University of Cincinnati to lead NIH StrokeNet for next five years

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The University of Cincinnati and UC Health have been renewed as National Coordinating Centers for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) StrokeNET, the primary infrastructure for NIH-funded multicenter trials of stroke and pipelines for new potential treatments for adults and children. With stroke and those at risk of stroke.

Created in 2013, NIH StrokeNet conducts clinical trials and research studies for the treatment, prevention, and recovery and rehabilitation of acute stroke after a stroke. The national network consists of 27 regional coordinating centers or hubs with more than 200 hospitals enrolling in its trials.

The University of Cincinnati has served as the national coordinating center for the NIH StrokeNET since its inception in September 2013, renewing every five years, most recently in October 2023 with Joseph Broderick, MD, physician-researcher and director of the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute as lead PI and Pooja Khatri, MD, MSc, physician-researcher, is associate director of the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute and vice-chair for research in the UC Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine as co-PI.

In December 2023, Dr. Khatri will be competitively awarded the grant as Lead PI. The renewed infrastructure has 21 ongoing or upcoming studies and is currently partnering with researchers in seven countries and seven companies to help advance stroke care worldwide. NIH StrokeNet will have new features, including enhanced activities related to patient representation, advocacy and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, as well as a new clinical research professional training initiative.

Also new to NIH StrokeNet, the neuroimaging team led by Achla Vagal, MD, and Vivek Khandwala, PhD, will be officially named the NIH StrokeNet Imaging Management Center. Their activities already bring expertise and expertise in developing the imaging aspects of trial design and collecting and analyzing global brain images.

It is truly a privilege to leverage the leadership and experience in the stroke research field to develop and complete high-quality, multi-site trials as well as collaborate with other stroke networks worldwide. We are proud to bring our expertise with a cutting-edge approach to our local community every day.”


Pooja Khatri, MD, MSc, physician-researcher, associate director of the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute

Since 2013, more than 11,000 patients have been enrolled in NIH StrokeNET trials. These studies have led to significant advances in patient care worldwide. For example, the DEFUSE-3 study published in 2018 advanced acute stroke care by demonstrating that endovascular therapy resulted in longer-term outcomes in acute ischemic stroke patients with at-risk brain tissue than medical therapy outside the conventional time window. The study received a US Congressional Award for the significance of its impact on patient care.

“StrokeNet brings together leadership and researchers across the country to work more efficiently and avoid duplication of effort with a centralized infrastructure,” Broderick said. “This research network has significantly advanced the field of stroke and directly improved patient care and outcomes in our region and around the world over the past decade. We are thrilled to continue this important work.”

Khatri is an internationally leading researcher in the field of stroke. He led studies that helped develop and optimize mechanical clot removal, now an established treatment for more severe ischemic strokes. Ischemic stroke is the most common form of stroke that occurs when a vessel supplying blood to the brain is blocked. His research has also changed clinical practice guidelines to improve the care of people with mild ischemic stroke.

“Clinical outcomes have advanced dramatically in the last decade, thanks to clinical trials that test what works and what will take them in a systematic and careful way in a range of people”. “Furthermore, these advances are made possible by patients who decide to participate in clinical trials. I am particularly excited that we have found ways to do our trials more efficiently to accelerate the pace of our stroke care advances. Many of our 21 studies have very innovative designs.”

Broderick, also a leading researcher, was part of the University of Cincinnati team that conducted groundbreaking research in the 1980s that led to the clot-busting drug tPA being used as the first proven treatment for ischemic stroke. He led key research in the development of mechanical clot removal for severe stroke.

“I want every stroke patient to have the opportunity to participate in a research study that could help them or patients like them in the future,” Broderick said. “I advise patients to be proactive. And as physicians, we need to be proactive, too.”

UC and UC Health’s role as StrokeNet National Coordinating Center includes pharmacy and single institutional review board (IRB) services and contract management with all clinical trial sites for the network. UC Health’s NIH StrokeNet Research Pharmacy, led by Noor Sabagha, PharmD, has shipped more than 12,000 study drugs to US trial sites over the past five years and has guided the design and conduct of drug-related studies worldwide. The UC IRB serves as one of the central IRBs for NIH StrokeNet and has more than 350 affiliated institutions led by Michael Link, Ph.D. Under the leadership of David Gearing Sr., MHA, UC has executed more than 1,000 new clinical trial contracts over the past five years.

UC and UC Health will also continue to serve as the Ohio Valley Regional Coordinating Center within NIH StrokeNet, providing expertise and access to clinical trials at hospitals in southwest Ohio and beyond, and will include The Ohio State University. The Ohio Valley Region Network is among the leading enrollees in StrokeNET trials nationwide. Clinician-researcher Eva Mistry, MD, of the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, and Stacy Demmel, MD, principal investigator at the Ohio Valley Regional Coordinating Center.

NIH StrokeNet is funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). UC expects to receive more than $14 million in funding over the next five years as a national coordinating center.

In addition to leading clinical research, UC Health is an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center, one of only 4% of hospitals in the United States with specific capacity to treat the most complex stroke cases. UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute stroke specialists consult with physicians and care teams at community hospitals throughout Greater Cincinnati. UC Health is also home to the region’s first and only mobile stroke unit, bringing emergency department care directly to stroke patients when they need it most.

A stroke occurs when a clot cuts off the blood supply to the brain (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. More than 160,000 people died of stroke in the United States in 2020.



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