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Charles “McC.” Mathias, Jr., National Study Center for Trauma and EMS Celebrates 25 Years of Innovation in Injury Prevention

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

 Dr Colin McKenzie, former director of NSC; E. Trail Mathias; and current director, Dr Alan Faden

More than 75 people gathered in the SMC Campus Center ballroom on November 21, 2011 to celebrate and reminiscence about the rich history of The Charles “McC” Mathias, Jr., National Study Center for Trauma and Emergency Medical Services (NSC) as it marked its 25th anniversary. The global, life-altering advances in injury prevention research that have been produced through the Center here in Baltimore were spotlighted in this kick-off to what is to be a year-long celebration entitled “25 Years of Research: Innovations in Injury Prevention.”

The kickoff event was attended by past and present NSC researchers and staff from the STAR-ORC and Program in Trauma, along with internal and external colleagues and partners. Special guests included family members of the late Senator Mathias – brother E. Trail Mathias; son Robert Mathias; sister Theresa M. Michel; and nephew Frederick Michel. Three former NSC directors - Drs. Brad Cushing, Colin McKenzie, and Thomas Scalea - also joined in the celebration, highlighting the Center’s remarkable research, providing insights into the early days of the National Study Center and the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. The Honorable Francis X. Kelly, Jr., shared his recollection of Senator Mathias and Dr. R Adams Cowley as well.

Approved by President Ronald Reagan and formally signed into law as a U.S. Congressional Joint Resolution on  January 21, 1986, the NSC began its journey as the research arm of the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center (STC) and Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS). In its 25 years, the NSC has become a world-class, multi-disciplinary research and educational center focusing on brain injuries, critical care and organ support, resuscitation, surgical outcomes, patient safety, and injury epidemiology and prevention. In 2007 the NSC was designated as part of the Center for Shock, TRauma and Anesthesiology Research (STAR-ORC), an organized research center in the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The STAR-ORC serves as the research umbrella for the Department of Anesthesiology and the Program in Trauma. 

In addition to sharing some ongoing and future research initiatives, speakers highlighted the study center's contributions and impact on Baltimore and beyond, including:

  • Reducing traffic fatalities: At the time of the NSC’s inception, there were 46,087 traffic fatalities nationwide and 784 in Maryland. As of 2009, Maryland fatalities have declined 30% through the four Es of traffic safety — Effective Education, Enforcement, Engineering and Emergency Medical Services. 
  • Evaluation of state and national highway safety: The NSC has been instrumental in problem identification and program evaluation for the State through the Maryland State Highway Administration, Highway Safety Office (MHSO) and at the national level through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 
  • Advancements in vehicle design and safety: In addition to the on-going analysis of statewide databases, the NSC has undertaken multiple crash reconstruction projects that have allowed researchers to investigate occupant kinematics resulting in advancements in vehicle design.  NSC researchers investigated injuries associated with first-generation air bags and contributed to the de-powering of those air bags to reduce morbidity.  The NSC has also conducted in-depth analyses of lower extremity injuries, which influenced motor vehicle manufacturers to institute knee bolster air bags in newer vehicles.
  • Implementation of alcohol intervention: In the mid 2000’s, an alcohol screening and brief intervention study was conducted at the STC.  That study explored the feasibility and helped validate the need for brief alcohol intervention in the acute trauma setting. This subsequently became a component of all American College of Surgeons-verified Trauma Centers in 2009.
  • Design of emergency preparedness strategies: The NSC has had a long standing relationship with MIEMSS.  Even prior to the events on September 11, 2001, the NSC served as liaison in coordinating mission-critical emergency preparedness protocols, aiding in the training and testing of military and civilian communication systems.

Many of the researchers working in the STAR-ORC are physicians who care for trauma patients at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. Through their practices, partnerships and ability to translate research findings to the clinical setting, the STAR-ORC has developed an unparalleled atmosphere rich with the practical and life-saving application of study data. The STAR-ORC is believed to be the first research center in the United States dedicated exclusively to the study of trauma, its complications, and prevention.

Throughout this year of celebration, STAR-ORC Director, Dr. Alan I. Faden invites everyone to join the center as the individuals who have contributed to these efforts take time to share their many accomplishments in a series of educational seminars to be held throughout the next year. More information on these seminars will be posted in our school calendar as they become available.

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 Dr. Scalea with E. Trail Mathias and Rob Mathias, brother and son of the late Senator Mathias.

 The Mathias family with Dr. Faden, Dean Reece, Dr. Scalea and Senator Kelly.

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