Current Projects

Numerous Pitt investigators have received federal funding for critical medical research that will directly improve the lives of our military service members, veterans, and their families.

 

Regenerative Electronic Platform through Advanced Intelligent Regulation (REPAIR), DARPA (BETR) Funded

A multi-institution research team led by Dr. Stephen Badylak at the University of Pittsburgh will develop a device combining artificial intelligence, bioelectronics and regenerative medicine to regrow muscle and surrounding soft tissue, especially after combat injuries.  The team will engineer the Regenerative Electronic Platform through Advanced Intelligent Regulation (REPAIR) Patch, which will dramatically improve the speed and functional outcome of wound healing. The technologic basis of our approach is the use of a novel array of sensors and actuators, designed and controlled through the use of computational models and embedded within an inductive cytocompatible extracellular matrix (ECM) hydrogel.  The REPAIR Patch will be developed and tested in a canine model of volumetric muscle loss (VML).  The REPAIR platform, which is flexible with regard to geometry, time of application, and arrangement of its various modalities will decrease by 50% the time to functional  healing  of VML wounds by targeting two key rate-limiting steps in the default wound healing process:  the immune phenotype of the wound environment and neurogenesis.  The REPAIR technology fundamentally changes the current empirical, reductionist approach to wound healing.

 

Volumetric Muscle Loss, METC Funded 

Surgical mesh materials composed of extracellular matrix (ECM) can promote functional tissue remodeling by mechanisms that include stem cell maturation and differentiation and modulation of the host immune response toward a regulatory, pro-healing phenotype. There are two objectives for the present work: 1) to determine if an antibiotic coated version of a biologic scaffold (i.e., XenMatrix™ AB) that showed efficacy for promoting muscle regeneration in patients with volumetric muscle loss (VML) in a previous human cohort study could perform equally well, and 2) to develop and test an alternative antibiotic coating that has the added benefit of enhancing the strength of soft tissue repair.

From 2011 to 2015, we conducted a thirteen-patient cohort study in which ECM surgical meshes were used to treat VML. Results showed significant restoration of vascularized, innervated, and functional skeletal muscle with a marked improvement in the quality of life for all patients (ClinicalTrails.gov, identifier NCT01292876). The objective of the present proposal is to corroborate and extend the findings of the previous study by utilizing XENMATRIX™ AB, an FDA-approved ECM-based surgical mesh coated with a bioresorbable L-Tyrosine succinate polymer which serves as a carrier for the antibacterial agents Rifampin and Minocycline. The proposed study will assess structure and function in patients undergoing musculotendinous tissue unit repair and reinforcement with XENMATRIX™ AB. Herein, we will treat ten additional patients with XENMATRIX™ AB, an FDA-approved antibiotic-coated version of the same product used in the thirteen patient cohort study. 

We will simultaneously evaluate the effect of an enhanced version of XENMATRIX™ AB upon the healing response and functional outcome in established preclinical animal models of VML. The enhanced version involves a substitution of the antibiotic doxycycline for minocycline.  The objective of the preclinical animal studies is to develop an off-the-shelf biologic prototype of XenMatrix™ with a Doxycycline plus Rifampin surface coating capable of treating traumatic large-volume muscle loss (VML) injuries of the extremities, decreasing the risk of infection and maximizing the strength of new muscle tissue.  Preliminary work in our laboratory and in studies by others shows a 33% increase in strength of the remodeled tissue with doxycycline.  Phase II would move forward with the enhanced version if the studies in Phase I confirm this finding.

 

TRAuma Care In a Rucksack (TRACIR)

TRACIR is a next generation trauma patient management initiative. TRACIR will provide the U.S. military with a portable, rapidly deployable, autonomous medical system that can dynamically provide robotically controlled critical care interventions to patients in remote and austere environments.

TRACIR will extend the "Golden Hour" and improve survivability on the battlefield. It is important to note that, in organizing the TRACIR team during the last three years, CMMR has now included a team led by academic partners from CMU, DoD partners, and industry partners. Funding has been awarded in May 2019. 

MilTeenChatTM App

The MilTeenChat App is the first-ever app focused on building coping skills, resilience and peer-to-peer support among military teens of Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve and Veterans.  This app allows teens to connect in a secured network to 1. Create a profile to share who they are, where they have been stationed and their special interests, 2. Share stories about what they are doing, what their experiences have been, connect with other military teens, share knowledge, create groups, post pictures and/or direct message with friends, and 3. Search resources to find support tools related to moving, going to a new school, experiencing deployment, separation, transitions, challenges with living a military lifestyle and peer-to-peer support.  

Fact Sheet

  • Over two million American children have experienced parent deployment at least once since 2001
  • 16.7% of military children aged 12-17 had at least one major depressive episode in the past year
  • Military children can be resilient when they are given the right tools; they understand the importance of flexibility in dealing with stresses related to the changing military environment 

 

Characterization of Psychological Resilience and Readiness 

In the military, stress comes in many different forms, including physical exertion, cognitive overload, sleep loss, and caloric restriction. In addition to taxing cognition, these occupational stressors impair physical performance and predispose soldiers to injury. In this multi-institutional DoD-supported research program, we assess novel and established neurocognitive and physical metrics to predict behaviorally-relevant military task performance over four consecutive days of sleep loss, caloric restriction, and physical exertion. Insights from the analysis will be aided by artificial intelligence.

To view more current research click here.  

 

Linking Investigations in Trauma and Emergency Services (LITES)

Image result for Linking Investigations in Trauma and Emergency Services (LITES)

CMMR actively facilitated the Linking Investigations in Trauma and Emergency Services (LITES) network. LITES is a Pitt-led, and DoD funded, effort to create a nationwide network of trauma systems and centers. The network will allow for extensive data collection and research to improve the trauma care for civillian and military personnel. This important national consortium, led by Pitt, could potentially receive up to $90M from the DoD over a 5 year period.