UW-Madison: To lead stroke research in upper Midwest

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UW to lead stroke research in upper Midwest

New center will coordinate research among region’s hospitals and Indian nations

Madison, Wis. — People who live in Wisconsin’s urban neighborhoods and Indian reservations should have better access to the latest in stroke prevention and treatment, thanks to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s new role as a Regional Coordinating Stroke Center.

The National Institutes of Health’s announcement, made just before the federal government shut down on Oct. 1, could mean up to $1.88 million coming to UW over the next five years. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has announced it plans to set up about 25 regional coordinating centers to develop, promote and conduct high quality research on stroke.

More importantly, it means that people in Wisconsin and northern Illinois will have access to the latest in clinical trials, treatment and prevention.

“We’re very proud of this honor and recognition of our leadership in stroke research and treatment,” says lead investigator Dr. Robert Dempsey, chairman of neurosurgery. “Most importantly, it means that stroke patients who may live far from academic medical centers will benefit from the latest and best practices in diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.”

Dempsey’s group will coordinate research at about 26 health organizations in Wisconsin and Illinois, ranging from hospitals to tribal medical centers to four major medical systems with a total of 12.7 million outpatient visits per year.

Dr. Azam Ahmed, assistant professor of neurosurgery, is the sub-PI for the project, which involves faculty from disciplines that include vascular neurology, interventional neuroradiology, neurointensive care, stroke rehabilitation, emergency medicine, pediatric neurology and neuroimaging.

Dempsey says the NIH reviewers were impressed with other resources available at UW SMPH, including its Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, its office of clinical trials and longstanding programs to do outreach and improve health care among Wisconsin’s underserved communities.

Each year, almost 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke; stroke is the third leading cause of death in the country and causes more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease. A stroke, also known as a “brain attack,’’ occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted, either due to a blood clot or a bleed.

“This program represents a key collaboration between the NIH and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health to change the way we prevent, treat and repair damage from one of the greatest health threats to our individual and collective well being,” Dempsey says.