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

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

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Dr Suzanne Groah sits at her desk and poses for a photo.

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. 

“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

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


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