Catalyzing innovation, improving outcomes in trauma and critical care

From left: Donald Trunkey, Martin Schreiber, and Richard Mullins

The Donald D. Trunkey Center for Civilian and Combat Casualty Care is named for the late emeritus chair of surgery

A year ago, the Division of Trauma, Critical Care and Acute Care Surgery in the Department of Surgery gathered 32 trauma investigators from multiple disciplines across OHSU and the VA Portland Health Care System to identify opportunities for collaboration. They ended up learning something even more important:

Despite conducting research in similar areas on linked campuses and being, in many cases, national and international leaders in their fields, few of the investigators were aware of each other’s work. The business case for the new Donald D. Trunkey Center for Civilian and Combat Casualty Care was made. And the potential benefits of the center’s support for research in trauma and critical care has only grown because of the central role critical care teams play as first-responders during pandemics. 

Pictured above, from left: Martin A. Schreiber M.D., chief of trauma surgery, OHSU School of Medicine, Richard Mullins, M.D., former trauma chief, and Donald D. Trunkey, M.D., the late chair emeritus of surgery. Photo provided by Dr. Schreiber.

OHSU is internationally recognized in trauma research, identified by the American College of Surgeons as one of the top five trauma research programs in the nation. The three leading OHSU faculty investigators in this field alone bring in more than $28 million in federal and industry funding. Now the center’s mission is to mine and convene the much broader local community of investigators to better leverage research expertise, partners and resources to advance trauma research and improve patient outcomes across the continuum of care.

Creating connections
The center, located in the School of Medicine, Department of Surgery, in collaboration with the Schools of Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy, will not require any new institutional dollars. It will leverage an existing trauma endowment and serve as a focal point for philanthropic, government, foundation and industry research funding.

“The Trunkey Center is a win for OHSU, for patients and for the larger understanding of trauma and critical care response,” said School of Medicine Dean Sharon Anderson. “The center will catalyze connections between our faculty members who are already working in the field and better utilize existing funding streams to do it. As OHSU seeks to build on our critical care preparedness even as we enter a period of significant financial challenge, this is exactly the kind of ingenuity and initiative we need to keep us moving forward in service of Oregonians and beyond.”

OHSU President Danny Jacobs and Dr. Anderson approved the new center April 30; Jane Trunkey, Dr. Trunkey’s wife, added her approval on May 1, the one-year anniversary of the death of Dr. Trunkey, a renowned pioneer in trauma care and the eighth chair of surgery.

The center will be directed by Martin Schreiber, M.D., professor of surgery, Division of Trauma, Critical Care and Acute Care Surgery, and a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. Several dozen collaborators have signed on and Dr. Schreiber is looking for more.

The goals of the Donald D. Trunkey Center for Civilian and Combat Casualty Care  – shorthanded D2T5C for the two D’s and 5 C’s – include bringing together leading researchers, clinicians, and specialists from across OHSU, the VA, and the region to:

  • Accelerate innovative trauma research across the translational spectrum – from basic to clinical to population health.
  • Provide cutting-edge clinical training opportunities.
  • Foster multidisciplinary collaborations aimed at elevating the care, outcomes, and quality of life of critically ill or injured patients.

Center leaders will regularly engage trauma researchers through annual retreats, monthly seminars, and weekly meetings and by providing competitive pilot grants for collaborative projects. The center will also bolster OHSU’s existing trauma research funding and outputs by providing access to shared resources such as grant identification and submission support, clinical trial infrastructure, and a trauma research portal, expert directory, and website.

Building on expertise
Through industry partnerships aimed at accelerating the translation of research from the bench to the bedside, leaders envision a significant contribution to improved patient care.

“OHSU is the only academic Level 1 trauma center in the state and serves Oregon, northern California and southern Washington, seeing more than 3,000 trauma patients each year,” said Kenneth Azarow, M.D., professor and chair of surgery and a retired U.S. Army colonel.  “Our trauma and critical care expertise contributed to our ability to ramp up for the care of COVID-19 patients. This center will advance our knowledge and technology to better serve the wide range of trauma and critical care patients we see as well as build on our lessons learned amid the pandemic.”

The center embodies the deep connection between trauma care at OHSU and service in the U.S. military. As a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve during the Gulf War’s Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Dr. Trunkey pointed out in a federal report that “in general, reserve and active duty Army surgeons lacked experience with trauma.” His report led to the establishment of the Joint Trauma Training Center at Ben Taub General Hospital at Texas Medical Center in Houston. Then-Major Martin Schreiber served on the first pilot team at Ben Taub and commanded the second team.

OHSU’s ongoing collaborations with the military include a partnership with the U.S. Army launched in June 2019 called the Army Military Civilian Trauma Training Team (AMCT3).  OHSU was selected as one of the first two sites for this collaboration out of 28 potential sites nationwide.  Since this time, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act was passed into law to support these collaborations.

“The center will continue the tradition of pursuing excellence in trauma care, research and education started by Dr. Trunkey by capitalizing on and synergizing all current trauma related resources available in the northwest,” said Dr. Schreiber. “It is an immense honor for me to lead this center and to carry on his legacy at such a crucial time. I am eager to see all that we can accomplish on behalf of our patients, and I am grateful for the opportunity.”

One response to “Catalyzing innovation, improving outcomes in trauma and critical care

Comments are closed.