Patient."

"The program is part of a larger VTC project to develop a full-scale patient simulation facility and humanoid hospital, a training facility for healthcare providers using human patient simulators," says Ranson. The facility has three human patient simulators and various part-task trainers that allow students to practice basic clinical skills. The full-body mannequins are run from an associated control room.

A second grant that supports technology development also addresses controlling disease. David Popham, professor of biological sciences; Dr. Charles Schleupner, professor of internal medicine and director of the Carilion Clinic infectious disease fellowship program; and Stephen Melville, biological sciences associate professor, received funding to develop "Improved Decontamination of Clostridium difficile spores."

C. difficile can cause disease when antibiotics kill other bacteria of the gut that keep C. difficile in check. Spores produced by C. difficile tolerate extreme conditions that most bacteria cannot tolerate. The research will determine optimum conditions for stimulating spore germination, which renders the bacteria sensitive to many antimicrobial treatments.

The reviewers praised the projects' "good translational potential."

They were also hopeful of the translational potential of the project, "Falling Risks in the Elderly: A Functional Cerebral Systems Approach to Vestibular Function." The neuroscience research, which addresses how the body receives and processes information in order to maintain equilibrium or balance, is being conducted by David W. Harrison, (psychology); Dr. David B. Trinkle, assistant dean for medical education and Joseph E. Carmona, a doctoral student in psychology at Tech.

Harrison is a licensed clinical neuropsychologist and Trinkle is training director of the geriatric psychiatry fellowship program at the Carilion-University of Virginia Roanoke Valley Program and medical director of the Carilion Center for Healthy Aging.

Three of the selected projects specifically address infectious disease: The first is: "Novel Identification and Characterization of the Quasi-species Variation during H1N1 'Swine Flu' Evolution in Humans," by Chris, associate professor of virology with the College of Veterinary Medicine's Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases; Kevin Myles, assistant professor of entomology at Virginia Tech and member of the Vector-borne Disease Research Group; and VTC associate professors of internal medicine Dr. Stephanie Nagy-Agren, chief of the infectious disease section of the VA Medical Center in Salem; and Dr. Jean A. Smith, Carilion Clinic infectious disease section.

The second infectious disease research project is: "Use of Antisense Therapeutics to Kill Intracellular Bacterial Pathogens," by Stephen M. Boyle and Nammalwar Sriranganathan, professors of microbiology in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech; and Dr. Tom Kerkering, professor of medicine with VTC, and section chief of infectious disease and medical director of infection control with Carilion Clinic.

1 comment:

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