MedStar Health Research Institute Awarded Research Grant from the U.S. Department of Defense

Hyattsville, MD — Suzanne Groah, MD, MSPH, has been awarded a contract through the U.S. Department of Defense - Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs to conduct focused research for patients who are living with spinal cord injuries and neurogenic bladder.

Suzanne Groah, MD, MSPH

“Urinary tract infections are the most common outpatient infection world-wide, and for people with spinal cord injuries, it is the most common infection, cause for emergency room visits, and infectious cause of hospitalization,” said Dr. Groah. “Attempts to reduce urinary tract infections among people with spinal cord injuries are stymied by long-standing diagnostic challenges which arise from evidence gaps around ‘gold standard’ diagnostic tests (urinalysis and urine culture) that have lower sensitivity and specificity for urinary tract infections in people with spinal cord injuries.”

The study has three objectives. The first is to define and differentiate what constitutes “normal” urine versus clinically meaningful change from normal with respect to urinary symptoms, urine inflammation, and the urinary tract’s microbial ecosystem. This will help to advance the diagnosis of urinary tract infection among this population. Secondly, the researchers will conduct a pilot clinical trial of intravesical LactobacillusGG®, the goal of which is to reduce urinary symptoms and potentially prevent urinary tract infection. The third objective is to develop and validate a computational model incorporating urinary signs, symptoms, and urinary ecosystem data to advance the understanding of the complex interactions between the bacteria that cause (and do not cause) urinary tract infections and the individual, with the ultimate goal of informing diagnostics, self-management, and research.

“This work specifically targets people with SCI who use indwelling catheters due to neurogenic bladder,” said Dr. Groah. “These individuals will potentially be helped by having an easily accessible method to reduce, through self-management, frequent and burdensome urinary symptoms, reducing the occurrence of UTI and ultimately, antimicrobial resistance due to overuse of antimicrobials.”

Dr. Groah is the Chief of the Spinal Cord Injury program and Director of Spinal Cord Injury Research at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital and Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Georgetown University.

The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 820 Chandler Street, Fort Detrick MD 21702-5014 is the awarding and administering acquisition office. This work was supported by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs endorsed by the Department of Defense), through the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program, Translational Research Award under Award No. W81XWH1910541. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the Department of Defense.

 


About MedStar Health Research Institute
The MedStar Health Research Institute is the research arm of MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region. MHRI provides scientific, administrative and regulatory support for research programs throughout the MedStar Health system. MHRI’s expertise includes translational research into disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. These programs complement the key clinical services and teaching programs in the 10 MedStar hospitals and other MedStar entities. Visit us at www.MedStarResearch.org

About MedStar Health
MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation, and research. MedStar’s 31,000 associates, 6,500 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care, and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit www.MedStarHealth.org.

 






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Grant Awarded to Spot Urinary Tract Infections among Spinal Cord Injury Patients

 

mnrh_washington_suzanne_groah_physiatrist_200
Suzanne Groah, MD, MSPH

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 16, 2016) Suzanne Groah, MD, MSPH, has been awarded a $500,000 grant by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to support screening for urinary tract infections (UTIs) among patients with spinal cord injuries at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network.

“Urinary tract infection is the most common bacterial infection seen in the outpatient setting and the most common healthcare-associated infection, making it a major worldwide public health problem,” said Dr. Groah. In addition, spinal cord injury patients are at high risk for recurrent UTI, which is known to cause significant pain and discomfort; however, mobility limitations often create barriers to these patients receiving comprehensive care.

The study, “Development of a Urinary Symptom Questionnaire for People with Neuropathic Bladder,” will develop a questionnaire for individuals being treated for bladder dysfunction due to spinal cord injury to assist them in self-assessments of their health. The process of creating the questionnaire is centered on working with patients with spinal cord injuries, focusing on utilizing their feedback to develop usable tools for others through focus groups and interviews. Focus groups will help develop the questionnaire, which will be validated and assessed by a large, diverse, national sample of people living with spinal cord injury.

The goal is that other patients will be able to use the tool to self-assess if their symptoms may be related to a UTI.

 “When the study team surveyed people with neuropathic bladder due to spinal cord injury and spina bifida, we found that UTI is a problem for more than 80 percent of people,” Dr. Groah said.

By creating this tool, Dr. Groah’s research team will have an enhanced diagnostic approach to UTIs within this population that will be useful in future research, clinical care, patient education, and patient and clinical decision-making. This research is building on a study that currently is recruiting patients, “The Impact of Self-Management with Probiotics on Urinary Symptoms and the Urine Microbiome in Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury and Spina Bifida,” which was funded by a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute grant in 2014.

Dr. Groah is the director of Spinal Cord Injury Consultation Liaison Service and of Spinal Cord Injury Research at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network and associate professor of rehabilitation medicine at Georgetown University. The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation’s funding is dedicated to supporting both programs and scientific research to improve the quality of life for those affected by and living with spinal cord injury.

 


About MedStar Health Research Institute

The MedStar Health Research Institute is the research arm of MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region. MHRI provides scientific, administrative and regulatory support for research programs throughout the MedStar Health system. MHRI’s expertise includes translational research into disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. These programs complement the key clinical services and teaching programs in the 10 MedStar hospitals and other MedStar entities. For more information, visit MedStarResearch.org.

About MedStar Health

MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit MedStarHealth.org

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