Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

Nov. 3, 2011 Volume 33, No. 11

MU School of Medicine awarded $5.3 million grant for battlefield medics


ON THE TRAINING GROUND Dr. Frank L. Mitchell Jr. and Dr. Stephen Barnes, associate professor and chief of the Division of Acute Surgery, were on hand this week for the announcement of a $5.3 million federal grant to study battlefield trauma treatment. Mitchell is a pioneer in trauma treatment at MU. Robert Bell (right), a clinical instructor, demonstrated a simulation dummy used to train physicians. Photo by Rob Hill


Grant to lead study of combat casualty care

The University of Missouri announced Nov. 1 it has been awarded a hefty federal grant to evaluate and refine medics and first responders on the battlefield in combat casualty care.

The MU School of Medicine has received a two-year $5.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to continue studying ways to improve military medical training. Using U.S. Department of Defense funding, MU established the Combat Casualty Training Consortium (CCTC) this year, which is one of two groups nationwide recently formed to further research in combat medic training and train battlefield first responders.

The federal grant awarded this week will allow the consortium to examine the effectiveness of existing training and make recommendations for how combat trauma care should be performed in the future.

“As a former U.S. Air Force surgeon, I can tell you it is very difficult to convey the seriousness of the situations that our nation’s sons and daughters face when they are serving in harm’s way,” said Stephen Barnes, principal investigator of the CCTC and chief of the division of acute care surgery at the MU School of Medicine. “Combat medics are the first responders to help our wounded warriors, so it is critical that these health care providers receive the absolute best training.”

With the aid of the grant, the consortium will perform research in the three following areas: hemorrhage control, airway management and emergency medical skills. Barnes and his colleagues at MU will lead a team of more than 30 civilian and military experts on the research project.

Robert Duncan, MU vice chancellor for research, noted that MU is partnering on the project with the University of Alabama-Birmingham, University of South Florida, University of Central Florida and Information Visualization And Innovation Research, a program and systems management firm in Florida. Representatives from each entity were present at the grant announcement Tuesday.

Hal Williamson, MU vice chancellor for health sciences, said there are several reasons the university is able to secure large federal grants, such as the one for the combat casualty care study. He said one factor is the existence of a comprehensive, academic health center on an Association of American Universities  flagship campus, such as MU.

“MU also is fortunate to have focused resources in terms of the talent of its faculty and the reputation of its programs,” Williamson added. “With investment from MU and others, and some great leadership, we’ve been able to develop an outstanding clinical Simulation Center, a wonderful Trauma Center — which is a wonderful resource for our whole state and beyond — and an outstanding surgery department. All of these programs were leveraged to receive the award we are celebrating (this week).” 

Using grant funds, the MU team with its partner institutions will use computerized mannequins to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of existing trauma training methods. The group will then develop assessment tools and make recommendations to further training, retention and competence of medics in pre-hospital combat care settings. Using a variety of medical simulation modalities at three university locations, including MU’s Shelden Clinical Simulation Center, participants will simulate medical scenarios while receiving feedback in real time.

Bob Churchill, dean of the MU medical school, said in addition to the many current achievements of the university making the grant possible, many past actions “teed up” the possibility of receiving the grant. One of them is the long line of quality surgeons at the Trauma Center. 

“… I can say this with a straight face, that the trauma surgeons that I’ve worked with here the whole time I’ve been here are as good as anybody on the planet,” Churchill said. “That’s one of the reasons we were successful. We have a really nationally recognized Trauma Center. And we’ve had one for a long time.”

Churchill also took a moment to honor Dr. Frank L. Mitchell Jr., a former colleague who was present at the grant announcement, for whom the Trauma Center is named.

The consortium’s contributing partners include the following: the National Brain Injury Rescue and Rehabilitation Project; Harbor-UCLA Medical Center; Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skill in St. Louis, Baltimore and Cincinnati; the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine; U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School; Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences National Capital Area Medical Simulation Center; Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center; and the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command.