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A bold directive

Mustapha Ezzeddine, M.D.,
says the project has the
potential to change the
way stroke is treated—far beyond the emergency
room’s walls. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

U named one of 25 regional stroke centers charged with revolutionizing stroke care nationwide

The University of Minnesota has been named one of 25 institutions that will lead a nationwide network of regional stroke centers as part of a new effort driven by the National Institutes of Health to reduce the impact of stroke in the United States.

About 795,000 new strokes are reported each year, making stroke the fourth leading cause of death in the country.

“Stroke is a major cause of disability and death around the world and in Minnesota, and despite progress in medical therapies available today, we are still a long way from being able to achieve the desired cures and recovery,” says Mustapha Ezzeddine, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurology and principal investigator (PI) of the University’s part of the project. Department of Emergency Medicine professor Michelle Biros, M.D., M.S., is co-PI.

Through this new national stroke network, 25 primary sites will work with nearby satellite facilities, capitalize on teams of researchers representing every medical specialty needed for stroke care, and address the three prongs of stroke research: prevention, treatment, and recovery. The goal is to streamline research and share data so that advances in stroke care get to patients as fast as possible.

“This really includes the top tier of all stroke investigators in this country,” Ezzeddine says.

The University of Minnesota was selected to participate because of its extensive experience with clinical trials and the comprehensive care it provides, says Ezzeddine. That care involves specialists from emergency medicine, neurosurgery, interventional neuroradiology, vascular neurology, neurointensive care, neuroimaging, stroke rehabilitation, and pediatric neurology.

Each of the 25 centers involved in the network will receive funding for five years, with $200,000 for research and $50,000 for training stroke clinical researchers per year for the first three years. Additional funding will be driven by the completion of milestones.

Ezzeddine says the new network has the potential to change the way stroke is treated—far beyond the emergency room.

“It’s not just the acute treatment,” he says. “What’s different about this network is that it’s also focusing on secondary prevention—so how do you prevent another stroke from happening?—and focusing on recovery and rehabilitation.”

And, in the process of uncovering new treatments for stroke, Ezzeddine hopes that the network will lead to improved therapies for other conditions, such as traumatic brain injuries and spine injuries, as well.

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